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Akim Tamiroff in the Netherlands in 1964
Akim Mikhailovich Tamiroff
October 29, 1899
|Died||September 17, 1972 (aged 72)|
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Tamara Shayne (1932–1972; his death)|
Akim Mikhailovich Tamiroff (Armenian: Ակիմ Թամիրով, Russian: Аким Михайлович Тамиров; birth name Hovakim Tamirian, Armenian: Հովակիմ Թամիրյան; 29 October 1899 – 17 September 1972) was an Armenian-American actor. He won the first Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and appeared in at least 80 American motion pictures in a career spanning thirty-seven years.
Tamiroff was born in Baku, Russian Empire, on the Caspian Sea, to an Armenian family. He trained at the Moscow Art Theatre drama school for nine years. He arrived in the U.S. for the first time, in January 1923 on a three-month tour with a troupe of actors. He returned in November and stayed until 1924. His final trip with his theatre group was in October 1927 when he decided to stay permanently. Tamiroff managed to develop a career in Hollywood despite his thick accent.
Tamiroff's film debut came in 1932 in an uncredited role in Okay, America!. He performed in several more uncredited roles until 1935, when he co-starred in The Lives of a Bengal Lancer. He also appeared in the lavish epic China Seas in 1935 with Clark Gable, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Rosalind Russell and Robert Benchley. The following year, he was cast in the titular role in The General Died at Dawn. He appeared in the 1937 musical High, Wide, and Handsome with Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott, and the 1938 proto-noir Dangerous to Know opposite Anna May Wong, frequently singled out as his best role.
In the following decade, he appeared in such films as The Buccaneer (1938) with Fredric March, The Great McGinty (1940), The Corsican Brothers (1941), Tortilla Flat (1942) with Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield, Five Graves to Cairo (1943) with Erich von Stroheim as Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Frank Borzage's His Butler's Sister (1943), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) with Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, for which he received another Oscar nomination, and Preston Sturges' The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944).
In later years, Tamiroff appeared in Ocean's 11 (1960) with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin's Rat Pack, Topkapi (1964) with Peter Ustinov and Simone Signoret, Alphaville (1965), and had a long collaboration with Orson Welles including Touch of Evil (1958) with Charlton Heston, Mr Arkadin (1955), The Trial (1962) and Welles' unfinished version of Don Quixote, in which he played Sancho Panza.
While Tamiroff may not be a household name now, his malapropistic performance as the boss in The Great McGinty is thought to have been the inspiration for the cartoon character Boris Badenov, the male half of the villainous husband-and-wife team Boris and Natasha on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. He was also spoofed in a 1969 episode of the TV show H.R. Pufnstuf entitled "The Stand-in" in which a frog named "Akim Toadanoff" directs a movie on Living Island.
Tamiroff's accepted birth year was 1899, although in at least two instances this appeared to be different. In his second trip to America in November 1923 his age is given as 27 and in the 1930 census as 32. He married fellow actress Tamara Shayne, with whom he performed nightclub acts, in February 1933 in Los Angeles. Yet, according to the above-mentioned 1930 census, the couple was living in Chicago, Illinois as married under the (misspelled) name Tameriroff. It appears also that this was his second marriage.
Tamiroff died on September 17, 1972, from cancer.
He was twice nominated for Academy Awards, both times for Actor in a Supporting Role. The first was for his work in The General Died at Dawn, and the second was for his work in For Whom the Bell Tolls.
In popular culture
- Okay, America! (1932) as Bit role (uncredited film debut)
- Clear All Wires! (1933) as Moscow Hotel Clerk (uncredited)
- Gabriel Over the White House (1933) as Delegate to the Debt Conference (uncredited)
- The Barbarian (1933) as Colonel (uncredited)
- Professional Sweetheart (1933) as Hotel Waiter (uncredited)
- Storm at Daybreak (1933) as Gypsy Fiddler (uncredited)
- The Devil's in Love (1933) as Adjutant (uncredited)
- Queen Christina (1933) as Pedro (uncredited)
- Fugitive Lovers (1934) as Deaf-Mute Bus Passenger (uncredited)
- Sadie McKee (1934) as Riccori
- The Scarlet Empress (1934) as Bit part (uncredited)
- The Great Flirtation (1934) as Paul Wengler
- Whom the Gods Destroy (1934) as Peter Korotoff
- Straight Is the Way (1934) as Mr. Slavko (uncredited)
- Now and Forever (1934) as French Jeweller (uncredited)
- Chained (1934) as Pablo, the Ranch Chef
- The Merry Widow (1934) as Manager of Maxim's (uncredited)
- Lady by Choice (1934) as Poupolis (uncredited)
- The Captain Hates the Sea (1934) as General Salazaro
- Here Is My Heart (1934) as Manager of Hotel
- The Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1935) as Emir
- La veuve joyeuse (1935) as Turk
- The Winning Ticket (1935) as Giuseppe
- Rumba (1935) as Tony (uncredited)
- Naughty Marietta (1935) as Rudolpho
- Black Fury (1935) as Sokolsky
- Reckless (1935) as Chef at Wedding (uncredited)
- Go into Your Dance (1935) as Mexican in La Cucaracha Cantina
- Paris in Spring (1935) as Cafe Manager
- Black Fury (1935) as Romanoff
- China Seas (1935) (scenes deleted)
- Ladies Love Danger (1935) (scenes deleted)
- The Gay Deception (1935) as Spellek
- The Big Broadcast of 1936 (1935) as Boris
- Two-Fisted (1935) as Taxi Driver
- The Last Outpost (1935) as Mirov (uncredited)
- The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936) as Dr. Zaranoff
- Woman Trap (1936) as Joe Ramirez de la Valle
- Desire (1936) as Avilia, Police Official
- Anthony Adverse (1936) as Carlo Cibo
- The General Died at Dawn (1936) as General Yang
- The Jungle Princess (1936) as Karen Neg
- I Loved a Soldier (1936, unfinished film)
- Her Husband Lies (1937) as Big Ed Bullock
- The Soldier and the Lady (1937) as Ogareff
- King of Gamblers (1937) as Steve Kalkas
- The Great Gambini (1937) as The Great Gambini
- High, Wide, and Handsome (1937) as Joe Varese
- This Way Please (1937) as Tartar Chieftain (uncredited)
- The Buccaneer (1938) as Dominique You
- Dangerous to Know (1938) as Stephan Recka
- Spawn of the North (1938) as Red Skain
- Ride a Crooked Mile (1938) as Mike Balan
- Paris Honeymoon (1939) as Mayor Peter Karloca
- King of Chinatown (1939) as Frank Baturin
- Union Pacific (1939) as Fiesta
- The Magnificent Fraud (1939) as Jules LaCroix / President Alvarado
- Honeymoon in Bali (1939) as Tony, the Window Washer
- Disputed Passage (1939) as Dr. 'Tubby' Forster
- The Way of All Flesh (1940) as Paul Kriza
- Untamed (1940) as Joe Easter
- The Great McGinty (1940) as The Boss
- North West Mounted Police (1940) as Dan Duroc
- Texas Rangers Ride Again (1940) as Mio PIo
- New York Town (1941) as Stefan Janowski
- The Corsican Brothers (1941) as Colonna
- Reap the Wild Wind (1942) as The Lamb (voice, uncredited)
- Tortilla Flat (1942) as Pablo
- Five Graves to Cairo (1943) as Farid
- For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) as Pablo
- His Butler's Sister (1943) as Popoff
- The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944) as The Boss
- The Bridge of San Luis Rey (1944) as Uncle Pio
- Dragon Seed (1944) as Wu Lien
- Can't Help Singing (1944) as Gregory
- Pardon My Past (1945) as Jim Arnold
- A Scandal in Paris (1946) as Emile Vernet
- Fiesta (1947) as Chato Vasquez
- The Gangster (1947) as Nick Jammey
- My Girl Tisa (1948) as Mr. Grumbach
- Relentless (1948) as Joe Faringo
- Outpost in Morocco (1949) as Lt. Glysko
- Black Magic (1949) as Gitano
- Desert Legion (1953) as Pvt. Plevko
- They Who Dare (1954) as Captain George One
- You Know What Sailors Are (1954) as President of Agraria
- Cartouche (1955) as Marchese di Salpiere
- The Widow (1955) as The Uncle
- Mr. Arkadin (1955) as Jakob Zouk
- The Black Sleep (1956) as Odo
- Anastasia (1956) as Boris Adreivich Chernov
- Yangtse Incident: The Story of H.M.S. Amethyst (1957) as Colonel Peng
- Touch of Evil (1958) as 'Uncle' Joe Grandi
- Me and the Colonel (1958) as Szabuniewicz
- The Rifleman (1958, TV Series) as Cesar Tiffauges
- Desert Desperadoes (1959) as The Merchant
- Ocean's 11 (1960) as Spyros Acebos
- La moglie di mio marito (1961) as Presidente agenzia pubblicitaria
- The Bacchantes (1961) as Teiresias
- Romanoff and Juliet (1961) as Vadim Romanoff
- The Last Judgment (1961) as Play director
- The Italian Brigands (1961) as O Zingaro
- Ursus and the Tartar Princess (1961) as Khan of the Tartars
- Invasion 1700 (1962) as Mielski Zasloba
- The Reluctant Saint (1962) as Bishop
- The Trial (1962) as Bloch
- A Queen for Caesar (1962) as Gnaeus Pompeius
- The Black Tulip (1964) as Marquis de Vigogne
- Panic Button (1964) as Pandowski
- Topkapi (1964) as Gerven the Cook
- Spuit Elf (1964) as Bakker / Brandmeester
- Le bambole (1965) as Monsignor Arcudi (segment "Monsignor Cupido")
- Lord Jim (1965) as Schomberg
- Crime on a Summer Morning (1965) as Frank Kramer
- Alphaville (1965) as Henri Dickson
- Marco the Magnificent (1965) as The Old Man of the Mountain
- Marie-Chantal contre le docteur Kha (1965) as Prof. Lambaré / Dr. Kha
- The Liquidator (1965) as Sheriek
- Adultery Italian Style (1966) as Max Portesi
- Hotel Paradiso (1966) as Anniello, owner of Hotel Paradiso
- Lt. Robin Crusoe, U.S.N. (1966) as Tanamashu
- I nostri mariti (1966) as Cesare (segment "Il Marito di Olga")
- After the Fox (1966) as Okra
- Un gangster venuto da Brooklyn (1966) as Joe Montano
- The Vulture (1966) as Prof. Hans Koniglich
- A Rose for Everyone (1967) as Basilio
- Monsieur Lecoq (1967, Unfinished film)
- O tutto o niente (1968) as Pigsty / Dean Light
- The Girl Who Couldn't Say No (1968) as Uncle Egidio
- Great Catherine (1968) as Sergeant
- Moto Shel Yehudi (1968) as Inspector Mehdaloun
- Then Came Bronson (1969) as Papa Bear
- 100 Rifles (1969) as Gen. Romero (scenes deleted)
- Marquis de Sade: Justine (1969) as Du Harpin
- The Great Bank Robbery (1969) as Papa – Juan's Father
- Don Quixote (unfinished, filmed between 1955–1969) as Sancho Panza
- "Akim Tamiroff, Actor, Is Dead; Had Screen Career of 35 Years". The New York Times. 19 September 1972. Archived from the original on 24 March 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- The Multi-Russian: Akim Tamiroff. Blog.wfmu.org (2007-05-13). Retrieved on 2014-04-01.
- "Russians in Hollywood".
- 'Practice Fun' Music Studio Archived 2006-10-29 at the Wayback Machine. Dougmacaulay.com. Retrieved on 2014-04-01.
- "Akim Tamiroff". Archived from the original on February 1, 2005. Retrieved September 2, 2016.. theoscarsite.com. Retrieved on 2014-04-01.
- Low-rated and barely animated, Rocky & Bullwinkle became a TV touchstone. Tv.avclub.com. Retrieved on July 8, 2013.
- 1923 passenger list, Birth year 1896. "Ancestry.com".
- Census 1930, Tameriroff couple. "Ancestry.com".
- Marriage date. "Ancestry.com".
- "Golden Globe Awards for 'Akim Tamiroff'". Golden Globe Awards. Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Archived from the original on 16 January 2016. Retrieved 24 March 2018.
- "("Tamiroff" search results)". Academy Awards Database. Retrieved 24 March 2018.[permanent dead link]
- The Moviegoer. (New York: Vintage, 1998), 165