Martin Henry Balsam
November 4, 1919
New York City, U.S.
|Died||February 13, 1996 (aged 76)|
|Resting place||Cedar Park Cemetery, Emerson, New Jersey, U.S.|
|Alma mater||The New School|
|Notable work||See list|
(m. 1952; div. 1954)
(m. 1957; div. 1962)
(m. 1963; div. 1987)
|Children||3, including Talia Balsam|
Martin Henry Balsam (November 4, 1919 – February 13, 1996) was an American actor who had a prolific career in character roles in film, in theatre, and on television. An early member of the Actors Studio, he began his career on the New York stage, winning a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for Robert Anderson’s You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running (1968). He won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in A Thousand Clowns (1965).
His other notable film roles include Juror #1 in 12 Angry Men (1957), private detective Milton Arbogast in Psycho (1960), Hollywood agent O.J. Berman in Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Bernard B. Norman in The Carpetbaggers (1964), Lt. Commander Chester Potter, the ship doctor, in The Bedford Incident, Colonel Cathcart in Catch-22 (1970), Admiral Husband E. Kimmel in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Mr. Green in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), Signor Bianchi in Murder on the Orient Express (1974), and Howard Simons in All the President's Men (1976). He had a recurring role as Dr. Milton Orloff on the television drama Dr. Kildare (1963-66), and Murray Klein on the sitcom Archie Bunker's Place (1979–83).
Early life and education
Martin Henry Balsam was born November 4, 1919, in the Bronx borough of New York City, to Russian Jewish parents, Lillian (née Weinstein) and Albert Balsam, who was a manufacturer of women's sportswear. He attended DeWitt Clinton High School, where he participated in the drama club. He studied at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the German director Erwin Piscator and then served in the United States Army Air Forces from 1941 to 1945 during World War II, achieving the rank of Sergeant. He served as a sergeant radio operator in a B-24 in the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations.
In early 1948, he was selected by Elia Kazan to be a member in the recently formed Actors Studio. He appeared consistently in Broadway and off-Broadway plays, something he would continue to do well into his screen acting career. Columnist Earl Wilson dubbed him "The Bronx Barrymore".
In 1968, he won a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance in the 1967 Broadway production of You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running.
Balsam performed in several episodes of the studio's dramatic television anthology series, broadcast between September 1948 and 1950. He appeared in many other television drama series, including Decoy with Beverly Garland, The Twilight Zone (episodes "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine" and "The New Exhibit"), as a psychologist in the pilot episode, Five Fingers, Target: The Corruptors!, The Eleventh Hour, Breaking Point, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Fugitive, and Mr. Broadway, as a retired U.N.C.L.E. agent in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. episode, "The Odd Man Affair", and guest-starred in the two-part Murder, She Wrote episode, "Death Stalks the Big Top". He also appeared in the Route 66 episode, "Somehow It Gets To Be Tomorrow".
He played Dr. Rudy Wells when the Martin Caidin novel Cyborg was adapted as a TV-movie pilot for The Six Million Dollar Man (1973), though he did not reprise the role for the subsequent series. In 1975, he appeared as James Arthur Cummins in the Joe Don Baker police drama Mitchell, a film that was eventually featured in a highly popular episode of the comedy film-riffing series Mystery Science Theater 3000 in 1993. He appeared as a spokesman/hostage in the TV movie Raid on Entebbe (1976) and as a detective in the TVM Contract on Cherry Street (1977), starring Frank Sinatra. He also appeared on an episode of Quincy, M.E.. Balsam starred as Murray Klein on the All in the Family spin-off Archie Bunker's Place for two seasons (1979–81) and returned for a guest appearance in the show's fourth and final season.
Balsam made his film debut with an uncredited role in On the Waterfront (1954), directed by his Actors' Studio colleague Elia Kazan. Balsam played an official of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey investigating mob involvement in the city's waterfront unions. His breakthrough role came a few years later, when he played Juror #1 in 12 Angry Men (1957). He would collaborate with the film's director, Sidney Lumet, twice more with The Anderson Tapes (1971) and Murder on the Orient Express (1974).
In 1960, he appeared in one of his best-remembered roles as private investigator Arbogast in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Along with Gregory Peck and Robert Mitchum, Balsam appeared in both the original Cape Fear (1962), and the 1991 Martin Scorsese remake. He won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Arnold Burns in A Thousand Clowns (1965). Balsam also performed the original voice of the HAL 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey. After his lines were recorded, director Stanley Kubrick decided "Marty just sounded a little bit too colloquially American," and hired Douglas Rain to perform the role for the released film.
Balsam also appeared in such notable films as Time Limit with Richard Widmark, Breakfast at Tiffany's with Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard, The Carpetbaggers with George Peppard and Alan Ladd, Seven Days in May with Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas, The Bedford Incident with Richard Widmark and Sidney Portier, Hombre with Paul Newman and Fredric March, Catch-22 with Alan Arkin and Jon Voight, Tora! Tora! Tora! (as Admiral Husband E. Kimmel), Little Big Man with Dustin Hoffman, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three with Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw, All the President's Men with Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford, The Delta Force with Lee Marvin, and The Goodbye People. One of his final acting appearances was in the 1994 horror parody The Silence of the Hams, which paid homage to his iconic role in Psycho.
Beyond Hollywood, Balsam was also a popular character actor in Italian films, beginning in 1960 when he starred in the Luigi Comencini film Everybody Go Home. He would star in several poliziottesco films throughout the 1970s, directed by the likes of Fernando Di Leo and Enzo G. Castellari. Balsam's roles in these films would be re-dubbed into Italian, but he would loop his own lines in the English-language export versions. Balsam maintained close ties to Italy even after the end of the poliziottesco trend, traveling there for both professional and personal reasons, and starring in the Italian-produced television series Ocean and La piovra.
In 1951, Balsam married his first wife, actress Pearl Somner. They divorced three years later. His second wife was actress Joyce Van Patten. This marriage lasted for four years (from 1958 until 1962) with one daughter, Talia Balsam. He married his third wife, Irene Miller, in 1963. They had two children, Adam and Zoe Balsam, and divorced in 1987.
|1949–1950||Actors Studio||Soldier||4 episodes|
|1951||The Living Christ Series||Innkeeper||Miniseries|
|The Big Story||Bill Pinney|
|Frontiers of Faith|
|1952||The Living Bible||Nobleman|
|1953||Man Against Crime||Tony / Jean Pinay|
|Valiant Lady||Joey Gordon|
|1954||On the Waterfront||Gillette, Secondary Investigator for Crime Commission||Uncredited|
|The Greatest Gift||Harold Matthews #2|
|Inner Sanctum Mystery||Wesley / Hanson / Larkin||3 episodes|
|1954–1955||Philco Television Playhouse||Charlie Malick / Mike Galloway||3 episodes|
|1954–1956||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Perkins / Walter Gregg||3 episodes|
|1955||The United States Steel Hour||Petty Officer|
|1957||12 Angry Men||Juror #1|
|Time Limit||Sergeant Baker|
|1957–1958||Studio One||Francis Toohey / Ed Coyne||3 episodes|
|1958||Kraft Television Theatre||Dino|
|Marjorie Morningstar||Dr. David Harris|
|Father Knows Best||Teacher|
|Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Leonard Thompson|
|1958–59||Playhouse 90||Sam Gordon / Captain Mantell||3 episodes|
|Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse||Gambetta / Dr. Gillespie||2 episodes|
|1958–1960||Have Gun – Will Travel||Marshall Jim Brock / Charles Dawes||2 episodes|
|Al Capone||Mac Keeley|
|The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen||2 episodes|
|Middle of the Night||Jack|
|The DuPont Show of the Month||Charlie Davis|
|Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater||Sam Butler|
|The Twilight Zone||Danny Weiss||Episode: "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine"|
|1959–1962||Naked City||Captain Russell Barris / Joseph Creeley / Caldwell Wyatt / Arnold Fleischman||4 episodes|
|Goodyear Theater||Joe Lane|
|The Robert Herridge Theater|
|Sacco-Vanzetti Story||Nicola Sacco||NBC Sunday Showcase (1960), nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards as "program of the year"|
|Tutti a casa||Sergeant Quintino Fornaciari|
|1961||Way Out||Bill Clayton|
|Alfred Hitchcock Presents||Elon Marsh|
|Breakfast at Tiffany's||O.J. Berman|
|The New Breed||Frank Eberhardt|
|The Untouchables||Barry Leimer|
|1961–1964||The Defenders||District Attorney / Bernard Maxwell / Floyd Harker||4 episodes|
|1962||Cain's Hundred||Jack Garsell|
|The Untouchables||Arnold Justin|
|Cape Fear||Police Chief Mark Dutton|
|Target: The Corruptors||Jeffrey Marvin|
|La città prigioniera||Joseph Feinberg|
|1962–1966||Dr. Kildare||Dr. Milton Orliff / Benny Orloff / Ned Lacey||7 episodes|
|The Eleventh Hour||Frank Dunlear|
|The Twilight Zone||Martin Lombard Senescu||Episode: "The New Exhibit"|
|Breaking Point||Rabbi Eli Oringer|
|Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?||Sanford Kaufman|
|1964||Arrest and Trial||Leo Valera|
|Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre||Dave Breslaw|
|Seven Days in May||Presidential aide Paul Girard|
|Wagon Train||Marcey Jones|
|Suspense||Detective Jack Gross|
|The Carpetbaggers||Bernard B. Norman|
|Youngblood Hawke||Cameo Appearance||Uncredited|
|Mr. Broadway||Nate Bannerman|
|1965||ITV Play of the Week||Doc Delaney|
|The Man from U.N.C.L.E||Albert Sully||Episode: "The Odd Man Affair"|
|The Bedford Incident||Lieutenant Commander Chester Potter, USNR, MD|
|A Thousand Clowns||Arnold||Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|12 O'Clock High||Army Doctor||Uncredited|
|1966||Caccia alla volpe||Harry Granoff|
|"Anyone Around My Base Is It"||Narrator||Short Documentary|
|1967||The Fugitive||Andrew Newmark|
|Among the Paths to Eden||Ivor Belli|
|1968||The Name of the Game||Angie|
|Around the World of Mike Todd||Michael Todd||TV movie / Documentary; Voice|
|1969||Me, Natalie||Harold Miller|
|The Good Guys and the Bad Guys||Mayor Wilker|
|Trilogy||Ivor Belli||(segment: "Among the Paths to Eden")|
|Hunters Are for Killing||Wade Hamilton||TV movie|
|Catch-22||Colonel Cathcart||Group Commander, 256th Bomb Group|
|Tora! Tora! Tora!||Admiral Husband E. Kimmel|
|The Old Man Who Cried Wolf||Stanley Pulska|
|The Name of the Game||Herb Witmer|
|Little Big Man||Mr. Merriweather|
|1971||Confessions of a Police Captain||Inspector Bonavia|
|The Anderson Tapes||Tommy Haskins|
|1972||Chronicle of a Homicide||Judge Aldo Sola|
|The Hassled Hooker||District Attorney Turrisi|
|The Man||Jim Talley|
|Night of Terror||Captain Caleb Sark||TV movie|
|The Infamous Column|
|1973||A Brand New Life||Jim Douglas||TV movie|
|The Six Million Dollar Man||Dr. Rudy Wells||TV movie: "The Moon and the Desert"|
|The Stone Killer||Al Vescari|
|Counselor at Crime||Don Antonio Macaluso|
|Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams||Harry Walden|
|Money to Burn||TV movie|
|Police Story||Detective Al Koster|
|1974||The Taking of Pelham One Two Three||Harold "Green" Longman|
|Trapped Beneath the Sea||T.C. Hollister||TV movie|
|Murder on the Orient Express||Bianchi|
|1975||Miles to Go Before I Sleep||Ben Montgomery||TV movie|
|Smiling Maniacs||Carlo Goja|
|Death Among Friends||Ham Russell Buckner||TV movie|
|Cry, Onion!||Petrus Lamb|
|Mitchell||James Arthur Cummings|
|Season for Assassins||Commissioner Katroni|
|1976||The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case||Edward J. Reilly||TV movie|
|All the President's Men||Howard Simons|
|Meet Him and Die||Giulianelli|
|Two-Minute Warning||Sam McKeever|
|Raid on Entebbe||Daniel Cooper||TV movie|
|1977||The Sentinel||Professor Ruzinsky|
|Silver Bears||Joe Fiore|
|Contract on Cherry Street||Captain Ernie Weinberg|
|The Storyteller||Ira Davidoff||TV movie|
|Blood and Diamonds||Rizzo|
|1978||Eyes Behind the Stars||Inspector Jim Grant|
|Siege||Henry Fancher||TV movie|
|Rainbow||Louis B. Mayer||TV movie|
|The Millionaire||Arthur Haines||TV movie|
|The Joe Franklin Show||Himself||Television interview|
|A Salute to American Imagination||Himself||TV movie / Documentary|
|1979||The Seeding of Sarah Burns||Dr. Samuel Melman||TV movie|
|The House on Garibaldi Street||Isser Harel||TV movie|
|Aunt Mary||Harry Strasburg||TV movie|
|1979–1983||Archie Bunker's Place||Murray Klein||series regular / guest star; 46 episodes|
|1980||The Love Tapes||David Franklin|
|There Goes the Bride||Elmer Babcock|
|The Warning||Questore Martorana|
|1981||The Salamander||Captain Steffanelli|
|The People vs. Jean Harris||Joel Aurnou||TV movie|
|1982||Quincy, M.E.||Hyam Sigerski|
|Little Gloria... Happy at Last||Nathan Burkan||TV movie|
|Night of 100 Stars||Himself||TV special|
|1983||I Want to Live!||Jack Brady||TV movie|
|Cold Storage||Parmigian||TV Movie|
|1984||The Goodbye People||Max Silverman|
|Innocent Prey||Sheriff Virgil Baker|
|St. Elmo's Fire||Mr. Beamish|
|Murder in Space||Alexander Rostov||TV movie|
|Death Wish 3||Bennett|
|1986||La piovra, season 2||Frank Carrisi||Miniseries; 5 episodes|
|The Delta Force||Ben Kaplan|
|Whatever It Takes||Hap Perchicksky|
|Second Serve||Dr. Beck||TV movie|
|Murder, She Wrote||Edgar Carmody||Episodes: "Death Stalks The Big Top" Parts 1 & 2|
|The Twilight Zone||Rockne O'Bannon||Segment: "Personal Demons"|
|1987||Hotel||Dr. Gilbert Holt|
|P.I. Private Investigations||Cliff Dowling|
|The Twilight Zone||Professor Donald Knowles||Segment: "Voices in the Earth"|
|Brothers in Blood||Major Briggs|
|Kids Like These||Grandpa||TV movie|
|Once Again||TV movie|
|1988||The Child Saver||Sidney Rosenberg||TV movie|
|The Brother from Space||Father Howard|
|1989||Ocean||Don Matias Quintero||TV miniseries|
|1990||Two Evil Eyes||Mr. Pym||(segment "The Black Cat")|
|Midnight Caller||Gil Solarski|
|La piovra, season 5||Don Calogero Barretta|
|1992||The Sands of Time||TV movie|
|1993||"The Black Cat"||Movie Short|
|1994||The Silence of the Hams||Detective Martin Balsam|
|1995||Soldato ignoto||English meaning: Unknown Soldier|
|1997||Legend of the Spirit Dog||Gramps||Released posthumously on August 19, 1997, 9 months after his death (final film role)|
Awards and nominations
|1966||Best Supporting Actor||A Thousand Clowns||Won|
|1968||Best Actor in a Play||You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running||Won|
|1976||Best Actor in a Supporting Role||The Taking of Pelham One Two Three||Nominated|
|1977||All the President's Men||Nominated|
|1974||Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture||Summer Wishes, Winter Dreams||Nominated|
|1977||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Minieries or Movie||Raid on Entebbe||Nominated|
|1964||Best Supporting Actor||The Carpetbaggers||Won|
|1977||Outstanding Actor in a Play||Cold Storage||Nominated|
|1977||Distinguished Performance by an Actor||Cold Storage||Won|
|1967||Outstanding Actor in a Play||Cold Storage||Won|
|1978||The Shock of Recognition||Won|
- "Balsam, Martin Henry". Who Was Who in America : with World Notables, v. XI (1993–96). New Providence, N.J.: Marquis Who's Who. 1996. p. 13. ISBN 0837902258.
- OLIVER, MYRNA (February 14, 1996). "Martin Balsam; Veteran Character Actor" – via LA Times.
- Gelder, Lawrence Van (February 14, 1996). "Martin Balsam Is Dead at 76; Ubiquitous Character Actor". The New York Times.
- Van Gelder, Lawrence (February 14, 1996). "Martin Balsam Is Dead at 76; Ubiquitous Character Actor". The New York Times. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
- "Great Character Actors". Archived from the original on November 15, 2008. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
- Martin Balsam, Service Record. Together We Served. Retrieved February 19, 2020.
- Herbert, Ian, ed. (June 1, 1981). "BALSAM, Martin". Who's Who in the Theatre. Vol. 1. Gale Research Company. pp. 39–40. ISBN 978-0-8103-0235-8.
- Garfield, David (1980). "Birth of The Actors Studio: 1947–50". A Player's Place: The Story of the Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan. p. 52. ISBN 978-0-0254-2650-4.
Others usually considered founding members in Kazan's group were added in the early months of 1948. They include Martin Balsam, Kim Hunter, and Vivian Nathan.
- Wakin, Daniel J. "Actor Martin Balsam Found Dead at Rome Hotel". Associated Press. Retrieved February 8, 2022.
- Flahive, Gerry (March 30, 2018). "The Story of a Voice: HAL in '2001' Wasn't Always So Eerily Calm". The New York Times.
- Strauss, Robert (March 28, 2004). "Sometimes the Grave Is a Fine and Public Place". The New York Times.