Lancaster, Burton Stephen “Burt”, born 02-11-1913, as one of five children in New York City to a postal worker. He was a tough street kid growing up in East Harlem and took an early interest in gymnastics which led him to the circus becoming an acrobat. An injury put an end to his career. He went from the circus to the U.S. Army. The United States having entered World War II, Lancaster joined the United States Army and performed with the Army’s Twenty-First Special Services Division, one of the military groups organized to follow the troops on the ground and provide USO entertainment to keep up morale. He served with General Mark Clark’s Fifth Army in Italy from 1943–1945. Its role in Italy cost Fifth Army dearly. It suffered 109.642 casualties in 602 days of combat. 19.475 were killed in action. The Fifth Army headquarters returned to the United States in September, 1945. 02-10-1945 saw Fifth Army deactivated at Camp Myles Standish, Massachusetts. Bert Lancaster was recruited to help entertain the troops through acting with the USO. He was as a self taught actor who learned as he went along. Upon discharge, he headed for Hollywood. His rugged athletic appearance landed him a tough guy role at the late age of 32 in the movie The Killers opposite Ava Gardner. He was on the way with a series of adventure movies such as The Crimson Pirate and then proved his acting ability in From Here to Eternity. The Sweet Smell of Success followed then the blockbuster Elmer Gantry based on the life of Billie Sunday the famous Chicago Evangelist where he won the best actor Oscar. He continued acting in his later years while earning his fourth Oscar nomination with Atlantic City. Burt Lancaster set up his own production company hiring experts to direct his career. He produced Marty which won the Oscar in 1955. He appeared as a supporting player in a number of his productions: Local Hero and Field of Dreams were the best. Among his last films were Rocket Gibraltar (1988) and Field of Dreams (1989). His final performance was in the made for TV movie Separate but equal (1991). As Lancaster grew older, he became increasingly plagued by atherosclerosis, barely surviving a routine gall bladder operation in January 1980. Following two minor heart attacks he had to undergo an emergency quadruple heart bypass in 1983, after which he was extremely weak, but he still managed to attend a 1988 Congressional hearing with old colleagues such as Jimmy Stewart
and Ginger Rogers
to protest media magnate Ted Turner’s plan to colorize various black-and-white films from the 1930s and ’40s. A severe stroke in November 1990 left him partly paralyzed and largely unable to speak.
Death and burial ground of Lancaster , Burton Stephen “Burt”.
He died in his Century City apartment in Los Angeles from a third heart attack at 4:50 A.M. on 20-10-1994 at the age of 80. Lancaster was cremated and his ashes were buried under a large oak tree in Westwood Memorial Park located in Westwood Village, Los Angeles County, California. A small square ground plaque inscribed only with “BURT LANCASTER 1913-1994” marks his final resting place. Upon his death, as he requested, he had no memorial or funeral service.