F. Murray Abraham

F. Murray Abraham (born Murray Abraham;[1][2]; Classical Syriac: ܡܘܪܪܐܝ ܐܒܪܐܗܐܡ; October 24, 1939)[3] is an American actor. He became widely known during the 1980s after winning an Oscar for his leading role as Antonio Salieri in the drama film Amadeus (1984). Abraham also won a Golden Globe and received a BAFTA Award nomination for the role.

F. Murray Abraham
Abraham in 2008
Murray Abraham

(1939-10-24) October 24, 1939
ResidenceNew York City, New York, United States
Years active1959–present
Kate Hannan (m. 1962)

He has appeared in many roles, both leading and supporting, in films such as All the President's Men (1976), Scarface (1983), The Name of the Rose (1986), Last Action Hero (1993), Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), Finding Forrester (2000), Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), and The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). Abraham is also known for his television and theatre work and is a regular cast member on the television series Homeland, which earned him two Primetime Emmy Award nominations.

Early life

Abraham was born Murray Abraham on October 24, 1939 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Fahrid "Fred" Abraham,[4] an auto mechanic, and his wife Josephine (née Stello) (April 15, 1915 – March 10, 2012),[5] a housewife.[3][6] His father was Assyrian[7] and emigrated from Syria at age five during a famine; his paternal grandfather was a chanter in the Syriac Orthodox Church.[3] His mother, one of 14 children, was Italian American, and the daughter of an immigrant who worked in the coal mines of Western Pennsylvania.[3] He had two brothers, Robert and Jack, who were killed in separate car accidents.[4]

Abraham was raised in El Paso, Texas, near the Mexican border. He attended Vilas Grammar School, and graduated from El Paso High School in 1958.[8] He was a gang member during his teenage years.[3] He attended Texas Western College (later named University of Texas at El Paso), where he was given the best actor award by Alpha Psi Omega for his portrayal of the Indian Nocona in Comanche Eagle during the 1959–60 season. He attended the University of Texas at Austin, then studied acting under Uta Hagen at HB Studio[9] in New York City. He began his acting career on the stage, debuting in a Los Angeles production of Ray Bradbury's The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit.

Abraham added "F." to his stage name in honor of his father Fahrid.[10] He has stated that "Murray Abraham just doesn't seem to say anything. It just is another name, so I thought I'd frame it."[2]


Film and television

Abraham made his screen debut as an usher in the George C. Scott comedy They Might Be Giants (1971). By the mid-1970s, Murray had steady employment as an actor, doing commercials and voice-overs. Abraham can be seen as one of the undercover police officers along with Al Pacino in Sidney Lumet's Serpico (1973), and in television roles including the bad guy in one fourth-season episode of Kojak ("The Godson"). He played a cabdriver in the theatrical version of The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), a mechanic in the theatrical version of The Sunshine Boys (1975), and a police officer in the film All the President's Men (1976).

Despite these small roles, Abraham continued to do commercials and voice-over work for income. But in 1978, he decided to give them up. Frustrated with the lack of substantial roles, Abraham said, "No one was taking my acting seriously. I figured if I didn't do it, then I'd have no right to the dreams I've always had." His wife, Kate Hannan, went to work as an assistant and Abraham became a "house husband". He described, "I cooked and cleaned and took care of the kids. It was very rough on my macho idea of life. But it was the best thing that ever happened to me."[11]

Abraham gained greater prominence when he appeared as drug dealer Omar Suárez in the gangster film Scarface (1983). Then, in 1984, he played envious composer Antonio Salieri in the Academy Award for Best Picture-winning Amadeus (1984), directed by Miloš Forman. Abraham won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role, an award for which his co-star in the film Tom Hulce, playing Mozart, had also been nominated. He won a Golden Globe Award, among other awards, and his role in the film, remains as his most iconic. (He later continued the classical-music theme by narrating the plot summaries of the operas of Wagner's Ring Cycle in the 1990 PBS broadcast from the Metropolitan Opera, to the largest viewing audience of the Ring Cycle in history, conducted by James Levine.)

After Amadeus, he next appeared in The Name of the Rose (1986), in which he played Bernardo Gui, nemesis to Sean Connery's William of Baskerville. In its DVD commentary, his director on the film, Jean-Jacques Annaud, described Abraham as an "egomaniac" on the set, who considered himself more important than Sean Connery because Connery did not have an Oscar.[12] That said, the film was a critical success.[13] Abraham had tired of appearing as heavies and wanted to return to his background in comedy, as he explained to People Weekly in an interview he gave at the time of its release.[14]

Though Abraham had fewer prominent roles in the next decade or so, he became known for his roles in Peter Yates' An Innocent Man (1989), Woody Allen's Mighty Aphrodite (1995), Ahdar Ru'afo in Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), and Gus Van Sant's Finding Forrester (2000), where he again played the nemesis to Connery. He had a significant role in Brian De Palma's adaptation of The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), but chose not to be credited due to a contract dispute.[3]

Abraham's relatively low-profile film career subsequent to his Academy Award win has been considered an example of the "Oscar jinx." According to film critic Leonard Maltin, professional failure following an early success is referred to in Hollywood circles as the "F. Murray Abraham syndrome."[15] Abraham rejected this notion and told Maltin, "The Oscar is the single most important event of my career. I have dined with kings, shared equal billing with my idols, lectured at Harvard and Columbia. If this is a jinx, I'll take two." In the same interview, Abraham said, "Even though I won the Oscar, I can still take the subway in New York, and nobody recognizes me. Some actors might find that disconcerting, but I find it refreshing."

A 2009 guest appearance on Saving Grace began a new phase of Abraham's career, wherein he has become gradually more prolific onscreen. Further guest appearances include roles on Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Louie and Curb Your Enthusiasm as well as a recurring role on The Good Wife between 2011 and 2014. Additionally, Abraham was the primary narrator for the PBS series Nature between 2007 and 2010, narrating 32 episodes (plus one more in 2013). Abraham's most notable television role came about through Showtime's drama series Homeland, in which he portrayed black ops specialist Dar Adal. This role resulted in his first Emmy Award nomination in 2015, followed by a second one in 2018.

He has featured prominently in two widely acclaimed 2010s films: first as folk music impresario Bud Grossman in the Coen brothers' drama Inside Llewyn Davis (2013), then as the mysterious Mr. Moustafa in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014). More recently, he has voiced roles in Isle of Dogs (2018) and How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World (2019) and played Tony in the 2019 live-action Lady and the Tramp.


Since Amadeus, he has mainly focused on classical theatre, and has starred in many Shakespearean productions such as Othello and Richard III. He was highlighted in many other plays by the likes of Samuel Beckett and Gilbert and Sullivan, and played the lead in Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya (for which he received an Obie Award).

Abraham has focused on stage work throughout his career, giving notable performances as Pozzo in Mike Nichols's production of Waiting for Godot, Malvolio in Twelfth Night for the New York Shakespeare Festival, and Shylock in The Merchant of Venice for the Off-Broadway Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) in March 2007, which was performed at the Duke Theatre in New York and also at the Swan Theatre, part of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He reprised this role in February 2011, when he replaced Al Pacino in the Public Theater's production. In the 1997/98 Broadway season, he starred in the new chamber musical Triumph of Love opposite Betty Buckley, based on Marivaux's classic comedy. The production did not find a large audience, running 85 performances, after its pre-opening preview period.[16] He has also taught theater at Brooklyn College.[17] In 2016, he played the title role in Classic Stage Company's production of Nathan the Wise.[18]

F. Murray Abraham also joined The Mirror Theater Ltd's Mirror Repertory Company in 1984. He joined MRC the week after winning his Oscar for Best Actor for his work in Amadeus because he wanted to work with MRC Artist-in-Residence Geraldine Page, and would star opposite her in MRC's The Madwoman of Chaillot.[19]

In 1994, Abraham portrayed Roy Cohn in the first Broadway production of Tony Kushner's Angels in America at the Walter Kerr Theater, replacing Ron Leibman in the role.

Personal life

Abraham has been married to Kate Hannan since 1962; they have two children,[20] Mick and Jamili, and one grandchild, Hannan.[21]

In January 2010, Abraham was the on-the-scene hero of a real-life crime scene at the Classic Stage Company in New York City, when he scuffled with a thief in the dressing room area during a public rehearsal.[22]

Abraham has spoken about his faith: "I've attended many churches. I grew up as an Orthodox Christian and I was an altar boy. I love the Society of Friends, the Quakers. I attended their meetings for almost 15 years. I'm now [in 2008] attending the First Presbyterian Church of New York because they're such a generous, terrific church with outreach. They reach out to old people, to homeless, to A.A., to cross-dressers; it's truly a church of the teachings of Christ. Religion is essential to my life."[23]



Year Title Role Notes
1971They Might Be GiantsClyde
1973SerpicoSerpico's partnerUncredited
1975The Prisoner of Second AvenueTaxi driver
1975The Sunshine BoysCar mechanic
1976All the President's MenPaul Leeper
1976The RitzChris
1978The Big FixEppis
1983ScarfaceOmar Suárez
1984AmadeusAntonio SalieriAcademy Award for Best Actor
Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
1986The Name of the RoseBernardo Gui
1988The Third SolutionFather Carafa
1989Beyond the StarsDr. Harry Bertram
1989The FavoriteAbdul Hamid
1989An Innocent ManVirgil Cane
1990CadenceCapt. Ramon GarciaUncredited
1990The Battle of the Three KingsOsrain
1990The Bonfire of the VanitiesD.A. Abe WeissUncredited
1991MobstersArnold Rothstein
1991MoneyWill Scarlet
1991By the SwordMax Suba
1991Eye of the WidowKharoun
1992Through an Open WindowNarratorShort film
1993National Lampoon's Loaded WeaponDr. Harold Leacher
1993Sweet KillingZargo
1993Last Action HeroDetective John Practice
1994FreshChess HustlerUncredited
1994L'AffaireLucien Haslans
1994Surviving the GameWolfe Sr.
1995Mighty AphroditeLeader
1996Children of the RevolutionJoseph Stalin
1997MimicDr. Gates
1997Una vacanza all'infernoBelisario
1997EruptionPresident Mendoza
1998Star Trek: InsurrectionAhdar Ru’afo
1999Muppets from SpaceNoahCameo
1999The All New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy in For Love or MummyHenry Covington
2000Finding ForresterProf. Robert Crawford
2000David ProshkerNarratorShort film
2001The Knights of the QuestDelfinello da Coverzano
2001Thir13en GhostsCyrus Kristicos
2002TickerAirport GuruSegment for the BMW short film series The Hire
2002JoshuaFather Tardone
2003Five Moons SquareThe Entity
2003Rua Alguem 5555: My FatherPaul Minsky
2004Another Way of Seeing ThingsNarratorShort film
2004Too Much Romance... It's Time for Stuffed PeppersJeffrey
2004The Bridge of San Luis ReyViceroy of Peru
2006The Stone MerchantShahid
2006Quiet Flows the DonPantaley
2006The InquiryNathan
2007Wine and KissesRuggero
2007Blood MonkeyProfessor HamiltonDirect-to-DVD
2008Carnera: The Walking MountainLéon Sée
2008A House DividedGrandfather Wahid
2009PerestroikaProf. Gross
2009BarbarossaSiniscalco Barozzi
2010The Unseen WorldJohn Henry Newman
2012Goltzius and the Pelican CompanyThe Margrave of Alsace
2012September Eleven 1683Father Marco d'Aviano
2013Dead Man DownGregor
2013Inside Llewyn DavisBud Grossman
2013The Gambler Who Wouldn't DieBraque
2014The Grand Budapest HotelMr. MoustafaNominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2014The Mystery of DanteDante Alter Ego
2014A Little GameNorman Wallach
2018Isle of DogsJupiter (voice)
2018Robin HoodCardinal
2019How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden WorldGrimmel (voice)[24]
2019Lady and the TrampTony
TBAThings Heard and SeenPost-production


Year Title Role Notes
1974How to Survive a MarriageJoshua Browne
1976All in the FamilyClerkEpisode: "The Unemployment Story: Part 1"
1977KojakSolly Nurse / Eddie Gordon2 episodes
1977A.E.S. Hudson StreetDr. MenziesAired pilot; replaced by Gregory Sierra
1977The Andros TargetsBobby CarrEpisode: "The Killing of a Porno Queen"
1977Sex and the Married WomanDuke SkaggsTelevision film
1982–1983Marco PoloJacopo6 episodes
1986Dream WestAbraham Lincoln2 episodes
1989The BetrothedInnominato2 episodes
1990A Season of GiantsPope Julius IITelevision film
1992The First CircleJoseph StalinTelevision film
1993Journey to the Center of the EarthProfessor HarlechTelevision film
1993Il caso DozierGoldsteinTelevision film
1996Dead Man's WalkCaptain Caleb CobbTelevision miniseries
1999Excellent CadaversTommaso BuscettaTelevision film
1999EstherMordechaiTelevision film
2000The DarklingBruno RubinTelevision film
2000ill it Un dono sempliceThomas BarlowTelevision film
2003Kingdom of David: The Saga of the IsraelitesNarratorTelevision documentary
2003Pompeii: The Last DayNarratorTelevision documentary
2005NOVA - Newton's Dark SecretsNarratorTelevision documentary
2007In the Valley of the WolvesNarratorTelevision documentary
2008Shark SwarmBill GirdlerTelevision film
2008The Wolf That Changed AmericaNarratorTelevision documentary
2009Saving GraceMatthewEpisode: "What Would You Do?"
2010Law & Order: Criminal IntentDr. Theodore NicholsEpisode: "Three-In-One"
2010Bored to DeathProfessor Richard HawkesEpisode: "I've Been Living Like a Demented God!"
2011–2012, 2014The Good WifeBurl Preston4 episodes
2011–2012, 2014LouieJohn / Uncle Excelsior / Louie's father3 episodes
2012Blue BloodsLeon GoodwinEpisode: "The Job"
2012–2018HomelandDar Adal39 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series (2015, 2018)
Nominated—Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series
2013Do No HarmCozarEpisode: "Six Feet Deep"
2013ElementaryDaniel GottliebEpisode: "A Landmark Story"
2016Inside Amy SchumerDiplomatEpisode: "Madame President"
2017Curb Your EnthusiasmHimselfEpisode: "Fatwa!"
2018The Good FightBurl PrestonEpisode: "Day 436"
2019The OrvilleCouncil chairmanEpisode: "Sanctuary"
2019ChimericaFrank Sams4 episodes
TBAMythic QuestC.W. LongbottomUpcoming television series




West End

  • The Mentor (2017) ... Benjamin Rubin

Awards and honors




Audio recording

Awards for lifetime achievement

In July 2004, during a ceremony in Rome, he was awarded the "Premio per gli Italiani nel Mondo". This is a prize distributed by the Marzio Tremaglia foundation and the Italian government to Italian emigrants and their descendants who have distinguished themselves abroad.

In 2009, he was recognized by the Alumni Association of the City College of New York with John H. Finley Award in recognition of exemplary dedicated service to the City of New York.

In 2010, Abraham was the recipient of The Gielgud Award (Theatre) for that year.[26]

In 2015, Abraham was an inductee to the American Theater Hall of Fame.[27]

He also has an honorary doctorate from Rider University in Lawrenceville, New Jersey.


  1. "Getting to Know F. Murray Abraham". La Stage Times. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  2. "Academy Award-Winning Actor F. Murray Abraham | The Diane Rehm Show from WAMU and NPR". The Diane Rehm Show. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  3. Salomon, Andrew (2007-02-15). "The Lion in Winter". Backstage.com. Archived from the original on 2007-03-04. Retrieved 2007-02-15.
  4. Stark, John (March 18, 1985). "His Meanie Role in Amadeus Makes Nice Guy F. Murray Abraham the Man to Beat for the Oscar : People.com". People Magazine. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  5. JOSEPHINE ABRAHAM Obituary - El Paso, TX | El Paso Times https://m.legacy.com › obituaries › obitu...
  6. How I Got My Equity Card. Actorsequity.org. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  7. F. Murray Abraham, Oscar Winner, Seeks Tolerance Through Arts Archived 2008-01-15 at the Wayback Machine. America.gov (2006-09-20). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  8. Tales from the Morgue: Hometown stars – F. Murray Abraham. Elpasotimes.typepad.com (2008-07-10). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  9. alumni
  10. Farber, Stephen (September 20, 1984). "The New York Times: Best Pictures". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  11. His Meanie Role in Amadeus Makes Nice Guy F. Murray Abraham the Man to Beat For the Oscar. People.com. Retrieved 2014-08-01.
  12. Jean-Jacques Annaud, The Name of the Rose, DVD commentary, Warner Home Video, 2004.
  13. "The Name of the Rose (Der Name der Rose)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2013-11-14.
  14. Stark, John (6 October 1986). "An Evil F. Murray Abraham Fights Friar Sean Connery in The Name of the Rose". People. Vol. 26 no. 14. p. 112. Retrieved 24 November 2017.
  15. "Is winning an Oscar a curse or a blessing?". Archived from the original on December 7, 2008. Retrieved 2007-05-20.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) film.com (2007).
  16. The official source for Broadway Information. IBDB. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  17. Span, Paula (29 September 1986). "F. Murray Abraham, Take 1". Washington Post. Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  18. "Theater: F. Murray Abraham Anchors Nathan The Wise by Michael Giltz, The Huffington Post, 14 April 2016
  19. Nemy, Enid. "BROADWAY." The New York Times. The New York Times, 25 Apr. 1985. Web. 25 Jan. 2017. <https://www.nytimes.com/1985/04/26/arts/broadway.html>.
  20. "The Movie : F. Murray Abraham". Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-28.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link). amadeusimmortal.com
  21. González, María Cortés. "Josephine Abraham, 96, loved life, according to famous son F. Murray Abraham". ElPasoTimes.com. El Paso Times and MediaNews Group. Archived from the original on 16 June 2013. Retrieved 15 June 2013.
  22. Healy, Patrick (January 26, 2010). "F. Murray Abraham: Action Hero". The New York Times. Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  23. (Arts & Entertainment) author: John Del Signore Archived 2015-08-26 at the Wayback Machine
  24. D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 14, 2017). "F. Murray Abraham To Get Evil For 'How To Train Your Dragon 3'". Deadline. Retrieved November 14, 2017.
  25. Rizzo, Frank. (2011-05-18) F. Murray Abraham Receives Obie for Tresnjak Production of "Merchant" Archived 2012-07-07 at Archive.today. Blogs.courant.com. Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  26. F. Murray Abraham Gielgud Award 2010. Vimeo.com (2011-01-17). Retrieved on 2012-10-15.
  27. "Theater Hall of Fame Ceremony, Honoring Susan Stroman, F. Murray Abraham, Philip J. Smith and More, Presented Tonight". www.playbill.com. May 4, 2015. Retrieved June 3, 2015.
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