James Caan is an American actor best known for his roles as Sonny Corleone in the 1972 film The Godfather, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award; and as Ed Deline in the television series Las Vegas, from 2003-2007.
He also has a starring role as Terry "The Cannon" Gannon, Sr., an opinionated, beer-guzzling ex-athlete who never quite made the cut as a single father or professional baseball player, in the television sitcom Back in the Game.
Caan began acting in television in such series as The Untouchables, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Combat!, Ben Casey, Dr. Kildare, The Wide Country, Alcoa Premiere, Route 66, and Naked City.
His first substantial film role was as a villain in the 1964 thriller Lady In A Cage. In 1967, Caan appeared in El Dorado with John Wayne.
He first won praise for his role as a brain-damaged football player in The Rain People (1969), directed by Francis Ford Coppola.
In 1971, Caan won more acclaim as dying football player Brian Piccolo in the television movie Brian's Song, which was later released in theatres.
The following year, Coppola cast Caan as mobster Sonny Corleone in The Godfather, which also helped launch Al Pacino's career. Caan was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in the film.
From 1973-82, Caan appeared in many Hollywood films, playing a wide variety of roles. His films include Cinderella Liberty, Rollerball, Harry And Walter Go To New York, A Bridge Too Far, Comes A Horseman and Chapter Two (a play screenplay conversion by Neil Simon).
In 1980, Caan directed Hide In Plain Sight, a film about a father searching for his children lost in the Witness Protection Program. Despite critical praise, the film was not a hit with the public.
The following year, Caan appeared in Thief, directed by Michael Mann, in which he played a professional safe cracker. This film is today regarded as a neo-noir classic and Caan has often said it is the role he is proudest of next to The Godfather.
From 1982-87, Caan suffered from depression over his sister's death, a growing problem with cocaine, and what he described as Hollywood burnout, and did not act in any films.
He returned to film in 1987 when Coppola cast him as an army platoon sergeant for the Old Guard in Gardens of Stone, a film that dealt with the effect of the Vietnam War on the homefront.
In 1988 and 1990, Caan starred in the films Alien Nation, Dick Tracy and Misery (co-star Kathy Bates won a Best Actress Oscar). In 1992, he made the hit Honeymoon in Vegas, co-starring with Sarah Jessica Parker and Nicolas Cage and spoofing his Sonny Corleone character from The Godfather.
In 1996, he appeared in the indie hit Bottle Rocket and pursued Arnold Schwarzenegger in Eraser.
In 1999, Caan followed Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, Powers Boothe and Danny Glover when he portrayed Philip Marlowe in the HBO film Poodle Springs.
Some of his most recent appearances have been in The Yards (2000), City of Ghosts (2002), Dogville (2003), and Elf (2003).
In 2003, he auditioned and won the role of the head security officer 'Big Ed' Deline in Las Vegas. On February 27, 2007, Caan announced that he would not return to Las Vegas for the show's fifth season in order to return to film work.
In 2006 Caan voiced his role of Sonny Corleone on the video games The Godfather: The Game, and The Godfather: Mob Wars.
Caan briefly lived at the Playboy Mansion in the 1970s.
He has been married four times. In 1960, he married Dee Jay Mathis; they had one child and divorced in 1966. His second marriage to Sheila Ryan (1976) was short lived: they divorced the next year. His son Scott was born in 1976.
Between September 1990 and March 1995, Caan was married to Ingrid Hajek; they also had one child. He married Linda Stokes in October 1996, and they divorced in April 2005. They have two children.
Caan is a practicing martial artist. He has trained with karate master Tak Kubota for nearly thirty years, earning various ranks. He trained the Culver City Police department in martial arts use.
Caan was regularly seen with Columbo family underboss Carmine "Junior" Persico during the filming of The Godfather. Caan is also friends with mafia member Ronald "Ronnie" Lorenzo, for whom Caan put his house up to bail him out of jail.
Caan testified at L.A. mafia tough guy Anthony Fiato's grand jury. He also appeared as a character witness in Lorenzo's trial.