February 12, 1936
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States
October 11, 1989
Actor, Drama teacher
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It is a testament to the acting style of Paul Shenar that early in his career he was chosen to play two of the largest personalities in show business history. In 1975 he portrayed filmmaking legend Orson Welles in the made for TV drama "The Night That Panicked America," a retelling of the events surrounding the director's infamous 1938 radio broadcast of "War of the Worlds." Three years later Shenar would take on the role of famed theater producer Flo Ziegfeld in another made-for-TV movie. He grew up in Milwaukee, where his immersion in local theater productions led to the calling of acting. After a stint in the Air Force, Shenar, along with other fellow thespians, was integral in founding the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, where he became a performer and teacher for the remainder of his career. He branched into television in the 1970s, playing bit parts in the decade's biggest hits until landing the two huge roles as Welles and Ziegfeld. His feature-film career began to take off simultaneously with his TV success, and he gravitated to more villainous performances. He was the voice of the conspiratorial rat Jenner in the animated adventure "The Secret of NIHM," played opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger in the crime drama "Raw Deal," and was most famously the Bolivian cocaine kingpin, Alejandro "Don't fuck me, Tony!" Sosa in Brian DePalma's crime thriller "Scarface" in 1983. Shenar contracted the AIDS virus and died at the age of 53.