Born: November 23, 1944
Date of Birth: November 23, 1944
A native New Yorker, James Toback earned degrees from both Harvard and Columbia before starting out as an English instructor at the City College of New York. While there, he began writing freelance articles for various magazines. For one of them, he interviewed football star Jim Brown, and the two became such close friends that Toback wrote the 1971 biography, Jim: The Author's Self-Centered Memoir of the Great Jim Brown.
The book attracted attention in Hollywood, where Brown had parlayed his football stardom into an acting career. A compulsive gambler, Toback's first screenplay was the 1974 semi-autobiographical The Gambler, starring James Caan and Lauren Hutton.
He made his directorial debut with his second screenplay, Fingers (1977), starring Jim Brown and Harvey Keitel. Since then, Toback has written and directed films such as Love and Money (1982), The Pick-Up Artist (1987), The Big Bang (1989), Two Girls and a Guy (1998), Love In Paris (1999), Black and White (2000), and Harvard Man (2001).
Toback wrote the screenplay for Bugsy (1991), starring Annette Bening and Warren Beatty. He also played the role of Gus Greenbaum in the film, which received Oscar, Golden Globe and Writers Guild of America screenwriting nominations and won a Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award.
His latest film, When Will I Be Loved (2004), received a standing ovation at the Toronto Film Festival and was pronounced a "masterpiece" by famed film critic Roger Ebert. For Tyson (2008), a documentary about boxer Mike Tyson, he earned the "Regard Knockout Award" at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival.