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Old 03-05-14, 11:28   #1
 
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Unhappy F.B.I.' Actor Efrem Zimbalist Dies in California




Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who portrayed the indefatigable Inspector Lewis Erskine on the long-running U.S. television series "The F.B.I.", died on Friday at the age of 95, according to media reports.

Zimbalist died at his home in Solvang, California, his daughter, actress Stephanie Zimbalist, and his son Efrem Zimbalist III, said in a statement, Hollywood trade magazine Variety and other media reported.

"A devout Christian, he actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf, and visiting with close friends," the statement said, according to Variety.

A spokesman for the family could not be immediately reached for comment.

From the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, Zimbalist was one of the top stars on U.S. television, playing a private detective on the ABC series "77 Sunset Strip" from 1958 to 1964 before his stint on "The F.B.I." on the same network from 1965 to 1974.

Zimbalist, the son of opera singer Alma Gluck and concert violinist Efrem Zimbalist Sr., also appeared in about 20 movies - usually in supporting roles but sometimes as the leading man.

He was born on Nov. 30, 1918, in New York and saw U.S. Army combat duty during World War Two.

During its nine seasons on the air, "The F.B.I." dramatized the Federal Bureau of Investigation as its agents solved murders, kidnappings and bank heists. Its episodes - inspired by real cases - required FBI approval.

Zimbalist portrayed Erskine as an assiduous, dedicated investigator during an era when the FBI in real life was embroiled in America's tumult during the Vietnam War era.

The actor said the FBI's larger-than-life director J. Edgar Hoover was initially reluctant to give his permission for the series and "was not a lover of Hollywood." The two eventually met and had a steady correspondence.

In 2009, the FBI honored Zimbalist, at age 90, in a ceremony in Los Angeles in which agency Director Robert Mueller presented him with an honorary special agent badge.

Mueller said Zimbalist over the years helped the FBI by narrating recruitment commercials and taking part in fundraising events for children of agents killed in the line of duty.

"I'm a conservative Republican," Zimbalist told the Oklahoman newspaper in 2011. "And I wasn't a friend of the FBI just because I was in the show. My philosophy is the same. I was deeply aware of the sentiment against the bureau and against Hoover."

On "77 Sunset Strip," a show that was more carefree than "The F.B.I," Zimbalist played wisecracking private detective Stu Bailey, starring alongside Roger Smith and Edd Byrnes.

Zimbalist appeared occasionally with his daughter Stephanie Zimbalist on her 1980s TV series "Remington Steele" with Pierce Brosnan, and later did voice work for animated TV shows.

His supporting movie roles included parts in "House of Strangers" (1949) with Edward G. Robinson, "Band of Angels" (1957) with Clark Gable and Sidney Poitier, "Too Much, Too Soon" (1958) with Errol Flynn, "Airport 1975" (1974) with Charlton Heston and "Hot Shots!" (1991) with Charlie Sheen.

He was sometimes a leading man, as in "Harlow" in 1965 with Carol Lynley and "The Chapman Report" in 1962 with Jane Fonda
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Old 03-05-14, 21:13   #2
 
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Default Re: F.B.I.' Actor Efrem Zimbalist Dies in California

Efrem Zimbalist Jr., star of 'The FBI,' dead at 95


LOS ANGELES (AP) 3rd May 2014


— 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, the son of famous musicians who gained television stardom in the 1950s-60s hit "77 Sunset Strip" and later "The FBI,"
died Friday at his ranch in Solvang, Calif., at age 95. (AP Photo/Wally Fong, File)



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 naiveté, 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.
___
Biographical material in this story was written by The Associated Press' late Hollywood correspondent, Bob Thomas.




FILE - During an actual training session at the FBI Academy, TV star Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., right, perfects his pistol firing technique under
the watchful eyes of an unidentified FBI instructor, in this May 21, 1965 file photo taken in Quantico, Va.




RIP Efrem

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