Through the early and mid-1960s, Hoffman made appearances in television shows and movies, including Naked City, The Defenders and Hallmark Hall of Fame. , by Henry Livings, which had its US premiere at the Circle in the Square Downtown on October 16, 1966.Hoffman made his film debut in The Tiger Makes Out in 1967, alongside Eli Wallach.
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, for which he won a Theatre World Award and a Drama Desk Award.
This achievement was soon followed by his breakthrough 1967 film role as Benjamin Braddock, the title character in The Graduate.
"Just close your eyes and you'll hear a Mike Nichols—Elaine May routine in any number of scenes." After completing The Graduate, Hoffman turned down most of the film roles offered to him, preferring to go back to New York and continue performing in live theater. As author and critic Peter Biskind explains, "it was the very contrast between his preppy character in The Graduate, and Ratso Rizzo" that appealed to Hoffman.
He returned to Broadway to appear in the title role of the musical, Jimmy Shine. "I had become troubled," recalls Hoffman, "by the reviews that I read of The Graduate, that I was not a character actor, which I like to think of myself as. Some of the stuff in the press was brutal." Critics assumed that director Mike Nichols got lucky by finding a typical actor with average acting ability to play the part of Benjamin Braddock.
In 1960, Hoffman was cast in a role in an Off-Broadway production and followed with a walk-on role in a Broadway production in 1961.
Hoffman then studied at Actors Studio and became a dedicated method actor. Pink, a producer and 3D-movie pioneer, discovered him in one of his off-Broadway roles and cast him in Madigan's Millions.
Robinson, an alcoholic and a neurotic, and the wife of his father's business partner.
This was Hoffman's first major role, and he received an Academy Award nomination for it but lost to Rod Steiger in In the Heat of the Night. I think Dustin's physical being brought a sort of social and visual change, in the same way people first thought of Bogart. Hoffman biographer Jeff Lenburg adds that "newspapers across the country were deluged with thousands of letters from fans," with one example published in the New York Times: "I identified with Ben... He was confused about his future and about his place in the world, as I am.
He composed a song called "Shooting the Breeze" and Bette Midler wrote the words.