Alan Wolf Arkin (born March 26, 1934) is an Oscar-nominated American actor.
Arkin was born in New York City to a Jewish family. His father, David I. Arkin, was a painter and writer who mostly worked as a teacher. Both his father and his mother, Beatrice, were Communists, which led to his father losing his job during the 1950s. 
Arkin is one of only five actors to receive an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor for his first screen appearance (for The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming) in 1966. Two years later, he was again nominated, for The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. In a piece he wrote for the Second City book, Arkin wanted to be an actor since he was five. It was in a performance in St. Louis that Arkin caught a casting director's eye, who later met with the actor to tell him about a comedy troupe he was assembling in Chicago and if he wanted a job, it was open. Arkin politely declined, before heading back to New York City with the impression that he wasn't going to lose out on a career by moving to Chicago. But after another year as a struggling actor at 29 years old, Arkin called the director and asked if the offer was still open. With the offer still on the table, he packed his bags and headed for the midwest, thinking it was a mistake. But Arkin later said that it turned out to be the best thing in his life since it turned around when he joined what was The Second City comedy troupe.
Arkin is equally comfortable in comedy and dramatic roles, in such diverse films as Inspector Clouseau, Catch-22, Freebie and The Bean, Hearts of the West, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution (where he played Sigmund Freud), The Return Of Captain Invincible, Edward Scissorhands, The Rocketeer, the 1979 The In-Laws, Glengarry Glen Ross, Four Days in September, So I Married an Axe Murderer, Jerky Boys: The Movie, Raising Flagg, The Defection of Simas Kudirka, Slums of Beverly Hills and Little Miss Sunshine.
His son is actor Adam Arkin.
Arkin has also enjoyed a minor literary career, including a pair of science fiction stories published in Galaxy magazine; children's books including The Clearing and Cassie Loves Beethoven, and the science fiction short story "The Amazing Grandy", about Martin Gardner-style debunkers, in the August 2001 issue of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
Arkin was a member of mid-50's folk group The Tarriers; in 1956 they had their biggest hit with a version of the "Banana Boat Song" (it reached #4 on the Billboard charts), the same year that Harry Belafonte recorded his more famous version. 
Alan Arkin played recorder on the 1956 Ed McCurdy release "When Dalliance Was in Flower". Elektra LP EKL-110. This album jacket has the following to say about Arkin: "(Arkin)...is an accomplished young man in his early twenties. He plays the guitar and recorder and has worked as a television and stage actor, delivery boy, dude ranch entertainer, pot washer and baby sitter. He has recorded an entire album for Elektra titled "Folksongs-Once Over Lightly".
Arkin co-wrote "The Only Living Boy In New York" with Paul Simon. citation needed