Palance, Walter Jack, 2nd Lt

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Last Rank
Second Lieutenant
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1054-Co-Pilot, Four-Engine Aircraft
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1942-1944, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
Service Years
1942 - 1944
Foreign Language(s)
Second Lieutenant

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Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by A3C Michael S. Bell to remember Palance, Walter Jack, 2nd Lt.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Lattimer Mines
Last Address
Montecito, CA

Date of Passing
Nov 10, 2006
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin

 Unofficial Badges 

 Military Association Memberships
Famous People Who Served
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Pilot Badge
Sharp Shooter



 Unit Assignments
Aviation Cadet Flight SchoolUnited States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
  1942-1943, Aviation Cadet Flight School
  1942-1944, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1945 World War II6
 Colleges Attended 
Stanford University
  1946-1950, Stanford University
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-24 Liberator  
  2003-2003, B-24 Liberator
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
Palance, one of five children, was born Volodymyr Palahniuk in the Lattimer Mines section of Hazle Township, Pennsylvania, the son of Anna (née Gramiak) and Ivan Palahniuk, who was an anthracite coal miner. Palance's parents were Ukrainian immigrants, his father a native of Ivane Zolote in Southwestern Ukraine and his mother from the Lviv region. He worked in coal mines during his youth before becoming a boxer.

In the late 1930s, Palance started a professional boxing career. Fighting under the name Jack Brazzo, Palance reportedly compiled a record of 15 consecutive victories with 12 knockouts before fighting the future heavyweight contender Joe Baksi in a "Pier-6" brawl. Palance lost a close decision, and recounted: "Then, I thought, you must be nuts to get your head beat in for $200".

With the outbreak of the Second World War, Palance's boxing career ended and his military career began as a member of the United States Army Air Forces. Palance's rugged face, which took many beatings in the boxing ring, was disfigured when he bailed out of a burning B-24 Liberator bomber while on a training flight over southern Arizona, where he was a student pilot. Plastic surgeons repaired the damage as best they could, but he was left with a distinctive, somewhat gaunt, look. After much reconstructive surgery, he was discharged in 1944.

Palance graduated from Stanford University in 1947 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama. During his university years, to make ends meet he also worked as a short order cook, waiter, soda jerk, lifeguard at Jones Beach State Park, and photographer's model.
Other Comments:

He exemplified evil incarnate on film -- portraying some of the most intense and gripping villains witnessed in 50s westerns and melodrama -- and Jack Palance went on to win Oscar "Best Supporting Actor" nominations for two of them. It would take a grizzled, eccentric comic performance 40 years later, however, in order to grab the coveted statuette.

Of Ukranian descent, Palance was born Volodymir Ivanovich Palahniuk on February 18, 1919, in Pennsylvania coal country. His father, a miner, died of black lung disease. The sensitive, artistic lad worked in the mines in his early years but averted the same fate as his father. Athletics was his ticket out of the mines when he won a football scholarship to the University of North Carolina. He subsequently dropped out to try his hand at professional boxing. Although he certainly had talent and a good boxing record, he decided on a less abusive way of life. After decorated WWII service with the Army Air Force as a bomber pilot, he resumed college studies as a journalist at Stanford University and became a sportswriter for the San Francisco Chronicle. He also worked for a radio station until the acting bug bit.

Palance made his stage debut in "The Big Two" in 1947 and immediately followed it understudying Marlon Brando as Stanley Kowalski in Broadway's "A Streetcar Named Desire," a role he eventually took over. Following stage parts in "Temporary Island" (1948), "The Vigil" (1948) and "The Silver Tassle" (1949), Palance won a choice role in "Darkness of Noon" and also the Theatre World Award for "promising new personality". This recognition helped him secure a 20th Century-Fox contract. Facial burns and resulting reconstructive surgery following the crash and burn of his WWII bomber plane actually worked to the leathery actor's advantage in Hollywood. Hardly the look of a glossy romantic leading man, Palance instead became an archetypal villain equipped with an imposing glare, intimidating stance and killer-shark smile. In his movie debut in Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets (1950), he stood out among a powerful cast as a fugitive carrying the bubonic plague. He was soon on his way.

Initially billed as Walter Jack Palance, he made fine use of his former boxing skills and war experience for the film Halls of Montezuma (1950) as a boxing Marine in Richard Widmark's platoon. Palance followed this with the first of his back-to-back Oscar nods. In Sudden Fear (1952), only his third film, he played rich-and-famous playwright Joan Crawford's struggling actor husband who plots to murder her and run off with gorgeous Gloria Grahame. Finding the right menace and intensity to pretty much steal the proceedings, he followed this with arguably his finest film role of the decade, that of creepy, sadistic gunslinger Jack Wilson who becomes Alan Ladd's biggest nightmare (not to mention others) in the classic western Shane (1953). Their climactic showdown alone is text book.

Along the way there were some very good films such as Man in the Attic (1953), which was his first lead, The Big Knife (1955) and the war classic Attack (1956) mixed in with the highly mediocre Flight to Tangier (1953), Sign of the Pagan (1954), in which he played Attila the Hun, and the biblical bomb The Silver Chalice (1954). In between these filmings there were a host of powerful TV roles -- none better than his down-and-out boxer in "Requiem for a Heavyweight" (1956), a rare sympathetic role that earned him an Emmy.

Overseas he made a killing in "spaghetti westerns" and war epics of the 60s and 70s, and on TV played a number of nefarious nasties to perfection ranging from Dracula to Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. In his twilight years he showed a penchant for brash, quirky comedy capped by his Oscar-winning role in City Slickers (1991), its sequel, and others. He even played Ebenezer Scrooge in a TV-movie incongruously set in the Wild West.

Married twice, his three children -- Holly, Brooke and Cody (who died in 1998 of cancer) -- all dabbled in acting and appeared with their father at one time or another. A man of few words off the set, he owned his own cattle ranch and displayed other creative sides as a exhibited painter and published poet. His last years were marred by failing health and he died at age 87 of natural causes at his daughter Holly's Montecito, California home.

IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh /

Trade Mark

Deep, rumbly, authoritative voice

Intense manner

Prominent eyebrows

Former father-in-law of Roger Spottiswoode. Father-in-law of Michael Wilding Jr..

American actor of Ukrainian ancestry.

Father of Brooke Palance, Holly Palance and Cody Palance.

Never watched any of his own movies.

According to a website honoring movie celebrities that flew in B-24s, Palance burned his face severely while bailing out of a B-24 which was on fire during a training flight in Tucson in 1942 (that would probably have been the Davis-Monthan Army Air Corps base at that time) and after several surgeries was discharged in 1944. He is described as a "pilot in training".

Attended the University of North Carolina.

Spoke six languages: Ukrainian, Russian, Italian, Spanish, French and English.

Once fell asleep in his square during a taping of "The Hollywood Squares" (1965).

His star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is in front of the display window of Fredericks of Hollywood, a seller of intimate apparel.

Inducted into the Hall of Great Western Performers of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in 1992.

Graduate of Stanford University in 1949 with an AB in Drama.

During the early phases of pre-production for The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), 20th Century-Fox studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck suggested Palance for the role of the robot Gort. The role was eventually filled by a much taller non-actor.

During his struggling days, he worked as a short order cook, waiter, soda jerk, lifeguard at Jones Beach, and a photographer's model.

While an understudy to Marlon Brando in the Broadway production of "A Streetcar Named Desire," Brando, who was into athletics, rigged up a punching bag in the theater's boiler room and invited Jack to work out with him. One night, Jack threw a hard punch that missed the bag and landed square on Brando's nose. The star had to be hospitalized and understudy Palance created his own big break by going on for Brando. Jack's reviews as Stanley Kowalski helped get him a 20th Century-Fox contract.

Son of a coal miner.

Was forced to decline the role of Gen. Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991) due to scheduling conflicts over his work on City Slickers (1991). He went on to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for City Slickers (1991). Christopher Plummer was eventually cast as Chang.

Was infamous in Hollywood for his Method-style acting, in a time when Marlon Brando was one of its few practitioners. Once, while filming a fight scene with Burt Lancaster, Palance actually punched the unsuspecting Lancaster in the face. Tough guy Lancaster responded by socking Palance in the gut, causing him to vomit.

Despite all of his film work, Palance will forever be remembered for turning an Oscar acceptance speech into an uproarious display of his physical agility. While accepting his Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for City Slickers (1991) at the 64th Annual Academy Awards (1992) he commented on the casting directors thinking they can make a younger guy look older, while they wouldn't know that an old guy did this at nights: he then flopped down on the floor and began doing a series of one-handed push-ups, stood up, spoke calmly further, even adding a slightly risqué joke. Afterwards when he was asked about the stunt he simply said, "I didn't know what the hell else to do". A year later when he provided the voice of Rothbart in the The Swan Princess (1994), his character is featured doing one-handed push-ups.

Was an avid painter and poet.

Brother of Ivan Palance, John Palance and Anne Palance.

Studied acting with Michael Chekhov in Hollywood.

Grandfather of Lily, Spencer and Tarquin.

Was a vegetarian but maintained a 1000-acre cattle ranch in California's Tehachapi Mountains and a 500-acre farm in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. His ranch brand was an "H" with a "B" and a "C" woven around it, the initials of the first names of his children, Holly, Brooke and Cody.

Father of Cody Palance (b. Dec. 1955, d. Jul. 15, 1998), with whom he starred in the film Young Guns (1988).

Shortly before his death in 2006, he put his farm house near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and its contents up for sale. Thousands of items were auction off and more than $700,000 was raised.

On a nationally televised talk show, Palance addressed the oft repeated story about how he supposedly had such damage done to his face that plastic surgery gave him the face we all know. He said, "I know I'm no beauty, but these are the Estonian features I was born with.".

Was Stephen King's choice of preference for the (similarly named, coincidentally or not) role of Jack Torrance in The Shining (1980).

Turned down Telly Savalas's role in The Dirty Dozen (1967) because he believed the film had too much unnecessary violence.

Member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (Actors Branch).

Was offered the role of Scaramanga in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).

Received a special tribute as part of the Annual Memorial tribute at The 79th Annual Academy Awards (2007) (TV).

Desperately wanted the role of Shaleen of the film Cat Ballou (1965) but was never offered it.

The comic book villain, Phil Defer (Phil Wire in the English version) - from Lucky Luke contre Phil Defer (1956) - is based on Palance's famous evil gunslinger, Jack Wison from _Shane(1953)_.

Director Elia Kazan promised to cast him as Marlon Brando's brother in Viva Zapata! (1952), but then changed his mind and cast Anthony Quinn instead. Quinn won a Best Supporting Oscar for the film and Palance never spoke to Kazan again.
Personal Quotes

The only two things you can truly depend upon are gravity and greed.

I'm amazed people read this crap about us - about me most of all.

One of the most important reasons for living is to do something - live outside of yourself and put together an idea, an idea that you want to explore and then complete... Awaken your creative sensitivities!

"There are some moments you never get over. That was one of them." JP, referring to the crash and burning of his WWII bomber plane that resulted in major facial reconstruction and severe head injuries.

"I used to be six foot four. Now that I'm old, I slouch. So, I'm six foot three." (1994)

Most of the stuff I do is garbage.

I go to see maybe seven films a year at the most, and since I only go to see the best, it follows that I very rarely see my own.
Copyright Inc 2003-2011