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Efrem Zimbalist Jr. dies at 95


JakeHolman
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GIFs -- moving pictures -- are ironically not permitted on this film forum.

 

 

From your tone I'm gonna presume you're being jocular and know about "The Cage" and "The Menagerie" and all that stuff.

 

I'm kinda confused by all your Robert Fuller references, so I'll just say I recently rewatched a wagonload of Wagon Trains as well as some Laramies. Fuller certainly dominates the rather bland (and thus aptly named) John Smith.

 

There's an in-depth Fuller video interview done for the 50th anniversary of Wagon Train that's actually pretty interesting.

Again hmmm. I didn't find any of those pictures to be moving. Perhaps another drink? :lol:

 

I really couldn't remember the title, but of course that's it. Laramie on ME TV? Again darn.

 

Can you point me to the Fuller interview? Is it online? Thanks.

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The FBI came on Sunday at 8:00pm after "Voyage To The Bottom of The Sea" during the early to mid 1960's.  Could never watch it because I was in elementary school and it was near bedtime.  Still can remember the commentator, The FBI...In Color..

 

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. had a few appearances on Babylon 5 during the mid 1990's

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RIP. 

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When I was a mere babe in swaddling clothes I found The FBI and him very boring, but I was fascinated by his name -- both by its strangeness for a TV star, as well as its very rhythm: "efremzimbalist". It sounded like a magic incantation.

 

 

You weren't the only one, RK.

 

You might remember that Cliff "Uncle Charlie Weaver" Arquette had an initial on-going joke answer of "Efrem Zimbalist Jr." on the "Hollywood Squares" game show whenever host Peter Marshall would ask him a "Who is known for such-and-such?" question.

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To make it to 95 in Solvang California wine country is not such a bad way to finish off his life, is it?    Good for him, and may heaven be even better-if's that's possible.  Maybe heaven is Solvang without risk of earthquakes.

 

But I would have sworn he did a cameo on Two and Half Men around 2007-2008 with Holland Taylor, playing one her many quickie bed partners in the series, yet the IMDB didn't list it.

 

I did like 77SS better than anything else he did.  The FBI was one of my parents favorites, but I was younger and appreciated the younger co-star's looks more, but that's TV.  Among the Qwinn/Martin productions I remember, I liked The Untouchables best -- with another of the grand gentlemen of Hollywood - Robert Stack.

 

RIP Efrem

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I was a big fan of "77 Sunset Strip", and usually preferred the episodes that featured Zimbalist.  Something about his look and demeanor( plus, of course, the NAME) that appealed to me more.  Confidence without swagger, intelligence without arrogance, dry sense of humor.  It's hard to find those qualities in many TV cop/detective characters today.

 

He did an episode of "Twilight Zone"( or was it HITCHCOCK?  Not sure now) with RODDY McDOWELL in which he used a clipped British accent.  His character was cleverly devious.  His accent was so good, I wondered if he WAS actually British.  He even sounded more so than McDowell!

 

Sepiatone

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I was a big fan of "77 Sunset Strip", and usually preferred the episodes that featured Zimbalist.  Something about his look and demeanor( plus, of course, the NAME) that appealed to me more.  Confidence without swagger, intelligence without arrogance, dry sense of humor.  It's hard to find those qualities in many TV cop/detective characters today.

 

He did an episode of "Twilight Zone"( or was it HITCHCOCK?  Not sure now) with RODDY McDOWELL in which he used a clipped British accent.  His character was cleverly devious.  His accent was so good, I wondered if he WAS actually British.  He even sounded more so than McDowell!

 

Sepiatone

Oh, you mean Roddy McDowall. :D

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Roger Smith (who for one year was Mister Roberts on tv) married Ann Margret.

My mistake was understandable (at least to me). I confused Roger Vadim (who WAS married to Jane Fonda) with Roger Smith. At least I didn't confuse him with Roger Maris or Roger Wilco.

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:( A few years back I discovered him doing voice overs for Trinity Broadcasting Network then doing readings of his favorite Bible Passages with children.  His voice was still as deep and smooth as ever and he looked remarkable for a man his age.  I always thought of him as one of the class acts in the acting profession and this seems to have been true. My condolences to Stephanie and the rest of the family. 

 

 

Here is the obit:

LOS ANGELES –  Efrem Zimbalist Jr., the son of famous musical parents who established his own lasting celebrity in two of television's most popular series, "77 Sunset Strip" and "The F.B.I.," died Friday at age 95.

Zimbalist died at his Solvang home in California's bucolic horse country, said family friend Judith Moose, who released a statement from his children Stephanie Zimbalist and Efrem Zimbalist III.

 

"We are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., today at his Solvang ranch," the statement read. "He actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf and visiting with close friends."

 

Zimbalist's stunning good looks and cool, deductive manner made him the ideal star as the hip private detective ferreting out Hollywood miscreants in "77 Sunset Strip," which aired from 1958 to 1964. As soon as that show ended he segued seamlessly into "The F.B.I." which aired from 1965 to 1974.

 

At the end of each episode of the latter show, after Zimbalist and his fellow G-men had captured that week's mobsters, subversives, bank robbers or spies, the series would post photos from the FBI's real-life most-wanted list. Some of those pictures led to arrests, which helped give the show the complete seal of approval of the agency's real-life director, J. Edgar Hoover.

 

The son of violin virtuoso Efrem Zimbalist and acclaimed opera singer Alma Gluck, young Efrem initially appeared headed for a musical career. He studied violin for seven years under the tutelage of Jascha Heifetz's father, but eventually developed more interest in theater.

 

He became an actor and "77 Sunset Strip" made him a star.

 

His daughter Stephanie also took up acting -- and small-screen detective work, in the hit 1980s TV series "Remington Steele." Her father had a recurring role in that show as a con man.

 

After serving in World War II, Zimbalist made his stage debut in "The Rugged Path," starring Spencer Tracy, and appeared in other plays and a soap opera before being called to Hollywood. Warner Bros. signed him to a contract and cast him in minor film roles.

 

He also had a recurring role in the hit 1950s Western series "Maverick," playing con man Dandy Jim Buckley.

 

Then in 1958 "77 Sunset Strip" debuted, starring Zimbalist as a cultured former O.S.S. officer and language expert whose partner was Roger Smith, an Ivy League Ph.D.

 

The pair operated out of an office in the center of Hollywood's Sunset Strip where, aided by their sometime helper, Kookie, a jive-talking beatnik type who doubled as a parking lot attendant, they tracked down miscreants.

 

Kookie's character, played by Edd Byrnes, helped draw young viewers to the show, and his constant hair combing created the national catchphrase, "Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb."

 

The program brought Zimbalist an Emmy nomination in 1959, but after a few seasons he tired of the long hours and what he believed were the bad scripts.

"A job like this should pay off in one of two ways: satisfaction or money. The money is not great, and there is no satisfaction," he said.

 

When the show faltered in 1963, Jack Webb of "Dragnet" fame was hired for an overhaul. He fired the cast except for Zimbalist, whom he made a world-traveling investigator. The repair work failed, and the series ended the following year.

 

Zimbalist had better luck with "The F.B.I.," which endured for a decade as one of TV's most popular shows.

Perceiving that the series could provide the real FBI with an important P.R. boost, Hoover opened the bureau's files to the show's producers and even allowed background shots to be filmed in real FBI offices.

 

"He never came on the set, but I knew him," Zimbalist said. "A charming man, extremely Virginia formal and an extraordinary command of the language."

 

In 2009 the FBI honored Zimbalist with his own special agent's badge, making him an honorary G-man in recognition of the contributions his show and his character, Inspector Lewis Erskine, made to the agency's reputation.

 

"We could not have asked for a better character, or a better man, to play his role," FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said at the time.

 

During summer breaks between the two series, Warner Bros. cast Zimbalist in several feature films, including "Too Much Too Soon," "Home Before Dark," "The Crowded Sky," "The Chapman Report" and "Wait Until Dark." In the latter, he played the husband of Audrey Hepburn, a blind woman terrorized by thugs in a truly frightening film.

 

Zimbalist also appeared in "By Love Possessed," "Airport 1975," "Terror Out of the Sky" and "Hot Shots."

But he would always be best known as a TV star, ironic for an actor who told The Associated Press in 1993 that when Warner Bros. hired him he had no interest in doing television.

 

"They showed me in my contract where it said I had to," he recalled.

"I ended up with my life slanted toward television and I just accept that," he said. "I think you play the hand the way it's dealt, that's all."

 

In the 1990s, Zimbalist recorded the voice of Alfred the butler in the cartoon version of the "Batman" TV series. That role, he said, "has made me an idol in my little grandchildren's eyes."

 

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. was born in New York City on Nov. 30, 1918.

His mother, reasoning that living amid the musical elite was not the best upbringing for a boy, sent him to boarding schools where he could be toughened by others his age. But young Efrem was bashful and withdrawn in school. His only outlet was acting in campus plays.

 

"I walked onstage in a play at prep school, and with childish naivetΘ, told myself, `Wow, I'm an actor!"' he once recalled.

 

He was kicked out of Yale after two years over dismal grades, which he blamed on a playboy attitude.

Afraid to go home, he stayed with a friend in New York City for three months, working as a page at NBC headquarters, where he was dazzled by the famous radio stars. Unable to break into radio as an actor, he studied at the famed Neighborhood Playhouse.

 

During World War II he served in the infantry, receiving a Purple Heart for a shrapnel wound in his leg.

 

In 1945, Zimbalist married Emily McNair and they had a daughter, Nancy, and son, Efrem III.

After his wife died in 1950 he gave up acting for a time to teach at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia, where his father was an artist in residence. He returned to Hollywood five years later, marrying Loranda Stephanie Spalding in 1956, and she gave birth to their daughter Stephanie.

 

Zimbalist was preceded in death by his second wife and by his daughter Nancy.

 

In addition to his son and other daughter, Stephanie, he is survived by four grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

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But I would have sworn he did a cameo on Two and Half Men around 2007-2008 with Holland Taylor, playing one her many quickie bed partners in the series, yet the IMDB didn't list it.

 

 

Just a guess here Char, but I think you might be referring to a cameo done by another of TV's Private Eyes from the past...Mike Connors.

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