Would the real Jon Voight please stand up? This chameleon actor wowed audiences as a Texan hustler even though he was from Yonkers, New York. He was a hippie who fought for peace, then turned around and cast the blame on himself—and other lefties. In his youth, he was a staunch Democrat, but he later called Donald Trump the “greatest president since Abraham Lincoln”. America has watched as Voight has done an amazing political 180. But how did this happen? Let’s look at the facts and see for ourselves.
Contradictory Facts About Jon Voight, Hollywood’s Reformed Hippie
1. It Began On A Cold Day
It was a cold December day in Yonkers, New York when Jon Voight came into this world. Dad was a professional golfer, and Mom stayed at home with the kids. There were three boys in total: Jon, Barry, and Chip. All three boys went to Archbishop Stepinac High School. It was there that Jon Voight became interested in something that would change his entire life.
2. They Had Three Different Paths
The three Voight brothers had different interests. Barry Voight went on to become a volcanologist who predicted the Mount Saint Helens volcano eruption. Chip, who later used the last name “Taylor”, wrote two extremely popular songs: “Wild Thing” and “Angel of the Morning”. Jon Voight, however, discovered the theater, and it soon became his passion.
3. He Got A Big Break
After graduating with his BA in 1960, Voight followed his passion and began acting. He appeared in a few TV series and then, in 1962, got a big Broadway break: The Sound of Music. This was a big deal as it was the original Broadway production of the much beloved musical. This wasn’t, however, just a stepping stone for Voight’s career. It also led to love.
4. They Were A Little Older
In The Sound of Music, Voight’s character Rolf, is in love with Liesl. On stage they shared one of production’s most iconic songs: “Sixteen Going on Seventeen”. Well, the real actors were a little older than that. Old enough, in fact, to get married. And that’s exactly what Jon Voight and Lauri Peters did in 1962. Soon after the wedding, however, Voight was back at it, picking up roles in mostly western and WWII TV dramas. Voight was doing what he could. Thankfully, his big break was just around the corner.
5. He Did It Twice
By the end of the 1960s, Voight had appeared in two films. Moviegoers would quickly forget one, and the other would literally make his career. The forgotten film was Fearless Frank, a spoof about a man who suddenly gets superpowers. The other film could not have been more different, and Voight played a street hustler in Midnight Cowboy. Before he got the role in Midnight Cowboy, the word on the street was that the film was going to be groundbreaking. Voight decided he needed the role and he’d do anything to get it.
6. He Had To Convince Them
Voight really wanted the part in Midnight Cowboy, but he had to get it first. The initial hurdle was his accent. Voight was from Yonkers, New York and the character in Midnight Cowboy was a good old boy from Texan. To improve his chances, Voight went to the Lone Star State and interviewed people as research for the job. Once he had the recordings, he played them back over and over again in order to get the accent right. He’d nailed the accent, but he still had to nail the audition.
7. They Had Someone Else
Voight went back to the producers and showed them his almost flawless Texan accent. They were impressed, but there was still one problem: they already had someone else in mind for the role. Producers had their eyes on hiring Michael Sarrazin to play Joe Buck. Sarrazin was from French-speaking Montreal, Canada, so Voight likely had him beat on the accent. Yet, for some reason, the producers were still leaning toward Sarrazin. Voight knew he had to do something to make himself stand out.
8. He Undercut
Voight was smart and knew the one thing that producers loved: saving money. He offered to appear in the film for minimum wage. When the producers went back to Sarrazin and told him that Voight was going to work for scale, Sarrazin walked. Voight had beat the system and got the role he wanted. But how well would he measure up against the other established actors in the film?
9. They Competed
Voight’s co-star on Midnight Cowboy was Dustin Hoffman—who was riding high on his performance in The Graduate. The two actors became quite competitive on set and would harass each other between takes. One thing they would say to each other after a scene was: “Buddy, is that the best you can do?” A little competition went a long way, and both Voight and Hoffman received nominations for Oscars for their roles. Now that Voight had Oscar street cred under his belt, nothing could stop him—except himself.
10. He Missed Millions
After his success in Midnight Cowboy, Voight was in demand. He received an offer to play the rather distinguished-sounding Oliver Barrett IV, which would be a great departure from his low-life character in Midnight Cowboy. Voight was not keen on the project and said “no” even though producers offered him 10% of the gross. This may have been a huge mistake. The film was the mega-popular Love Story, and it ended up grossing a little shy of $175 million. What Voight did say “yes” to, however, was quickly turning into a mess.
11. It Wasn’t Working Out
The film Voight did instead of Love Story was The All-American Boy. Voight would again be playing a Texan who got by on his good looks. Yet, once they’d filmed it, it seemed that most thought it was unsalvageable and a complete mess. The studio wasn’t going to release the film, and Voight feared for his future in movies. That’s when luck was “delivered” to his door.
12. He Was Young Enough
British director John Boorman was making a film about a canoe trip that was fraught with all kinds of danger. Boorman was hoping to get Lee Marvin and Marlon Brando to jump on board for Deliverance, but the stunts seemed too physical for older guys. Because of that, Voight got the part. Voight couldn’t have been happier: his career was up and running again.
13. They Saw Things Differently
Like with Midnight Cowboy, on Deliverance, Voight found himself with another male co-star to bond with: Burt Reynolds. The two, however, had very different approaches to their roles. Voight needed to look exhausted in many of the scenes, so he took a few minutes before each take to run around and look authentically tired. This infuriated Reynolds who simply spritzed his face with water and then acted tired. All the running sound was tiring Voight out, but he still had the energy for a life-changing event.
14. He Had Time
During the filming of Deliverance, Voight managed to find time to get married. He’d divorced his first wife a few years earlier, and his new wife was another actor: Marcheline Bertrand. Bertrand had a career going on in show business as well, but two years into their marriage, a son was born. The birth of James Haven made Bertrand take a step back from acting. When baby Angelina followed a few years later, Bertrand had to quit acting completely. No one knew it at the time, but little Angelina Voight was one day going to be an even bigger star than her daddy—and an even bigger thorn in his side.
15. He Was Out Carousing
When James and Angelina were still babies—and mom was often up to her ears in diapers—Voight made a new friend: world-famous boxer Muhammad Ali. Ali’s ex-wife, Khalilah, said that she would be at home with Bertrand and Voight’s two children, while Voight and Ali went out chasing women. Of course, baby Angelina had no idea about Voight’s womanizing at the time. But when she found out years later, there’d be a heap of trouble for daddy.
16. He Was A Class Act
One of Voight’s many transgressions came out years later. Black-Ish actor Jenifer Lewis wrote in her memoir about meeting Voight at the infamous Studio 54 in Manhattan. While it was certainly a one-night stand, Lewis says that Voight was the perfect gentleman. The two walked through Central Park and even took a carriage ride together. While he was married, we don’t know how many women Voight said “yes” to. We do know, however, which blockbuster films he said “no” to.
17. He Was Picky
Voight was famously very choosy about what films he wanted to star in, and his fame was solid enough to let him make those decisions. There are a few offers he rejected, however, that may have been a mistake. Steven Speilberg wanted him for his blockbuster Jaws—the role ultimately went to Richard Dryfess. The titular character in Superman was also offered to him. Again, Voight turned it down. It seemed that Voight was allergic to blockbuster movies. But was it snobbishness or just bad decisions?
18. He Walked Away
After all the running around chasing women with Muhammad Ali, Voight’s wife had had enough. She asked Voight to leave the family home—which he did. When Bertrand had met Voight, she was 21 and embarking on a career in acting. Now her career was over, and she had two young kids to take care of. Voight walked away and never looked back. This decision would soon come back to haunt him.
19. He Wanted It All
Next up for Voight was the film version of the play Love Streams. Voight had played the role on stage, so it was a no-brainer when it came to hiring him for the screen version. The producers had also hired acclaimed director John Cassavetes to direct the film. Just a few short weeks before the movie was to begin filming, Voight made an announcement: “I want to direct”. Cassavetes’ response was not what Voight had expected—or wanted.
20. They Said “No”
When Voight surprised everyone on the set of Love Streams by saying he wanted Cassevetes’ job, Cassevetes countered his idea by saying that he wanted to act. It seemed that both Voight and Cassavetes wanted the two roles of director and star. When the producers looked at their options, they made their decision: they wanted Cassevetes. Voight left with his tail between his legs—and had to go find a new job.
21. He Got Back In The Ring
Voight was never unemployed for long, and this situation was no exception. In 1979, Voight got to get back in the boxing ring in The Champ, a film about an over-the-hill boxer fighting to keep custody of his child. Surprisingly, that same year, Voight’s old friend from Midnight Cowboy—Dustin Hoffman—starred in a film that sounded kind of familiar.
22. They Fought Against Each Other
In The Champ, Voight was fighting for custody of his son from his ex-wife, played by Faye Dunaway. Hoffman’s film—Kramer Vs Kramer—had Hoffman fighting for his son from his ex-wife, played by Meryl Streep. Both films were a success, and Voight was up against his Midnight Cowboy co-star for the Best Actor award at the Golden Globes. Sadly for Voight, Hoffman took home the trophy—and got an Oscar out of the deal, too. Losing to Hoffman wasn’t good for Voight’s ego. Unfortunately, his next venture into romance was equally devastating.
23. He Dated Down
Sometime in the 1980s, Voight met soap opera star Eileen Davidson, who had played characters on both The Young and the Restless and Days of Our Lives. It was a bit unusual for an Academy Award-nominated actor to be dating a daytime TV star, but there were apparently sparks flying left right and center. The real question was: were those sparks real or just manufactured? Some say that Davidson was with Voight for one reason and one reason only—and it wasn’t true love.
24. It Backfired
While Voight was dating Davidson, he wrote and starred in the film Eternity. He also happened to cast his girlfriend, Davidson, in this fantasy movie. Some say that this was what Davidson was after from her much older boyfriend. She wanted out of daytime TV and into Hollywood A-list movies. Davidson’s plan however, backfired. Eternity was a big flop and went straight to video. She dumped Voight shortly after.
25. He Lived In A Small World
In 1993, Voight replaced Tommy Lee Jones as Woodrow F. Call in the hugely successful western miniseries Lonesome Dove. Three years later, another actor with a “Lee” in his name—Jonny Lee Miller—would play Woodrow F. Call, but in a prequel. In a strange twist of fate, Miller would go on to marry Voight’s daughter, Angelina Jolie, that very same year. Some may call this situation ironic. It was fitting, considering Voight’s next job would be on a show known for oozing irony from every scene.
26. He Went Ironic
Voight had done a lot of roles, but something he hadn’t ventured into was comedy. In 1994, there wasn’t a more popular—or ironic—sitcom on TV than Seinfeld. The producers of the show came knocking on Voight’s door with a very strange idea for an episode. This was the pitch they gave to Voight: George—played by Jason Alexander—buys a car that the owner says once belonged to Jon Voight. So, was the car the guest star on Seinfeld or was it going to be Voight?
27. He Bit Him
It turned out that the car had belonged to a Voight but his name was “John”, not “Jon”. Also, he wasn’t an actor: he was a periodontist. Jon Voight appears in only one scene in the episode where he bites Kramer who gets a little too close for comfort. The episode mentions Voight’s name numerous times and even ends with a Midnight Cowboy-influenced finale. It’s good Voight had a role to laugh about—because tragedy was just around the corner.
28. It Was A Mission Possible
Around 1995, Voight got some disturbing news: his mother had cancer. Voight still wanted to work, but he also wanted to be near his mother as much as possible. When an opportunity arose for him to appear in Mission: Impossible with Tom Cruise, he jumped at it. Voight brought his mother to the shoot in Prague, so they could spend some quality time together before she passed. It was a sweet thing to do, but Voight didn’t stop there.
29. He Paid For Them All
Jon Voight was filming a movie in Louisville when he wandered into a grocery store. Inside the store, he met a woman who was buying turkeys for a charity event. Voight was so touched by this woman’s generosity that he did something surprising: he offered to pay for all the turkeys. What a guy! Obviously, Hollywood critics had no idea how charitable Voight was. If they knew, they may not have served up this next turkey of an insult.
30. He Was Dishonored
In 1997, Academy Award-winning Voight made an odd choice for his next role. The usually very picky actor agreed to appear in Anaconda with Jennifer Lopez. An action/horror film without any deep inner meaning was not something Voight usually did. Critics were well aware of this and came up with a plan to punish him for it. They got together and nominated Voight for a Golden Raspberry, which was for the worst performances in film that year.
Luckily for Voight, Kevin Costner took home most of the Razzies for his film The Postman. Voight’s fortunes continued to rise, and there was an Oscar buzz performance just around the corner.
31. He Transformed
In 2001, Voight got the chance to work on a movie about his late friend Muhammad Ali. On the set of Ali, Voight spent six hours in makeup to become real life sports broadcaster Howard Cossell. The Academy seemed to appreciate all Voight’s hard work and nominated him for Best Supporting Actor. In reality, however, Voight should have got another award: kindest actor.
32. He Called Home
One night, during the filming of Ali, the workday was turning into a very long work night. Many of the male extras had a concern that being missing in action would cause suspicion with their wives back at home. Since the director needed the extras on set all the time, Voight did them a favor. He took all their cell phones and called home for them. When the extras’ wives checked their messages, they heard this: “This is Jon Voight. Don’t worry, your husband is still on set working, not out in a bar, or chasing girls”. What Voight should have been worrying about, however, was his own family life.
33. He Lost Touch
Voight had not had a lot of connection to his two children. His daughter had grown up into one of Hollywood’s biggest stars: Angelina Jolie. There was one connection, however, and it was quite odd. Back in 1978, Voight appeared in Coming Home. In the film, he had an affair with a Vietnam vet who was played by Bruce Dern. Well, real life was about to create a bizarre mirror to what happened in Coming Home.
34. She Swooped In
While Voight only took Bruce Dern’s spouse in a fictional sense, Angelina Jolie did it in real life. In this story, however, it was a different Dern: Bruce’s daughter, Laura. Laura Dern was engaged to Billy Bob Thorton when Jolie swooped in and claimed him as her own. Is this just a strange coincidence—or another example of how small Hollywood is? Jolie may have been the cheater in this scenario, but this didn’t stop her from pointing a finger at her father.
35. She Reached Out
Jolie blamed Voight for her mother’s unhappiness and didn’t want much to do with him. However, when Jolie was filming Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, she reached out and asked her dad to play her character’s father. This was supposed to be a real bonding time for the estranged father and daughter. In reality, however, things quickly went downhill.
36. He Called Her Names
The truth was that Voight was only in one scene with Jolie in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. That one scene, however, seemed to be enough time to catch up. Once the film came out, the two weren’t talking to each other again. Voight, however, was talking to the press. He said that Jolie was never normal and had “serious mental issues”.
Jolie’s comeback was silent and severe: she dropped her father’s name and did not speak to him for seven years. You may think this would leave Voight sad and lonely. But when you’re Jon Voight, happiness is just a pop star away.
37. He Met A Lady
In 2005, iconic soul singer Diana Ross had just emerged from a dark time in her life. Motown founder—and personal friend—Berry Gordy told Ross that all she needed now was one thing: a lover. Gordy didn’t just supply the advice, he also supplied Jon Voight as the man. Voight and Ross attended a tribute to Ross’ film, Lady Sings the Blues, and the public got a glimpse of them holding hands.
However, Ross was soon singing the blues for real as the relationship only lasted six months. Yet, if Ross wanted to never see Voight again, it was going to be really hard.
38. He Seemed To Be Everywhere
To many of the TV-watching and film-going public, Voight seemed to be absolutely everywhere. Many people wondered how one man could be in so many different projects at a time. It turned out there was a reason for this. Many casual filmgoers seemed to mistake him for another actor: Hollywood’s workaholic, Christopher Walken. Maybe Voight’s appearance was often mistaken, but no one could mistake the snub he was about to receive from his daughter, Angelina Jolie—it was just plain brutal.
39. She Turned Away
Voight’s ex-wife, Marcheline Bertrand, had been suffering through a battle with cancer and, in 2007, the disease took her life. Angelina Jolie had been very close to her mother, and her passing was a huge trauma. Jolie could have turned to her father for support—even though they weren’t officially talking to each other. Instead, she did something that shocked and hurt Voight: she called herself an orphan. And if Jolie needed another reason to despise Voight, it was just around the corner.
40. He Didn’t Pay
It turned out there was another reason for Jolie to be angry at Voight. When Bertrand passed, her estate became a matter of public interest. What they found in her personal records was quite astonishing: Voight still owed Bertrand spousal support from when she was raising the kids alone. The amount he owed was $180,000. Bertrand didn’t need all that money, but it was hurtful that Voight didn’t think to send anything for his kids. While Voight may have regretted not paying support, he apparently regretted a whole lot of other things.
41. He Flipped
In 2008, Voight wrote an article in The Washington Times. The article was full of regret. He regretted fighting for peace back in the 1960s. He even blamed himself and other peace lovers for starting some conflicts—in Vietnam, for example—and held the radicals responsible for the slaughter of innocent people. You didn’t have to look closely between the lines to get it: he’d flipped from being a Democrat to supporting the Republicans. And what was his first act as a newly reformed conservative? He went after Barack Obama of course.
42. He Went For Him
Now that Voight had outed himself as a Republican, he turned to Barack Obama, who at this time was bidding to be the president. Voight said that the Democrats had used subliminal messages and a campaign of propaganda to make Obama into a god. And what did he think was going to be the result of that? Obama would make the United States into a socialist country. Voight’s strange attempt to stop Obama failed, but that didn’t stop him from harassing the newly elected president.
43. He Accused The President
Voight wrote an open letter in the Washington Post in 2010. In it, he had three accusations for the president of the United States. Voight said that Obama controlled the media, told lies, and was anti-Semitic. He then turned his pen on his co-star from Coming Home. According to Voight, Jane Fonda also had something against Jewish people. Voight seemed to be on some sort of finger-pointing rant. And what about his daughter, who had done her own share of playing the blame game? Where was she in all this?
44. They Walked The Red Carpet
A few years after the $180,000 spousal support embarrassment, Jolie was busy with film projects. She had just made In the Land of Blood and Honey—serving as both writer and director—and was getting ready for the premiere. Her then-boyfriend, Brad Pitt, suggested that she reach out to Voight and invite him to the premiere. Somehow, Pitt convinced her, and the two went to the premiere together. This reconciliation, however, was doomed and short-lived.
45. He Didn’t Get An Invite
When Angelina Jolie promoted Brad Pitt from boyfriend to husband, it was going to be the wedding of the year. Invites were about as precious as a diamond: it was only going to be a close friends and family situation. You’d think that the father of the bride would make the cut, but he didn’t. Voight found out about the wedding the same way everyone did—through the media. His official comment was: “That’s nice”. Jolie later said that she didn’t invite Voight to her wedding as she was afraid of his behavior. As it turned out, Jolie may have had good reason to fear her mother-in-law’s behavior as well.
46. He Had An Ally
While Jolie and Pitt have no shortage of gay fans and friends, their parents certainly do. In June 2012, Pitt’s mom, Jane Pitt, caused a stir when she wrote a letter to the Springfield News-Leader. In the letter, Pitt argued against gay marriage. When Voight read the letter, he had this to say: “Good for her”. Pitt’s beliefs didn’t stop her from getting an invite to the wedding, however. Maybe Jolie was right about Voight’s behavior, because it was about to go from eccentric to violent.
47. He Lost It
While Voight was appearing in TV’s Ray Donovan, it seems his behavior was out of control. Co-star Frank Whaley said that during a scene he was filming with Voight, Voight lost it and hit him in the face. When folks suggested that Whaley was lying, he had the ultimate proof: a pic of the incident taken by the still photographer who was on the set. When journalists asked Whaley why Voight hit him, he said it was because Voight couldn’t keep up. It’s true Voight was a little older than the rest of the cast on Ray Donovan. This didn’t, however, stop him from getting some action between the sheets.
48. He Was Disgusted
Another thing that happened on the set of Ray Donovan was a little more personal. Voight was 75 years old at the time, and the creators of the show thought it would be interesting to show the audience how his character behaved in the bedroom. After doing the intimate scene, Voight didn’t hold back when asked to comment on it. He said “it was disgusting”. Voight certainly didn’t mince words: and neither did his favorite president.
49. He Thanked God
In 2017, when the outspoken Donald Trump took the presidency, Voight finally felt that the right man was in the White House. The former president even invited Voight to speak at his inauguration. In his speech, Voight thanked God for putting Trump in charge. A couple of years later, Voight called Trump the “greatest president since Abraham Lincoln”. As long as Donald Trump was in the White House, Voight seemed happy. Then, came the election of 2021, and the end of Voight’s Republican fantasies.
50. He Left A Creepy Message
Once his hero Donald Trump had left the White House, Jon Voight had to return to harassing the Democrats. In a video—which some say showed Voight to be “creepy and dead-eyed”—he calls for the impeachment of President Biden. On Twitter, Voight said that he and other Republicans were fighting against Satan himself. So, what happened to the little hippie that was living inside Jon Voight? Well, he’s clearly left the building.
Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20