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Overview for Martin Balsam
Martin Balsam

Martin Balsam



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Also Known As: Martin Henry Balsam Died: February 13, 1996
Born: November 4, 1919 Cause of Death: stroke
Birth Place: Bronx, New York, USA Profession: Cast ... actor comedian


The heavyset, balding Balsam was a familiar face as a character actor since his career began on Broadway in the early 1940s. After a hiatus to serve in the US Army during WWII, he found work on stage in a number of Broadway productions including "Lamp at Midnight," "Macbeth" and "The Closing Door" and on TV in such varied shows as "Philco Television Playhouse" (NBC), "The Goldbergs" (CBS) and "Captain Video" (ABC). In the 50s and 60s, Balsam continued to appear on stage including appearances on Broadway in two of Tennessee Williams' plays: with Maureen Stapleton and Eli Wallach in "The Rose Tattoo" (1951) and "Camino Real" (1952) as well as a Tony Award-winning turn as three characters in Robert Anderson's comic one-acts "You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running" (1967). Other credits include Bernie Dodd in Clifford Odets' "The Country Girl" (in Easthampton, New York, 1954), Hickey in Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh" (in Los Angeles, 1961) and Willie Loman in Arthur Miller's "Death of a Salesman" (in Philadelphia, 1974).

On TV, Balsam was a constant presence, making numerous guest appearances on series from "Father Knows Best" to "The Untouchables" to "The Six Million Dollar Man." His TV-movies include supporting Frank Sinatra in "Contract on Cherry Street" (NBC, 1977), appearing opposite powerhouse actresses ranging from Jean Stapleton ("Aunt Mary" CBS, 1979) to Ellen Burstyn ("The People vs. Jean Harris" NBC, 1981) to Vanessa Redgrave ("Second Serve" CBS, 1986). On "Archie Bunker's Place" (CBS, 1979-81), he portrayed Bunker's liberal Jewish business partner Murray Klein.

Balsam entered films with Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront" (1954) and was particularly memorable as the jury foreman in Sidney Lumet's "Twelve Angry Men" (1957), as the doomed private dick Arbogast in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" (1960), as the police chief in "Cape Fear" (1962) and as the studio chief in Edward Dmytryk's "The Carpetbaggers" (1964). He received the 1965 Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as Jason Robards Jr.'s agent brother in "A Thousand Clowns." Additional credits include Mike Nichols' "Catch 22" (1970), Lumet's "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974) and Alan J Pakula's "All the President's Men" (1976). Balsam appeared as a judge in Martin Scorsese's remake of "Cape Fear" (1991) and made his final screen appearance as a detective in "The Silence of the Hams" (1994). Balsam died from a stroke in Rome, Italy in February 1996.

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