John Cassavetes was an American director and actor who is most famous for being a significant influence on the development of the American independent film industry. Cassavetes was born in New York City in 1929, the son of Greek immigrants who returned to Greece for several years while he was a child. He graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Art in 1950 and, after a number of years acting on the stage, founded a workshop to teach method acting. His first film as director was Shadows, released in 1959, which won the Critics Award at the Venice Film Festival. In the early 1950s, he acted in a number of western and TV series, including Night Holds Terror, before winning starring roles in Edge of the City with Sidney Poitier, and Saddle the Wind. In the 1960s he acted in some of the most famous movies of the period, including The Dirty Dozen and Rosemary's Baby, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. In the late 1960s he independently produced and directed Faces, which garnered three Academy award Nominations. Over the following years he continued to act in Hollywood movies to help fund his independent productions. He wrote and directed over a dozen movies before his death in 1989 from the effects of alcoholism.