|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.|
Birthplace: New York City
Location of death: Solvang, CA
Cause of death: unspecified
Religion: Born-Again Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: The F.B.I.
Military service: US Army (1941-46)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. was a TV actor, the star of 77 Sunset Strip and The FBI. His parents were among the most famous musicians of their time. His father, Efrem Zimbalist, was a concert violinist who had been a child prodigy and headed the Curtis Institute of Music. His mother, Alma Gluck, was a renowned opera singer whose rendition of "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny" was the first recording to sell over a million copies. Gluck spoke publicly against American involvement in World War I, so she may have had an FBI file herself.
Zimbalist was wild in his youth, expelled from Yale -- twice -- for what he described as his "playboy spirit". His time in the Army during World War II left him with a Purple Heart and a much more serious demeanor. By the mid-1940s he was a successful Broadway actor, and he married Emily McNair, his co-star from a 1948 production of Hedda Gabler. He made his film debut as Edward G. Robinson's son in House of Strangers in 1950, but his wife was diagnosed with cancer during filming, and died that same year. In mourning Zimbalist walked away from show business, and for two years he worked as an administrator at the Curtis Institute.
When he returned to acting, he took a small role in the daytime soap opera Concerning Miss Marlowe. He eventually became a supporting actor at Warner Bros., and not incidentally a tennis buddy of studio mogul Jack L. Warner. Both of Zimbalist's signature series came from Warner Bros.
From 1958 to 1964, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. played the charming, Ivy League educated private detective Stuart Bailey on 77 Sunset Strip. The show is remembered for its jazzy, hip-for-the-time atmosphere, and for TV's first Fonzie-esque surprise star, Edd Byrnes, as Kookie, the parking lot attendant who called everyone "Daddy-O". The character of Stu Bailey came from the hardboiled 1946 novel The Double Take by Roy Huggins (filmed in 1948 as I Love Trouble with Franchot Tone as Bailey) but the TV series was decidedly more softboiled.
While filming 77 Sunset Strip, Zimbalist occasionally strolled across the Warners lot to play Bailey in several episodes of Hawaiian Eye with Robert Conrad, and to film a recurring role as Dandy Jim Buckley on Maverick with James Garner.
From 1965 to 1974, he played straight-laced Inspector Lewis Erskine on the grim police procedural The F.B.I.. The program was made with the full cooperation of the real FBI, and in the first few seasons J. Edgar Hoover personally pre-approved each script, so it was essentially an advertisement for the Bureau. There was never an FBI agent on the take, and never any doubt that the bad guy would be caught toward the end of each one-hour episode. All the good guys drove shiny new Fords, because Ford was the series sponsor, and at the end of an episode Zimbalist would sometimes step out of character and show the camera pictures of wanted criminals, asking à la John Walsh for the audience's help in apprehending them.
In other memorable roles, Zimbalist played blind Audrey Hepburn's husband in the thriller Wait Until Dark, and he played the pilot who was blinded mid-flight in the disastrous Airport: 1975 with Charlton Heston. He starred with Lindsay Wagner and Barry Bostwick in the cheese standard-setting mini-series Scruples, played a smooth-talking con artist in several episodes of his daughter Stephanie Zimbalist's tongue-in-cheek detective show Remington Steele, and parodied his own wooden image in the slapstick Hot Shots with Charlie Sheen and Cary Elwes. He has also narrated numerous books on tape, including the Reader's Digest Word Power series, and he provided the voice of Alfred the butler in Batman cartoons from 1992-2003.
His family was of Jewish heritage, but Zimbalist was a born-again Christian. He said that his conversion came while watching Trinity Broadcasting Network, first for chuckles but eventually hearing the Lord's voice and becoming a believer. He later hosted a daily five-minute program on TBN, in which he read selected passages from the Bible. In his autobiography, My Dinner of Herbs, Zimbalist refused to "dish dirt" on Hollywood. He borrowed the book's title from Proverbs 15:17: "Better is a dinner of herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."
His half-sister, from his mother's first marriage, became a famous author under the pen name Marcia Davenport. Among her best-sellers, both The Valley of Decision and East Side, West Side were made into major motion pictures in the 1940s.
Father: Efrem Zimbalist (concert violinist, b. 1889, d. 1985)
Mother: Reba Feinsohn ("Alma Gluck", Metropolitan Opera singer, b. 1882, d. 1938)
Mother: Mary Louise Curtis Bok (stepmother, founder of Curtis Institute of Music, m. 1943)
Sister: Abigail Marcia Zimbalist Davenport (half-sister from Feinsohn's first marriage, novelist, b. 1903, d. 1996)
Sister: Marie Zimbalist (b. 1915)
Wife: Emily McNair (stage actress, m. 1945, d. 1950, cancer, one daughter, one son)
Daughter: Nancy Zimbalist (b. 9-Sep-1944, d. 17-Nov-2012 cancer)
Son: Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III (CEO of Active Interest Media)
Wife: Loranda Stephanie Spaulding (East Coast socialite, m. 1956, div. 1962, remarried 1962, one daughter)
Daughter: Stephanie Zimbalist (actress, b. 8-Oct-1956)
High School: St. Paul's School, Concord, NH
University: Yale University (expelled twice)
Administrator: Curtis School of Music
McCain-Palin Victory 2008
Hollywood Walk of Fame 7095 Hollywood Blvd
Expelled from School
Born-Again Christian from Judaism
Maverick Jim Buckley (1957-58)
77 Sunset Strip Stuart Bailey (1958-64)
The F.B.I. Inspector Lewis Erskine
Hotel Charles Cabot (1986)
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (19-Nov-2003) [VOICE]
Cab to Canada (29-Nov-1998)
The Batman/Superman Movie (18-Aug-1998) [VOICE]
Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (11-Feb-1998) [VOICE]
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (25-Dec-1993) [VOICE]
Hot Shots! (31-Jul-1991)
Charley's Aunt (6-Feb-1983)
Airport 1975 (18-Oct-1974) · Stacy
Wait Until Dark (26-Oct-1967) · Sam Hendrix
The Reward (15-Sep-1965)
The Chapman Report (5-Oct-1962) · Paul Radford
By Love Possessed (19-Jul-1961) · Arthur Winner
A Fever in the Blood (28-Jan-1961) · Judge Hoffman
The Crowded Sky (2-Sep-1960) · Dale Heath
Home Before Dark (16-Nov-1958) · Jake Diamond
Violent Road (10-May-1958) · George Lawrence
Too Much, Too Soon (17-Apr-1958) · Vincent Bryant
The Deep Six (15-Jan-1958) · Lt. Blanchard
Bombers B-52 (22-Nov-1957) · Col. Jim Herlihy
Band of Angels (3-Aug-1957)
House of Strangers (1-Jul-1949) · Tony Monetti
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