He also took classes at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City.

Hoffman initially hoped to become a classical pianist, having studied piano during much of his youth and in college.

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In 1966, director Mike Nichols auditioned Hoffman for a lead role in the Broadway musical The Apple Tree, but rejected him because he could not sing well enough and gave Alan Alda the part.

But Nichols was so impressed with Hoffman's overall audition he cast him as the male lead in the movie The Graduate (1967).

To help the director, whom he had never met, overcome that false impression, Hoffman met him in Times Square dressed as a homeless person, wearing a dirty raincoat, his hair slicked back and with an unshaven face.

Schlesinger was sold, admitting, "I've only seen you in the context of The Graduate, but you'll do quite well." Midnight Cowboy premiered in theaters across the United States in May 1969.

The Graduate was a gigantic box-office hit for Embassy Pictures, making Hoffman a major new star at the same time. Time magazine called Hoffman "a symbol of youth" who represented "a new breed of actors." The film's screenwriter, Buck Henry, notes that Hoffman's character made conventional good looks no longer necessary on screen: A whole generation changed its idea of what guys should look like. It's a film one digs, rather than understands intellectually." Turner Classic Movies critic Rob Nixon notes that Hoffman represented "a new generation of actors." He credits Hoffman with breaking "the mold of the traditional movie star and brought to their roles a new candor, ethnicity, and eagerness to dive deep into complex, even unlikable characters." Nixon expands on the significance of the film to Hoffman's career: "In The Graduate, he created a lasting resonance as Ben Braddock that made him an overnight sensation and set him on the road to becoming one of our biggest stars and most respected actors." Hoffman, however, mostly credits director Mike Nichols for taking a great risk in giving him, a relative unknown, the starring role: "I don't know of another instance of a director at the height of his powers who would take a chance and cast someone like me in that part.

It took tremendous courage." Critic Sam Kashner observed strong similarities between Hoffman's character and that of Nichols when he previously acted with Elaine May in the comedy team of Nichols and May. Don't worry, I'm coming right back.' He was then offered the lead in Midnight Cowboy (1969), which he accepted partly to prove many critics were wrong about his acting range and the variety of characters he could portray.Ishtar (lyrics: "Half Hour Song", "Sitting on the Edge of My Life", "Harem Girl") / (music: "Half Hour Song", "Sitting on the Edge of My Life", "Harem Girl") / (performer: "Dangerous Business", "Little Darlin'", "Portable Picnic", "That's Amore", "Love in My Will", "Software", "The Echo Song", "Carol", "That a Lawnmower Can Do All That", "Wardrobe of Love", "Half Hour Song", "Sitting on the Edge of My Life", "Tomorrow", "Hello Ishtar", "Harem Girl", "Brdige Over Troubled Water", "Strangers in the Night", "There's No Business Like Show Business", "My Lips on Fire", "Have Not Blues", "I Look to Mecca", "How Big Am I?He won the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1980 for Kramer vs. Widely considered one of the finest actors in history, Hoffman first drew critical praise for starring in the play, Eh?Robinson, an alcoholic and a neurotic, and the wife of his father's business partner.This was Hoffman's first major role, and he received an Academy Award nomination for it but lost to Rod Steiger in In the Heat of the Night. I think Dustin's physical being brought a sort of social and visual change, in the same way people first thought of Bogart. Hoffman biographer Jeff Lenburg adds that "newspapers across the country were deluged with thousands of letters from fans," with one example published in the New York Times: "I identified with Ben... He was confused about his future and about his place in the world, as I am.For his acting, Hoffman received his second Oscar nomination and the film won Best Picture.