Born as Emanuel Goldenberg in Bucharest (Romania) on 12 December 1893, he emigrated with his family to New York City (USA) in 1903. He had his Bar Mitzvah at First Romanian-American congregation, and attended Townsend Harris High School and then the City College of New York. An interest in acting led to him winning an American Academy of Dramatic Arts scholarship, after which he changed his name to Edward G. Robinson. Due to age, he could not qualify for military service during WWII.

He began his acting career in 1913 and made his Broadway debut in 1915. He made his film debut in a minor and uncredited role in 1916; in 1923 he made his named debut in The Bright Shawl. One of many actors who saw his career flourish in the new sound film era rather than falter, he made only three films prior to 1930 but left his stage career that year and made 14 films in 1930-1932.

An acclaimed performance as the gangster Caesar Enrico “Rico” Bandello in Little Caesar led to him being typecast as a “tough guy” for much of his early career in works such as Five Star Final, Smart Money, Tiger Shark, Kid Galahad with Bette Davis and Humphrey Bogart, and A Slight Case of Murder and The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse. In the 1940s, he expanded into psychological dramas including Double Indemnity, The Woman in the Window and Scarlet Street ; but he continued to portray gangsters such as Johnny Rocco in John Huston’s Key Largo (1948), the last of five films he made with Humphrey Bogart.

Robinson went to Europe for Seven Thieves (1960). He had support roles in My Geisha (1962), Two Weeks in Another Town (1962), Sammy Going South (1963), The Prize (1963), Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964), Good Neighbor Sam (1964), Cheyenne Autumn (1964), and The Outrage (1964).

Robinson was originally cast in the role of Dr. Zaius in Planet Of The Apes (1968) and he even went so far as to film a screen test with Charlton Heston. However, Robinson dropped out of the project before its production began due to heart problems and concerns over the long hours that he would have needed to spend under the heavy ape makeup. He was replaced by Maurice Evans.

His later appearances included The Biggest Bundle of Them All (1968) starring Robert Wagner and Raquel Welch, Never a Dull Moment (1968) with Dick Van Dyke, It’s Your Move (1968), Mackenna’s Gold (1969) starring Gregory Peck and Omar Sharif, and the Night Gallery episode “The Messiah on Mott Street” (1971).

The last scene that Robinson filmed was a euthanasia sequence, with his friend and co-star Charlton Heston, in the science fiction film Soylent Green (1973); he died 84 days later, on 26 January 1973, aged 79.

In There Goes A Tenner, ‘Edward G.’ was given a passing nod, along with Humphrey Bogart, George Raft and James Cagney.