Alan Arkin is an Academy Award-winning American actor who is also an acclaimed director, producer, author, singer and composer.
He was born Alan Wolf Arkin on March 26, 1934, in Brooklyn, New York. His family were Jewish emigrants from Russia and Germany. In 1946, the Arkins moved from Brooklyn to Los Angeles, California. His father, David I. Arkin, was an artist and writer, who worked as a teacher, and lost his job for merely refusing to answer questions about his political affiliation during the 1950s Red Scare. His father challenged the politically biased dismissal and eventually prevailed, but unfortunately it was after his death. His mother, Beatrice (Wortis) Arkin, a teacher, shared his fathers views. Young Arkin was fond of music and acting, he was taking various acting classes from the age of 10. He attended Franklin High School, in Los Angeles, then Los Angeles City College from 1951 - 1953, and Bennington College in Vermont from 1953 - 1954. He sang in a college folk-band, and was involved in a drama class. He dropped out of college to form the folk music group The Tarriers, in which Arkin was the lead singer and played guitar. He co-wrote the 1956 hit "The Banana Boat Song" - a Jamaican calypso folk song, which became better known as Harry Belafonte's popular version, and reached #4 on the Billboard chart. At that time Arkin was a struggling young actor who played bit parts on television and on stage, and made a living as a delivery boy, repairman, pot washer and baby sitter. From 1958 - 1968 he performed and recorded with the children's folk group, The Babysitters. He has also recorded an entire album for the Elektra label titled "Folksongs - Once Over Lightly."