Arthur Penn was born on September 27, 1922 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Arthur Penn is a man who has made a career out of chaos. From his early days in the "Golden Era of Television," to working with some of the most recognized names in Hollywood, Penn has had little use for the mainstream. He is a director who can always get the audience to root for the underdog. Penn started his disorderly career in the early days of television. It was a high-pressure world, which either taught you to handle stress or broke you in the process. Penn started as a cue-card man on "The Milton Berle Show," but in just two short years, he had risen to the role of director. From his very first days as a director, Penn had a knack for being unorthodox; completely changing the way television was filmed. Before Penn, camera shots were carefully planned out; requiring the actors to move along with whichever camera was next in the order of shots. Penn decided to let the action dictate which camera would be used, rather than the other way around. Penn went on to direct his first major film, The Left-Handed Gun (1958) starring Paul Newman, in which he revised the Western genre. The Left-Handed Gun was more than a "white-hats vs. black-hats" shoot out. It took a psychological approach, showing Billy the Kid as a wild juvenile delinquent bent on revenge. It was also an opportunity to use effects that were unavailable for television. A scene in which Billy maps out the Sheriff's death on a fogged-over window is photographic genius. Penn fell into directing Broadway plays after his first film, working with such actors as Henry Fonda, Sammy Davis Jr. and George C. Scott. A big success for Penn was The Miracle Worker, starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke. Penn's next project was the thriller Mickey One (1965). It is a story of a nightclub comic pursued by mysterious forces for a crime he's not even sure he committed.