Biography, 2

By 1930, at age 17, Julie had landed a few walk-on parts in the theater where he was able to observe and learn from actors at work. He also succumbed to a sense of adventure and went on a sojourn of his own - hitchhiking and riding freight trains across the country.

For months he lived the life of a hobo, staying in roadside camps, picking fruit or working as a waiter at truckstops to earn some change. Later, the Hollywood publicity machine would romanticize this experience (and reportedly director Preston Sturges got the idea for his now-classic "Sullivan's Travels" from listening to Garfield's stories), but in reality it was a dirt-poor existence at the height of the Depression.

Back in New York, Julie worked as an apprentice with the Civic Repertory Theater, attending acting classes and receiving more bit parts on the stage.

1932 was a turning point. Julie, or, Jules Garfield, as he was now calling himself, joined up with the new avant-garde Theater Group. There he would form friendships that would remain influential throughout his life. Writer Clifford Odets, Stella and Luther Adler, Morris Carnovsky, Elia Kazan -- all important names in the theater and in Hollywood for decades to come.

with Roberta (Robbie) Seidman - wedding day, 1935

Garfield also met the vivacious young actress who would become his wife, Roberta (known as Robbie) Seidman. The newlyweds took a flat in Greenwich Village and over the next few years Garfield would gain bigger and bigger parts on the stage, honing his craft.

Garfield's staunch devotion to the Theater Group received a serious blow when the plum part of Joe Bonaparte in Clifford Odets' new play "Golden Boy" - a part Odets wrote specifically with Garfield in mind - was given to Luther Adler. Garfield felt that the Group had shunned its purported policy of taking chances and nurturing new talent by choosing an established name for the lead part. Disllusioned, Garfield decided to take a chance on an offer that had come from Warner Bros Studio in Hollywood.

Fully expecting Garfield to stay only temporarily in California - his heart and soul belonged to the New York stage - Robbie stayed behind while her husband made the trip to the West Coast in a rickety old automobile.

The year was 1938. Garfield's arrival in Hollywood was without fanfare. He took a room in a boarding house, got a tour of the Warner Studio and met his new boss, Jack Warner - who promptly gave him a new first name - John.


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