Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

Born: November 30, 1918
Died: May 2, 2014 (at age 95)
Birthplace: New York City

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (November 30, 1918 - May 2, 2014) was an American actor known for his starring roles in the television series 77 Sunset Strip and The F.B.I. He is also known as recurring character "Dandy Jim Buckley" in the series Maverick and as the voice behind the character Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series and associated spin-offs. He also voiced Doctor Octopus from the 1990s Spider-Man animated series, and Justin Hammer from the second season of 1994 Iron Man animated series.

Early years

Zimbalist was born in New York City, the son of Jewish parents. His parents were Russian-born violinist Efrem Zimbalist, Sr. and Romanian-born operatic soprano Alma Gluck. His stepmother was Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist, the founder of the Curtis Institute of Music. He attended Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts.

Zimbalist attended Yale University in the late 1930s, worked as a page for NBC radio in New York, and served in the United States Army for five years during World War II, where he became friends with Garson Kanin. He was awarded the Purple Heart for a leg wound received during the battle of Hürtgen Forest.


Early career

Following the war, Zimbalist returned to New York and made his Broadway acting debut in The Rugged Path, starring Spencer Tracy. This led to a stage career as both an actor and producer. His producing successes included bringing three Gian Carlo Menotti operas to Broadway, one of which, The Consul, won the Pulitzer Prize for music in 1950.

In 1954-1955 he co-starred in his first television series, Concerning Miss Marlowe.

Warner Bros. star

In 1956, Zimbalist was put under contract by Warner Bros. and moved to Hollywood. Zimbalist's first recurring role in a Warner Bros. Television series was as roguish gambler "Dandy Jim Buckley" on Maverick, opposite James Garner in 1957, and making five appearances as the character. In 1958, Zimbalist played the co-lead Stuart "Stu" Bailey in 77 Sunset Strip, a popular detective series running until 1964. During this period, he made several concurrent appearances in other Warner Bros. television shows, such as Hawaiian Eye, The Alaskans, and Bronco. He also starred as the lead in several feature films for Warners, such as Bombers B-52, The Deep Six, A Fever in the Blood, and The Chapman Report. Zimbalist was in such demand that he was given leave by Jack Warner due to exhaustion from his busy schedule.

Jack Warner lent him to Columbia Pictures for By Love Possessed in exchange for adding several years to his Warners' contract, but refused to let him make BUtterfield 8 for MGM.

In 1959, he was awarded the Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer - Male".

The F.B.I. television series

Zimbalist was most widely known for his starring role as Inspector Lewis Erskine in the Quinn Martin television production The F.B.I., which premiered on September 19, 1965 and ended with its final episode on September 8, 1974. Zimbalist was generous in his praise of producer Martin and of his own experience starring in the show. Those who worked with him on the show were equally admiring of the star's professionalism and likable personality.

Zimbalist maintained a strong personal relationship with J. Edgar Hoover, who requested technical accuracy for the show and that agents be portrayed in the best possible light. Actors who played F.B.I. employees were required by Hoover to undergo a background check. Zimbalist passed his background check with ease. He subsequently spent a week in Washington, D.C., where he was interviewed by Hoover, and at the F.B.I. academy in Quantico, Virginia. Hoover and Zimbalist remained mutual admirers for the rest of Hoover's life. Hoover later held Zimbalist up as an image role model for F.B.I. employees to emulate in their personal appearance.

The Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation honored the character of Lewis Erskine in 1985 with a set of retired credentials. On June 8, 2009 FBI Director Robert Mueller presented Zimbalist with a plaque of an honorary special agent for his work on the television series The F.B.I., on which he worked in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and his friend J. Edgar Hoover. The run of the show on ABC was followed in the 1980s by a revival show, Today's FBI starring Mike Connors.

Other television work

After 77 Sunset Strip, he appeared in other series, including CBS's short-lived The Reporter starring Harry Guardino as journalist Danny Taylor of the fictitious New York Globe. He also appeared in leading and supporting roles in several feature films, including Harlow, A Fever in the Blood (a film about a ruthless politician), Wait Until Dark, and Airport 1975.

Zimbalist had a recurring role as Daniel Chalmers, a white-collar con man, on his daughter Stephanie Zimbalist's 1980s television detective series Remington Steele, and in the television dramatic series Hotel.

In 1990, he played the father of Zorro in the Christian Broadcasting Network's remake, The New Zorro. Zimbalist relinquished the role after the program's first season due to the filming at studios outside Madrid, Spain, and the role subsequently went to Henry Darrow. He had a small recurring role in the 1990s hit science fiction television series Babylon 5 as William Edgars.

Also in the 1990s, Zimbalist played Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series as well as in Superman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, Justice League, Static Shock, and the animated films Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, and villain Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. He appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and as himself in the 1998 Smithsonian Institution production of Gemstones of America. He performed as the narrator in "Good Morning, America" by Elinor Remick Warren—Cambria CD #1042 (1993).

Zimbalist wrote an autobiography, My Dinner of Herbs, published by Limelight Editions, New York.

In 2008, he appeared in the short film The Delivery, where he played a professor who helps a young girl in her struggles for literacy. The film won first place in fantasy at the Dragon*Con Film Festival and was an official selection at the Los Angeles International Children's Festival and the Reel Women International Film Festival in 2009.

Personal life and religion

Efrem Zimbalist married his first wife, Emily Munroe McNair, in 1945. She died of cancer five years later in 1950. Zimbalist's second marriage was to Loranda Stephanie Spaulding in 1956. She died of lung cancer on February 5, 2007, at the age of 73. Zimbalist was the father of Efrem Zimbalist III and Nancy Zimbalist by Emily McNair, and actress Stephanie Zimbalist by Stephanie Spaulding.

Zimbalist considered himself to be a man of abiding faith and was involved in a number of Christian media productions. His parents, Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist, Sr., were assimilated non-practicing Jews who rejected their Jewish heritage. Efrem Sr. was raised in a non-practicing household and later stated, "As far as I am concerned, there has been no Jew in the family for sixty-five years." Alma and Efrem Sr. had their children baptized Christians in the Episcopal Church and raised them in that church. Efrem Jr. stated that he was taken to church every Sunday and attended St. Paul's School, an Episcopal boarding school in New Hampshire. He also attended church every Sunday with his first wife, and it was his faith which allowed him peace when she succumbed to cancer.

A spiritual pilgrim, Zimbalist was an early practitioner and proponent of Transcendental Meditation, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. He described the Maharishi Yogi as a "fascinating character", but found that his nine-year association with the meditation method "... was a total waste of energy for me." He returned to the Episcopal Church for a time. In the late 1970s, Zimbalist was drawn to the Charismatic Christianity first to Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker's PTL Club and later, after serving for several years, on PTL's board, to its principal televangelistic successor the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).< Efrem's face and voice have appeared on scores of TBN announcements, including the station identification at the top of every hour. In a five-minute segment called "The Word" which aired on TBN at 25 after the hour, Zimbalist read through the entire Bible, verse by verse; later these segments appeared in interludes and station breaks on TBN. He told a reporter in 1989, "for a while I did go overboard in my association with a fundamentalist group", but never made a verbal association with any ministry. As of January 2016, TBN still uses his spots where he reads scripture, as well as his voice on TBN network identifications. Eventually, he resumed active participation in the Episcopal Church, feeling comfortable with that denominational style.

In 1963 and 1964, Zimbalist joined fellow actors William Lundigan, Chill Wills, and Walter Brennan in making appearances on behalf of U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater, the Republican candidate, in his election campaign against U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson.


Zimbalist died on May 2, 2014 from natural causes at the age of 95. His daughter Stephanie announced the news, saying, "He was 95 years old, 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." His interment was at Town Hill Cemetery in New Hartford, Connecticut, near his parents.



Year Title Role Notes Refs
1949 House of Strangers Tony Monetti Film noir directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
1957 Band of Angels Lt. Ethan Sears Romantic drama film directed by Raoul Walsh.
Bombers B-52 Colonel Jim Herlihy CinemaScope film directed by Gordon Douglas.
1958 The Deep Six Lt. Blanchard World War II drama film directed by Rudolph Maté, loosely based on a novel of the same name by Martin Dibner.
Too Much, Too Soon Vincent Bryant Biographical film directed by Art Napoleon.
Home Before Dark Jacob 'Jake' Diamond Drama film directed and produced by Mervyn LeRoy.
Violent Road George Lawrence Remake of The Wages of Fear and directed by Howard W. Koch.
1960 The Crowded Sky Dale Heath Drama film directed by Joseph Pevney.
1961 By Love Possessed Arthur Winner Drama film directed by John Sturges.
Fever in the Blood, AA Fever in the Blood Judge Leland Hoffman Drama film directed by Vincent Sherman.
1962 Chapman Report, TheThe Chapman Report Paul Radford Drama film directed by George Cukor.
1965 Harlow William Mansfield Fictionalized drama based on the life of film star Jean Harlow directed by Alex Segal.
Reward, TheThe Reward Frank Bryant Western film directed by Serge Bourguignon.
1967 Wait Until Dark Sam Hendrix Psychological thriller film directed by Terence Young.
1974 Airport 1975 Captain Stacy Air disaster film and the first sequel to the successful 1970 film Airport and directed by Jack Smight.
1982 Avenging, TheThe Avenging Jacob Anderson Drama film written and directed by Lyman Dayton.
1991 Hot Shots! Wilson Comedy spoof film of Top Gun directed and co-written by Jim Abrahams.
1993 Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul Narrator Documentary film directed and written by Gregory Orr.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Alfred Pennyworth
  • Animated superhero mystery film directed by Eric Radomski and Bruce Timm(co-written).
  • Also known as Batman: The Animated Movie
1995 Street Corner Kids: The Sequel, TheThe Street Corner Kids: The Sequel Marty Family film directed and written by Margaret Raphael.
1998 Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero Alfred Pennyworth Direct-to-video superhero animated feature film directed, co-written, and co-produced by Boyd Kirkland.
1999 The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man Dr. Octopus Animated short film directed and co-written by Scott Trowbridge.
2003 Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman Alfred Pennyworth Direct-to-video animated film directed by Curt Geda.
2008 Delivery, TheThe Delivery Dr. Engel Short film directed and written by Gabrielle DeCuir.


Year Title Role Notes Refs
1946 Mr. and Mrs. North Star Made-for-TV-Movie
1954-1955 Concerning Miss Marlowe Jim Gavin Contract role
1956 Star Tonight Guest Episode: "The Long View" (S 2:Ep 42)
The United States Steel Hour Sean O'Neill Episode "Stopover at Sublimity" (S 3:Ep 30)
1957 Conflict Stuart Bailey Episodes:
  • "Anything For Money" (S 1:Ep 16)
  • "Execution Night" (S 1:Ep 19)
1957-1958 Maverick Dandy Jim Buckley Recurring
1958 Girl on the Run Stuart Bailey Made-for-TV-Movie (Pilot for TV series 77 Sunset Strip) airing on ABC and directed by Richard L. Bare.
Sugarfoot Kerrigan the Great Episode: "The Wizard" (S 2: Ep 3)
1958-1964 77 Sunset Strip Stuart Bailey Contract role; 163 episodes
1959-1962 Hawaiian Eye Stuart Bailey Recurring
1960 Alaskans, TheThe Alaskans John Conrad Episode: "The Trial of Reno McKee" (S 1: Ep 14)
1961 Person to Person Himself Episode:"August 11, 1961" (S 8:Ep 19)
Bronco Edwin Booth Episode: "The Prince of Darkness" (S 4: Ep 2)
What About Linda? Himself March of Dimes fund raising program
1962 Here's Hollywood Himself November 2, 1962
1964 The Hollywood Palace Himself Episode: "Host: Efrem Zimbalist Jr." (S 1: Ep 9)
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Paul Radford Episode: "The Sojourner" (S 1: Ep 26)
Alfred Hitchcock Hour, TheThe Alfred Hitchcock Hour Stranger Eepisode: "See the Monkey Dance" (S 3: Ep 5)
Reporter, TheThe Reporter Charles Durwood Episode: "Super-Star" (S 1: Ep 9)
1965 Rawhide Jeff McKeever Episode: "The Diehard" (S 7: Ep 25)
Password All-Stars Himself Episode: "Angie Dickinson vs. Efrem Zimbalist Jr."
1965-1974 F.B.I., TheThe F.B.I. Inspector Lewis Erskine Contract role; 241 episodes
1967 Cosa Nostra, Arch Enemy of the F.B.I. Inspector Lewis Erskine (archive footage) Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Don Medford.
Insight Byron Episode: "Stranger In My Shoes" (S 7:Ep 37)
1969 Jim Episode: "The Coffee House" (S 9: Ep 38)
1970 Bergman Episode: "The Day God Died" (S 10: Ep 25)
Don Ford Episode: "He Lived With Us, Ate With Us, What Else, Dear?" (S 10: Ep 33)
Charles de Foucauld Episode: "The Hermit" (S 10: Ep 43)
1972 Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, TheThe Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson Himself February 16, 1972
1974 Insight Guest Episode: "When You See Arcturus" (S 14: Ep 21)
1975 Who Is the Black Dahlia? Sgt. Harry Hansen Made-for-TV-Movie
1978 Family Upside Down, AA Family Upside Down Mike Long Made-for-TV-Movie
Terror Out of the Sky David Martin Made-for-TV-Movie
30th Primetime Emmy Awards Himself Presenter
1979 Best Place to Be, TheThe Best Place to Be Bill Reardan Made-for-TV-Movie
Gathering, Part II, TheThe Gathering, Part II Victor Wainwright Made-for-TV-Movie
Insight God Episode: "Checkmate" (S 20: Ep 11)
Guest Episode: "A Family of Winners" (S 20: Ep 12)
1980 Scruples Ellis Ikehorn Miniseries
Anita Bryant Spectacular, TheThe Anita Bryant Spectacular Himself
1982 Beyond Witch Mountain Aristotle Bolt Made-for-TV-Movie
Family in Blue Marty Malone Made-for-TV-Movie
1983 Insight Guest Episode: "The Hit Man" (S 24: Ep 5)
Fantasy Island Mr. Baldwin Episode: "The Butler's Affair/Roarke's Sacrifice" (S 7: Ep 5)
Charley's Aunt Col. Francis Chesney Made-for-TV-Movie
Baby Sister Tom Burroughs Made-for-TV-Movie
Shooting Stars Robert Cluso Made-for-TV-Movie
1983-87 Remington Steele Daniel Chalmers Recurring
1984 Love Boat, TheThe Love Boat Dan Whitman Episode: "Polly's Poker Palace, Parts 1 and 2" (S 7: Ep 19 & S 7: Ep 20)
Hardcastle and McCormick Emmett Parnell Eepisode: "The Georgia Street Motors" (S 1:Ep 18)
Partners in Crime Grant Latham Episode: "Murder in the Museum" (S 1: Ep 19)
Hotel Alexander Heath Episode: "Flesh and Blood" (S 2: Ep 2)
Cover Up E.G. Dawson Episode: "Writer's Block" (S 1: Ep 9)
You Are the Jury Narrator Episode: "The Case of the People of Florida v Joseph Lamdrum"
1985 Finder of Lost Loves Judge Alex Hale Episode: "Mister Wonderful" (S 1: Ep 19)
1986 38th Primetime Emmy Awards Himself Presenter: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special
You Are the Jury Narrator Episode: "The State of Arizona v Dr. Evan Blake"
1986-88 Hotel Charles Cabot Recurring
1988 Hunter Clarence Hyland Episode: "Murder He Wrote" (S 4: Ep 21)
Murder, She Wrote Gen. Havermeyer Episode: "The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel" (S 5: Ep 7)
1990 Zorro Don Alejandro de la Vega Contract role; 25 episodes
Who's the Boss? Robert Robinson Episode: "Operation Mona" (S 6: Ep 22)
Murder, She Wrote Richard Thompson Grant Episode: "Hannigan's Wake" (S 7: Ep 4)
1991 Hot Shots: The Making of an Important Movie Himself
1992 Murder, She Wrote Adam Quatrain Episode: "Sugar, Spice, Malice and Vice" (S 9: Ep 7)
1992-1993 Legend of Prince Valiant, TheThe Legend of Prince Valiant King Arthur (voice) Contract role; 53 episodes
1992-1995 Batman: The Animated Series Alfred Contract role; 57 episodes
1993 Trade Winds Christof Philips Miniseries
1994 Vicki! Himself
Burke's Law Sam Gallagher Episode: "Who Killed the Legal Eagle?" (S 1: Ep 9)
Heaven Help Us Lexy's Dad Episode: "A Little Left of Heaven (Pilot) (S 1:Ep 1)
Nanny, TheThe Nanny Theodore Timmons Episode: "Material Fran" (S 2: Ep 4
1995 Biker Mice from Mars King Arthur Episode: "Knights of the Round Table, Parts 1 and 2" (S 3: Ep 1 & S 3: Ep 2)
One West Waikiki Walter Mansfield Episode: "Flowers of Evil" (S 2: Ep 1)
Gargoyles Mace Malone Episode: "Revelations" (S 2: Ep 16)
Iron Man Justin Hammer Recurring
1995-1997 Spider-Man Dr. Octopus/Dr. Otto Octavius Recurring
1996 Picket Fences Hal Klosterman Episode: "Forget Selma" (S 4: Ep 18)
Mighty Ducks Dr. Denton P. Hookerman Episode: "Zap Attack" (S 1: Ep 4)
1997 Babylon 5 William Edgars Recurring
Visitor, TheThe Visitor Wayland Scott Episode: "Miracles" (S 1: Ep 11)
Superman: The Animated Series Alfred Pennyworth Episode: "World's Finest, part 3" (S 2: Ep 18)
1997-1998 New Batman Adventures, TheThe New Batman Adventures Alfred Pennyworth Recurring
1998 Gemstones of America Himself Host
The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest Alfred Pennyworth Animated Made-for-TV-Movie directed by Toshihiko Masuda.
1999 Year to Remember, AA Year to Remember Himself Host
2001 First Day, TheThe First Day Benjamin Hart Made-for-TV-Movie
2003 Static Shock Alfred Pennyworth Episode: "Hard as Nails" (S 3: Ep 1)
Justice League Alfred Pennyworth Episode: "Hereafter, Part 1" (S 2: Ep 19)
Batman: Behind the Mystery Himself
2004 TVLand Moguls Himself
Justice League Alfred Pennyworth Episodes:
  • Starcrossed, Part 2" (S 2: Ep 25)
  • Starcrossed, Part 3" (S 2: Ep 26)
2007 Brothers Warner, TheThe Brothers Warner Himself Historical film directed by Cass Warner (credited as Cass Warner Sperling).

Video games

Year Title Role Notes Refs
1993 Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers Wolfgang Video game
2000 Spider-Man Dr. Octopus Video game
2001 Batman: Vengeance Alfred Pennyworth Video game


Year Title Role Notes Refs
1983 Tempest, TheThe Tempest Prospero Directed by William Woodman.


Opening date Closing date Title Role Theatre Refs
Nov 10, 1945 Jan 19, 1946 The Rugged Path Gil Hartnick Plymouth
Nov 6, 1946 Feb 21, 1947 King Henry VIII Duke of Suffolk International Theatre
Nov 8, 1946 Feb 15, 1947 What Every Woman Knows A Butler, Ensemble International Theatre
Dec 19, 1946 Feb 22, 1947 A Pound on Demand
Androcles and the Lion
Secutor International Theatre
Feb 27, 1947 Mar 15, 1947 Yellow Jack Aristides Agramonte International Theatre
May 1, 1947 Nov 1, 1947 The Telephone
The Medium
(producer) Ethel Barrymore Theatre
Feb 24, 1948 Mar 6, 1948 Hedda Gabler Eilert Lovborg Cort Theatre
Dec 7, 1948 Jan 9, 1949 The Telephone (producer) City Center
Dec 7, 1948 Jan 9, 1949 The Medium (producer) City Center
Mar 15, 1950 Nov 4, 1950 The Consul (producer) Ethel Barrymore Theatre
Jan 17, 1956 Aug 11, 1956 Fallen Angels Maurice Duclos Playhouse
Oct 16, 2004 Nov 7, 2004 Night of the Iguana Nonno Rubicon Theatre Company
Apr 26, 2007 May 20, 2007 Hamlet The Player King Rubicon Theatre Company

[ Source: Wikipedia ]

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