95 (passed away May. 2nd, 2014)
Nov. 30th, 1918
New York City, New York, USA
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
Hardly surprising that the son of concert violinist Efrem Zimbalist Sr. and opera singer Alma Gluck would desire a performing career of some kind. Born in New York City in 1918 and surrounded by people of wealth and privilege throughout his childhood, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. trained at both the Yale School of Drama and the Neighborhood Playhouse, and was an NBC radio page at the onset. Following war service in which he earned a Purple Heart, director and friend of the family Garson Kanin' gave the aspiring actor his first professional role in his Broadway production of "The Rugged Path". With his dark, friendly, clean-scrubbed good looks and a deep, rich voice that could cut butter, Zimbalist found little trouble finding work. He continued with the American Repertory Theatre performing in such classics as "Henry VIII" and "Androcles and the Lion" while appearing opposite the legendary Eva Le Gallienne in "Hedda Gabler". Zimbalist then tried his hand as a stage producer, successfully bringing opera to Broadway audiences for the first time with memorable presentations of "The Medium" and "The Telephone". As producer of Gian Carlo Menotti's "The Consul", he won the New York Drama Critic's Award and the Pulitzer Prize for best musical in 1950. An auspicious film debut opposite 'Edward G. Robinson in House of Strangers brought little career momentum due to the untimely death of his wife Emily to cancer in 1950. Making an abrupt decision to abandon acting, he served as assistant director/researcher at the Curtis School of Music for his father and buried himself with studies and music composition. In 1954 he returned to acting and copped a daytime television soap lead. Famed director Joshua Logan was instrumental in helping Zimbalist secure a Warner Bros. contract. Despite forthright second leads in decent films such as Band of Angels. Too Much, Too Soon, A Fever in the Blood and Wait Until Dark, it was television that made the better use of his refined acting style. His roles as smooth private investigator Stu Bailey on "77 Sunset Strip" and dogged inspector Lewis Erskine on "The F.B.I." would be his ultimate claim to fame. A perfect gentleman on and off camera, Zimbalist's severest critics tend to deem his performances bland and undernourished. Managing to override such criticisms, he maintained a sturdy career for nearly six decades. In 1991, he made fun of his all-serious reputation and pulled off a Leslie Nielsen-like role in the comedy parody Hot Shots!. In addition to theater projects over the years, he has made fine use of his mellifluous baritone performing narrations and cartoon voice-overs. In 2003, he completed his memoirs, entitled "My Dinner of Herbs". The father of three and grandfather of four, he currently lives in Santa Barbara, California with longtime second wife Stephanie. Their daughter, also named Stephanie (Stephanie Zimbalist), is the well-known actress who appeared with Pierce Brosnan in the "Remington Steele" television series.
- Children from his marriage to Emily McNair - Nancy Zimbalist and Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III (by McNair, CEO Active Interest Media).
- Zimbalist was an early practitioner and proponent of Transcendental Meditation, as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, prior to his conversion to Christianity.
- In 1935, after accompanying his father on a concert tour of the Soviet Union, Zimbalist Jr. was enrolled by his parents in a boarding school in Kiev, while they visited western Europe. Expected to learn piano in a class of wunderkinds, he was rather handicapped, for the classes were taught in Ukrainian - - a language he did not know. He eventually ran off to Moscow, where his elder sister had been lodged with a family. After spending a bad winter in Moscow (they only had their summer clothing) he and his sister hid the last of their money in the bottom of a cold-cream jar to prevent confiscation by Russian border officials, and escaped by train to Paris.
- Father of 'Stephanie Zimbalist' (qv).
- Was badly wounded during his World War II service, at Huertgen Forest.
- Son of violinist 'Efrem Zimbalist Sr.' (qv) and opera singer Alma Gluck.
- (8 June 2009) Named an honorary FBI agent and presented an FBI badge by Director 'Louis Freeh' (qv).
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