Paul Shenar was an American film, TV, and theater actor. With his sharp features and powerful voice, Shenar excelled in villainous roles. He is best remembered for his stellar performance as the drug lord ‘Alejandro Sosa’ in the movie ‘Scarface.’ Shenar was involved with theater since a tender age. During his service with the ‘United States Air Force,’ Shenar had to put a temporary break to his acting interests. When his military career came to an end, he returned to acting. Shenar made his ‘Off-Broadway’ debut as ‘Michael’ in ‘Pullman Car Hiawatha,’ at the ‘Circle in the Square.’ Shenar’s ‘Broadway’ debut was as ‘Brother Julian’ in ‘Tiny Alice.’ He portrayed some powerful characters in TV movies such as ‘The Night That Panicked America,’ ‘Ziegfeld: The Man and His Women,’ and ‘The Hostage Heart.’ He lent his voice to the character of the evil rat ‘Jenner’ in the animation movie ‘The Secret of NIMH.’ ‘Scarface’ was the movie that helped Shenar display his acting prowess. He was a veteran in Shakespearean plays. Shenar was one of the founding members of the ‘American Conservatory Theater.’ He was a teacher, actor, and director there. During his final days, he contracted AIDS. He died at the age of 53.
Childhood & Early Days
Albert Paul Shenar was born on February 12, 1936, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, US, to Eugene Joseph Shenar and Mary Rosella. He had an older brother, John, and two younger brothers, Michael and Marc. Shenar was of Polish, Slovenian, Turkish, Greek, and Jewish descent.
Shenar attended the ‘University of Wisconsin.’ He was active in theater since a young age. Following his graduation, Shenar joined the ‘United States Air Force.’ He served them from 1954 to 1957. After resigning from the services, Shenar took up acting as a full-time profession.
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In 1962, Paul Shenar made his ‘Off-Broadway’ debut. He performed as ‘Michael’ in the play ‘Pullman Car Hiawatha,’ at the ‘Circle in the Square’ theatre. In 1965, he made his ‘Broadway’ debut, performing as ‘Brother Julian’ in the play ‘Tiny Alice.’
In the 1970s, Shenar made his entry into TV series and TV movies. In 1974, he performed in single episodes of several TV series, such as ‘Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law,’ ‘Mannix,’ and ‘Great Performances.’ The same year, he performed as ‘Crawford’ in the TV movie ‘The Execution of Private Slovik.’
In 1975, Shenar bagged one of the most significant roles of his career. He was chosen to perform as ‘Orson Welles’ in the TV movie ‘The Night That Panicked America.’ It was telecast on ‘ABC.’ The movie was based on the events surrounding the ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast by famed actor Orson Welles. The broadcast itself was based on the novel of the same name by H.G. Wells. The broadcast had created panic on the night it was aired. The movie featured Shenar as ‘Welles,’ and his performance was highly appreciated.
In 1976, Shenar appeared as ‘Charles Edward Royce’ in an episode of the action–drama series ‘Gemini Man.’ He was also seen as ‘Dr. Alan Cory’ in an episode of the science-fiction series ‘The Bionic Woman,’ titled ‘The Ghosthunter.’ The same year, Shenar was cast as ‘Lieutenant Wertz’ in two episodes of the series ‘Wonder Woman.’
In 1977, Shenar performed as ‘James Cardone’ in the TV movie ‘The Hostage Heart.’ The movie premiered on ‘CBS.’ The same year, he appeared as ‘John Carrington’ in an episode of the miniseries ‘Roots,’ titled ‘Part II.’
In 1982, Shenar performed as a voice actor for the animation movie ‘The Secret of NIMH.’ It was a dark fantasy movie directed by Don Bluth. Shenar lent his voice to the evil rat ‘Jenner.’ His performance was outstanding.
Shenar was one of the 27 founding members of the ‘American Conservatory Theater,’ based in San Francisco, California. It was aimed at promoting classical and contemporary theater and had an acting school, too. Shenar was an actor, director, and teacher at the ‘Conservatory’ for a long time. He performed in several plays for them. Some such plays were ‘Hamlet,’ ‘Oedipus Rex,’ and ‘Tiny Alice.’
In 1983, Shenar performed the character that became another milestone in his career. He portrayed the drug lord ‘Alejandro Sosa’ in the crime movie ‘Scarface.’ The movie was the story of a Cuban refugee, who rose to become a powerful drug lord. The lead role was performed by Al Pacino. Shenar’s character, ‘Alejandro Sosa,’ was a powerful cocaine dealer. Though the movie received criticism for excessive use of violence, Shenar made a mark with his performance.
In 1985, Shenar appeared in TV movies such as ‘Streets of Justice’ and ‘Best of the Football Follies.’ In 1986, Shenar performed as the villainous character ‘Paulo Rocca’ in the action movie ‘Raw Deal.’ In 1988, he portrayed ‘Dr. Laurence’ in the movie ‘The Big Blue.’ This was his last film appearance.
Family & Personal Life
Shenar was rumored to have been in a gay relationship with British actor Jeremy Brett. The relation lasted for 5 years.
Shenar contracted AIDS in his final days. On October 11, 1989, he breathed his last in West Hollywood, California.