Efrem Zimbalist Jr.

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Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Zimbalist in 1956
Born(1918-11-30)November 30, 1918
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedMay 2, 2014(2014-05-02) (aged 95)
Alma materYale University
Years active1945–2009
Known forLewis Erskine, Stuart Bailey, Dandy Jim Buckley, Alfred Pennyworth
Television77 Sunset Strip, The F.B.I., Maverick, Batman: The Animated Series
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Emily Munroe McNair
(m. 1941; died 1950)
Loranda Stephanie Spalding
(m. 1956; died 2007)
Children3, including Stephanie Zimbalist
RelativesMarcia Davenport (half-sister)
Military career
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1941–1945
RankSecond Lieutenant
UnitCompany L, 60th Infantry Regiment
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsActing Awards
Golden Globe Award

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (November 30, 1918 – May 2, 2014) was an American actor best 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 of Alfred Pennyworth in the DC Animated Universe.

Early years[edit]

Zimbalist was born in 1918 in Brooklyn to Jewish immigrants Efrem Zimbalist Sr. (1889–1985), a famous Russian-born violinist[1] and symphony conductor, and Alma Gluck (1884–1938), an equally famous Romanian-born operatic soprano.[2] He had an older sister, Mary (1915–2008),[3] along with a half-sister from his mother's first marriage, author Marcia Davenport (1903–1996).[4] His stepmother was Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist, the founder of the Curtis Institute of Music. Both parents converted to Anglican Christianity and regularly attended the Episcopal Church. Efrem Jr. attended Fay School in Southborough, Massachusetts.[5]

Zimbalist boarded at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, taking part in school plays. He briefly attended Yale University but was expelled, reinstated and expelled a second time on account of low grades.[2] He moved back to New York City in 1936 to work as a page for NBC radio where he had small on-air roles as well as presenting shows. He furthered his acting training at Neighborhood Playhouse[6] before serving in the United States Army during World War II, where he became friends with writer and director Garson Kanin.[citation needed]

Military service[edit]

Zimbalist was drafted in 1941.[7] Inducted into the United States Army, he completed his initial training at Fort Dix, New Jersey.[8] Selected for officer candidate school, after graduation in 1943 he received his commission as a second lieutenant of Infantry.[9] Zimbalist was assigned as a platoon leader in Company L, 3rd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division and participated in combat in Europe following the Normandy landings.[9] He was discharged at the end of the war, and his awards and decorations included the Bronze Star Medal and Combat Infantryman Badge, in addition to the Purple Heart he received for a shrapnel wound to his leg during the battle of Hürtgen Forest.[9]


Early career[edit]

Following the war, Zimbalist returned to New York and made his Broadway acting debut in The Rugged Path,[10][11] starring Spencer Tracy. This led to a stage career as both actor and producer. His producing successes included bringing three Gian Carlo Menotti operas to Broadway, one of which, The Consul,[12] won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 1950.

In 1954–1955, he co-starred in his first television series, Concerning Miss Marlowe.[11]

Warner Bros. star[edit]

Andra Martin and Zimbalist in 77 Sunset Strip, 1960
Zimbalist in 77 Sunset Strip, 1963

In 1956, Zimbalist was put under contract by Warner Bros. and moved to Hollywood.[13] 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 during this time that he was given a vacation by Jack L. Warner, owing to exhaustion from his busy schedule.[citation needed]

Jack Warner lent him to Columbia Pictures for By Love Possessed in exchange for adding several years to his Warners' contract, but he refused to let Zimbalist appear in BUtterfield 8 for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[14]

In 1959, he was awarded the Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer – Male".[citation needed]

The F.B.I. television series[edit]

1971 publicity photo of Zimbalist on The F.B.I.

Apart from 77 Sunset Strip, 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 aired its final episode on April 28, 1974.[15] Zimbalist was generous in his praise of producer Martin and of his own experience starring in the show. Those who worked with him were equally admiring of the star's professionalism and likable personality.[16]

Zimbalist maintained a strong personal relationship with F.B.I. director J. Edgar Hoover, who requested that the show be technically accurate and portray his agents in the best possible light, and he insisted actors playing F.B.I. employees undergo a background check.[16] Zimbalist subsequently spent a week in contact with Hoover in Washington, D.C., and at the F.B.I. Academy in Quantico, Virginia. The men remained mutual admirers for the rest of Hoover's life.[16] Hoover held up Zimbalist as a model for F.B.I. employees' personal appearance.[17]

The Society of Former Special Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation[18] honored the character of Lewis Erskine in 1985 with a set of retired credentials,[19] and on June 8, 2009, FBI Director Robert Mueller presented Zimbalist with a plaque honoring him for his work on the series.[19][20]

The show was revived in the 1980s as Today's FBI starring Mike Connors.

Other television work[edit]

Zimbalist in 1972

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. He also recurred in the television dramatic series Hotel.

In 1990, he played the father of Zorro in the Christian Broadcasting Network's The New Zorro. Zimbalist relinquished the role after the program's first season because of 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. He said being Alfred had "made me an idol in my little grandchildren’s eyes.”[21] Zimbalist also played villain Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. He appeared on the Trinity Broadcasting Network[22] and as himself in the 1998 Smithsonian Institution production of Gemstones of America.[23] He performed as the narrator in "Good Morning, America" by Elinor Remick Warren.[24]

Zimbalist wrote an autobiography, My Dinner of Herbs, published by Limelight Editions, New York.[13]

In 2008, he appeared in the short film The Delivery, in which 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[edit]

Efrem's parents, Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist Sr., 1915

In December 1941, Zimbalist married his first wife, Emily Munroe McNair. They had two children, Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III (b. 1947) and Nancy (1944–2012). In January 1950, Emily died from cancer.[25]

In 1956, Zimbalist married Loranda Stephanie Spalding. Loranda's middle name was given to their daughter, actress Stephanie Zimbalist. On February 5, 2007, aged 73, Loranda died from lung cancer.[25]


Zimbalist's parents, Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist, were of Jewish descent but, on emigrating to America, had left the religion.[26] Moreover, Efrem Zimbalist stated, "As far as I am concerned, there has been no Jew in the family for sixty-five years."[26]

Zimbalist was baptized in the Episcopal Church. He said that when growing up he was taken to church every Sunday. He attended St. Paul's School, an Episcopal boarding school in New Hampshire.[27] Zimbalist said his faith gave him comfort when Emily died.[28]

He had a nine-year association with the practice of Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Zimbalist described the Maharishi Yogi as a "fascinating character", but found the meditation method "... was a total waste of energy for me."[28]

In the late 1970s, he was drawn to the Charismatic Christianity movement. His first association was with Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker's PTL ministry. For several years, he was a member of the PTL board. PTL's principal televangelistic successor, the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN),[29] engaged Zimbalist to make its many announcements, including the station's idents every half hour, which aired between 1992 and 2012. In a five-minute segment called "The Word" aired on TBN at 25 minutes after the hour, Zimbalist would read a verse from the Bible, eventually completing the entire text, verse by verse.[30] In 1989, he said, "for a while I did go overboard in my association with a fundamentalist group".[31]

In later life, Zimbalist joined the congregation of an Episcopal parish near to his home.[28] Afterward he joined the Anglican Church of Our Savior in Santa Barbara; he was an occasional reader there and requested donations be made to them (among others) in his obituary.[32]


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.[33]


Zimbalist died at the age of 95, the same age at which his father had died, on May 2, 2014, from natural causes.[29]



Year Title Role Notes Refs
1949 House of Strangers Tony Monetti Film noir directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz [11][34]
1957 Band of Angels Lt. Ethan Sears Romantic drama film directed by Raoul Walsh. [11][35]
Bombers B-52 Colonel Jim Herlihy CinemaScope film directed by Gordon Douglas. [11][36]
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. [11][37]
Too Much, Too Soon Vincent Bryant Biographical film directed by Art Napoleon. [11][38]
Violent Road George Lawrence Remake of The Wages of Fear and directed by Howard W. Koch. [11][39][40]
Girl on the Run Stuart Bailey
Home Before Dark Jacob 'Jake' Diamond Drama film directed and produced by Mervyn LeRoy. [11][41]
1960 The Crowded Sky Dale Heath Drama film directed by Joseph Pevney. [11][42][Note 1]
1961 A Fever in the Blood Judge Leland Hoffman Drama film directed by Vincent Sherman. [11][44]
By Love Possessed Arthur Winner Drama film directed by John Sturges. [11][45]
1962 The Chapman Report Paul Radford Drama film directed by George Cukor. [11][46]
1965 Harlow William Mansfield Fictionalized drama based on the life of film star Jean Harlow directed by Alex Segal. [11][47]
The Reward Frank Bryant Western film directed by Serge Bourguignon. [11][48]
1967 Wait Until Dark Sam Hendrix Psychological thriller film directed by Terence Young. [11][49]
1974 Airport 1975 Captain Stacy Air disaster film and the first sequel to the successful 1970 film Airport and directed by Jack Smight. [11][50]
1982 The Avenging Jacob Anderson Drama film written and directed by Lyman Dayton. [11][51]
1991 Hot Shots! Wilson Comedy spoof film of Top Gun directed and co-written by Jim Abrahams. [11][52]
1993 Jack L. Warner: The Last Mogul Narrator Documentary film directed and written by Gregory Orr.
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm Alfred Pennyworth
1995 The Street Corner Kids: The Sequel Makenzie Family film directed and written by Margaret Raphael.
1998 Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero Alfred Pennyworth Voice, Direct-to-video superhero animated feature film directed, co-written, and co-produced by Boyd Kirkland. [11][53]
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 Voice, Direct-to-video animated film directed by Curt Geda. [11][54]
2008 The Delivery Dr. Engel Short film directed and written by Gabrielle DeCuir., (final film role)


Year Title Role Notes Refs
1946 Mr. and Mrs. North Star Television film [55]
1954–1955 Concerning Miss Marlowe Jim Gavin Contract role [11]
1956 Star Tonight Guest Episode: "The Long View" (S 2:Ep 42) [56]
The United States Steel Hour Sean O'Neill Episode "Stopover at Sublimity" (S 3:Ep 30) [11]
1957 Conflict Stuart Bailey 2 episodes [57]
1957–1958 Maverick Dandy Jim Buckley Recurring
1958 Girl on the Run Stuart Bailey Television film [11][58]
Sugarfoot Kerrigan the Great Episode: "The Wizard" (S 2: Ep 3)
1958–1964 77 Sunset Strip Stuart Bailey Contract role; 163 episodes [59]
1959–1962 Hawaiian Eye Stuart Bailey Recurring
1960 The 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) [60]
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) [61]
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour Stranger Episode: "See the Monkey Dance" (S 3: Ep 5)
The Reporter Charles Durwood Episode: "Super-Star" (S 1: Ep 9)
1965 Rawhide Jeff McKeever Episode: "The Diehard" (S 7: Ep 25)
Password Himself Episode: "Angie Dickinson vs. Efrem Zimbalist Jr."
1965–1974 The F.B.I. Inspector Lewis Erskine Contract role; 241 episodes [62]
1967 Cosa Nostra, Arch Enemy of the F.B.I. Inspector Lewis Erskine (archive footage) Television film [63]
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 The 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 Television film [11]
1978 A Family Upside Down Mike Long Television film [11]
Terror Out of the Sky David Martin Television film [11]
30th Primetime Emmy Awards Himself Presenter
1979 The Best Place to Be Bill Reardan Television film [11]
The Gathering, Part II Victor Wainwright Television film [11]
Insight God Episode: "Checkmate" (S 20: Ep 11)
Guest Episode: "A Family of Winners" (S 20: Ep 12)
1980 Scruples Ellis Ikehorn Miniseries [11]
The Anita Bryant Spectacular Himself [64]
1982 Beyond Witch Mountain Aristotle Bolt Television film [11]
Family in Blue Marty Malone Television film [11]
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 Television film [65]
Baby Sister Tom Burroughs Television film [11]
Shooting Stars Robert Cluso Television film [11]
1983–87 Remington Steele Daniel Chalmers Recurring [11]
1984 The 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 Episode: "The Georgia Street Motors" (S 1:Ep 18) [66]
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) [11]
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" [67]
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" [67]
1986–88 Hotel Charles Cabot Recurring [11]
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 [11]
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 The Legend of Prince Valiant King Arthur (voice) Contract role; 53 episodes
1992–1995 Batman: The Animated Series Alfred Pennyworth Contract role; 57 episodes [11]
1993 Trade Winds Christof Philips Miniseries [11]
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)
The 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 [68]
The 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) [11]
1997–1998 The New Batman Adventures Alfred Pennyworth Recurring [11]
1998 Gemstones of America Himself Host
The Batman Superman Movie: World's Finest Alfred Pennyworth Voice, television film [11]
1999 A Year to Remember Himself Host
2001 The First Day Benjamin Hart Television film [11]
2003 Static Shock Alfred Pennyworth Episode: "Hard as Nails" (S 3: Ep 1) [11]
2003–2004 Justice League Alfred Pennyworth Voice, 3 episodes [11]
2004 Batman: Behind the Mystery Himself
TVLand Moguls Himself
2007 The Brothers Warner Himself Historical film directed by Cass Warner (credited as Cass Warner Sperling). [69]

Video games[edit]

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 [11]


Year Title Role Notes Refs
1983 The Tempest Prospero Directed by William Woodman. [70]


Opening date Closing date Title Role Theatre Refs
Nov 10, 1945 Jan 19, 1946 The Rugged Path Gil Hartnick Plymouth [10][11]
Nov 6, 1946 Feb 21, 1947 King Henry VIII Duke of Suffolk International Theatre [11][71]
Nov 8, 1946 Feb 15, 1947 What Every Woman Knows A Butler, Ensemble International Theatre [11][72]
Dec 19, 1946 Feb 22, 1947 A Pound on Demand
Androcles and the Lion
Secutor International Theatre [11][73]
Feb 27, 1947 Mar 15, 1947 Yellow Jack Aristides Agramonte International Theatre [11][74]
May 1, 1947 Nov 1, 1947 The Telephone
The Medium
(producer) Ethel Barrymore Theatre [75]
Feb 24, 1948 Mar 6, 1948 Hedda Gabler Eilert Lovborg Cort Theatre [11][76]
Dec 7, 1948 Jan 9, 1949 The Telephone (producer) City Center [77]
Dec 7, 1948 Jan 9, 1949 The Medium (producer) City Center [78]
Mar 15, 1950 Nov 4, 1950 The Consul (producer) Ethel Barrymore Theatre [12]
Jan 17, 1956 Aug 11, 1956 Fallen Angels Maurice Duclos Playhouse [11][79]
Oct 16, 2004 Nov 7, 2004 Night of the Iguana Nonno Rubicon Theatre Company [80]
Apr 26, 2007 May 20, 2007 Hamlet The Player King Rubicon Theatre Company [81]



  1. ^ In Airport 1975, both Efrem Zimbalist Jr. and Dana Andrews reprised their roles, but in a reversal, Andrews does the crashing.[43]


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  20. ^ "Actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr. honored by FBI". Associated Press. 9 June 2009.
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  22. ^ "TBN – Trinity Broadcasting Network". Archived from the original on 2007-03-10. Retrieved 2006-10-17.
  23. ^ Gemstones of America
  24. ^ Cambria CD #1042 (1993)
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  27. ^ Stanford, Monty (2008). "EZimablist Jr". Christus Rex. 1 (5).
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  72. ^ "What Every Woman Knows". IBDB. The Broadway League. Retrieved 1 June 2014.
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