Entertainment & Arts

Kennedy Center Honors: The theater side of Dustin Hoffman’s career

Newly named Kennedy Center honoree Dustin Hoffman is probably best-known for movie roles that include Benjamin Braddock in “The Graduate,” Carl Bernstein in “All the President’s Men” and Michael Dorsey/Dorothy Michaels in “Tootsie.” But his roots are in the theater, and he has occasionally returned to the stage.

But before he became one of Hollywood’s leading anti-heroes in ‘60s and ‘70s films, he spent two years at the Pasadena Playhouse’s College of Theater Arts, where he met and befriended fellow student Gene Hackman.

One of Hoffman’s first roles in New York came in 1965 in “Harry, Noon and Night.” After stints as an assistant director to Ulu Grosbard on “A View From the Bridge” and as a stage manager of the Grosbard-directed “The Subject Was Roses,” Hoffman was cast in the 1966 farce “Eh?” and won an Obie award for the war drama “Journey of the Fifth Horse.”  Between the films “The Graduate” (1967) and “Midnight Cowboy” (1969),  Hoffman returned to Broadway in Murray Shisgal’s “Jimmy Shine.”

He has returned to the stage in two classic roles: Hoffman played Willy Loman on Broadway in Arthur Miller’s “Death of a Salesman” in 1984, and Shylock in “The Merchant of Venice” in London and on Broadway in 1989.


He currently serves as artistic chair of the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center.

Hoffman and the other artists will receive their honors Dec. 2. The ceremony will be televised Dec. 26 on CBS.


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