Exuberant actor who won Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor for his roles in the films Viva Zapata! (1952) and Lust for Life (1956). He also received a National Board of Review Award for Best Actor for his starring role as Alexis Zorba in the 1964 film Zorba the Greek.
In his youth, he worked as a professional boxer and studied art and architecture with Frank Lloyd Wright.
He starred in the 1954 Federico Fellini film La Strada.
His first wife was Cecil B. DeMille's adopted daughter.