HFA Recipient – 24th Annual LA Music Awards
This American film actor also multitasks as a producer, composer and production manager. He rose to fame in the 1970s, praised for his range and sensitivity. His blonde rugged looks helped viewers connect even more easily to his powerful performances.
Born John Youngs in Old Bethpage, New York, Savage attended the American Academy of Performing Arts. The Long Island boy debuted on Broadway in the chorus of “Fiddler On the Roof”. He ended up playing one of the sons, after another actor fell sick. During this production, managers Stewart Cohen and Rudy Altobelli discovered Savage. Between 1972 and 1975, Savage did a number of films, a TV show and spent three years doing theater in Chicago; “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Dance on a Country Grave”.
He subsequently moved to Los Angeles to star in “Eric” with Patricia Neal and Mark Hamill, and then was cast by director Ulu Grosbard to play “Bobby” in the original production of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo”.
Savage first made a major splash with The Deer Hunter (1978), winner of the 1979 Best Picture Oscar. The film’s impact on Hollywood and America remains enormous. Director Michael Cimino cast him as “Steven”, who returns from Vietnam missing his legs.
The following year, this actor enjoyed leads in two more big pictures: the film adaptation of Joseph Wambaugh’s The Onion Field (1979) and Milos Forman’s musical Hair (1979). Savage played the corn-fed recruit “Claude Hooper Bukowski”, who turns on, tunes in and drops out. Critics and film historians celebrated his performance — both then and now. In fact, John Willis’ “Screen World” hailed him as one of the 12 promising new actors of 1979 (Vol. 31).
In another major role, Savage appeared as the suicide-survivor in Richard Donner’s Inside Moves (1980). Sensitive and moving, this feel-good film delivers a powerful message about overcoming adversity. He was nominated for Best Actor-Foreign for his work in The Amateur (1981). He went on to co-star in Maria’s Lovers (1984) with Nastassja Kinski, backed by cinema legend Robert Mitchum.
Later films include Oliver Stone’s Salvador (1986) and Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather: Part III (1990) in place of Robert Duvall (who refused to appear due to a salary dispute). During the late 80s, Savage threw his star power behind the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. He continues to work despite his activism, including guest appearances in The X-Files (1993), Star Trek: Voyager (1995), Dark Angel (2000) and various “Law & Order” episodes.
He first collaborated with director Spike Lee as the bike-riding gentrifier in Do the Right Thing (1989), and then shifted to the camera’s other side for Malcolm X (1992) and Summer of Sam (1999). He also had a brief, but powerful, role in Terrence Malick’s war epic, The Thin Red Line (1998).
Married twice — first to artist Susan Youngs and later to South African TV star Sandi Schultz — Savage is the father of ceramic artist Lachlan Youngs and actress/singer/songwriter Jennifer Youngs.
– IMDb Mini Biography By: Amanda Castleman
Born John Youngs in Old Bethpage, New York, Savage sang and acted throughout his early school years. At the age of 17, his true passion began to come to fruition once accepted into the prestigious American Academy of Performing Arts.
Upon graduation, he landed his first job on Broadway in the chorus of “Fiddler On the Roof” as well as the understudy for one of the lead characters. His major debut came during this understudy position, attracting the attention of Los Angeles agents and managers. His theatrical run continued in Chicago, playing “Billy Bibbit” in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.
Shortly after arriving in Los Angeles, the budding Savage found himself cast in the original production of David Mamet’s “American Buffalo” playing the role of “Bobby” under the direction of the esteemed Ulu Grosbard. It was on this set that his co-star, Robert Duvall, met and later married Savage’s younger sister, Gail Youngs.
John’s major screen debut came in 1978 with the Oscar-winning Best Picture film, The Deer Hunter (1978), which gained him international attention for his work. The following year, he had leads in two more big pictures, Milos Forman’s musical Hair (1979) and the film adaptation of Joseph Wambaugh’s The Onion Field (1979). His appearance as a suicide survivor in Richard Donner’s Inside Moves (1980) continued to garner him praise as an actor of great range and diversity. He was nominated for Best Actor-Foreign for his work in The Amateur (1981). He went on to co-star in Maria’s Lovers (1984) with Nastassja Kinski, backed by cinema legend Robert Mitchum.
While his film career was blossoming, his TV career was just budding. He landed several series regular roles throughout his years, first being introduced onto TV as “Jim Malloy” of the NBC series Gibbsville (1976) as well as several movies for television.
During the late 80s through mid 90s, Savage threw his star power behind the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa. It was here working alongside Nelson Mandela that he found himself back in his “Hollywood” roots working as the assistant production manager of Spike Lee’s film Malcolm X (1992). Savage had previously worked with Lee as co-producer and one of the stars of Do the Right Thing (1989), and later showed up again in Lee’s Summer of Sam (1999) as well as his Showtime TV movie Sucker Free City (2004). Previous to this, he had also helped organize the Manhattan Children’s Theatre Group, which continues to encourage the performing arts to at risk inner-city youth.
Since his return back to Los Angeles, John’s career remains split between both television and film projects. He was a series regular on James Cameron’s Dark Angel (2000), as well as the acclaimed HBO series “Carnivale” (2003). His silver screen presence remained with roles in American Strays (1996), The Thin Red Line (1998) and Message in a Bottle (1999). In 2009, John will have several projects being released, including Handsome Harry (2009) (opposite Steve Buscemi) and The Coverup (2008) (opposite Eliza Dushku and Gabriel Macht). John is set to star in the upcoming trilogy Nephilim (2015) which begins production in late 2009.
As a producer, John has several projects in development and is committed to working with up-and-coming writers and directors.