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Actor Chris Sarandon Jr. was born July 24, 1942, in Beckley. From age 9 or 10, he worked part-time at his father’s Eatwell Cafe in Beckley. His father, Chris Sarandon Sr., was a Greek immigrant born in Istanbul, Turkey. His mother, Maria “Cliffie” Cardullias Sarandon, the daughter of two Greek immigrants, regularly fixed traditional Greek food at home. As a teen, the young Sarandon was a drummer in a rock ‘n’ roll band, The Teen Tones. He graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in Beckley in 1960 and was an early cast member in Honey in the Rock, a play about West Virginia statehood performed at nearby Grandview State Park. In 1964, he received a bachelor’s degree in theater from West Virginia University. He later earned a master’s degree from Catholic University in Washington, where he met and married Susan Tomalin, who later gained fame as the actress Susan Sarandon. Since 1994, he has been married to Joanna Hall Gleason, a Tony Award-winning actress who has appeared in films, plays, and musicals.

Chris Sarandon has appeared on stage and screen, with films including The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), The Princess Bride (1987), and Fright Night (1985). Sarandon was nominated in 1976 for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and a Best Acting Debut Golden Globe Award for his performance in the motion picture Dog Day Afternoon, which starred Al Pacino. In 1980, Sarandon starred as Jesus Christ in the television movie The Day Christ Died. His television work has included appearances on such network shows as NBC’s Judging Amy, Felicity, ER, and The Good Wife.

In a magazine interview in 1998, Sarandon cited the influence in his life of WVU Professor Patrick Ward Gainer, who taught a folklore course, and Professor Emeritus Charles Neel, who suggested that Sarandon consider majoring in theater. ‘‘After a couple of productions, there was no turning back,’’ Sarandon said. In 2006 he appeared in the Broadway production of The Light in the Piazza and in 2007 in another Broadway production, Cyrano de Bergerac, along with Jennifer Garner, another West Virginian. Sarandon and his wife, Joanna, live in Connecticut.

This Article was written by Larry Sonis

Last Revised on August 17, 2023


Terman, Tim. Distinguished Alumni Recall West Virginia University. West Virginia University Alumni Magazine, (Summer 1998).

Cite This Article

Sonis, Larry "Chris Sarandon." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 17 August 2023. Web. 26 February 2024.


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