A Vietnam veteran supports himself and his father's NYC diner by becoming a taxi driver. Along the way he struggles with relationships and his daily life while aspiring to be a cartoonist.
The main character is played by Martin Henry Balsam. Balsam was born on November 4, 1919 in the Bronx, New York City, to Lillian (Weinstein) and Albert Balsam, a manufacturer of women's sportswear. He was the first-born child. His father was a Russian Jewish immigrant, and his mother was born in New York, to Russian Jewish parents. Martin caught the acting bug in high school where he participated in the drama club. After high school, he continued his interest in acting by attending Manhattan's progressive New School. When World War II broke out, Martin was called to service in his early twenties. After the war, he was lucky to secure a position as an usher at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. By 1947, he was honing his craft at the Actors Studio, run at that time by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg. His time at the Actors Studio in New York City allowed him training in the famous Stanislavsky method. Despite his excellent training, he had to prove himself, just like any up and coming young actor. He began on Broadway in the late 1940s. But, it was not until 1951 that he experienced real success. That play was Tennessee Williams' "The Rose Tattoo". After his Broadway success, he had a few minor television roles before his big break arrived when he joined the cast of On the Waterfront (1954).