Nehemiah Persoff

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Nehemiah Persoff
Nehemiah Persoff 1960.JPG
Nehemiah Persoff in 1960
Born (1919-08-02) August 2, 1919 (age 98)
Jerusalem, Israel
Occupation Actor
Years active 1947–1999
Spouse(s) Thia Persoff (1951–present) 4 children

Nehemiah Persoff (born August 2, 1919) is an American actor.

Early life[edit]

Born in Jerusalem, Persoff immigrated with his family to the United States in 1929. After serving in the United States Army during World War II, he worked as a subway electrician doing signal maintenance while he began to pursue his acting career in the New York Theater. In 1947, he was accepted into the Actors Studio and eventually began his acting career in 1948.[1]

Acting career[edit]

One of his first notable roles was as the gangster boss "Little Bonaparte", a parody of Benito Mussolini[2] in Billy Wilder's film classic Some Like It Hot (1959; since the death of Tony Curtis, Persoff is the last surviving member of the credited cast). He appeared in supporting roles in films such as The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and The Comancheros (1961). In the film Yentl (1983), Persoff portrayed Barbra Streisand's character's father, also the comedy film Twins (1988) and the American Tail (animated-film series) as Papa Mousekewitz. His last movie was 4 Faces, which was the last film to be directed by Ted Post.

His many television credits include Five Fingers ("The Moment of Truth"), The Big Valley ("Legend of a General", Parts I & II, episode), Alfred Hitchcock Presents ("Heart of Gold" episode), The Twilight Zone ("Judgment Night"), The Untouchables, Naked City, Route 66 (two episodes), Seaway ("Last Voyage" episode, 1965), The Legend of Jesse James, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Gunsmoke, Gilligan's Island (1965), The Wild Wild West, The High Chaparral ("Fiesta" episode, 1970), Hawaii Five-O (7 episodes), Ellery Queen ("The Adventure of the Pharaoh's Curse" episode), Mission: Impossible (3 episodes), Adam-12 ("Vendetta" episode), and The Mod Squad.

In the mid-1980s, when health problems decreased his acting workload, Persoff pursued painting, specializing in watercolor.

Personal life[edit]

He retired from acting in 1999 and devoted his full-time to his painting. He currently lives with his wife, Thia, in Cambria, California.[3] They have four children.

Television and filmography[edit]


  1. ^ Shadrak, Herbert (March 26, 2010). "Nehemiah Persoff: From Jerusalem to Hollywood – and Beyond". Cinema Retro. Retrieved May 10, 2014. 
  2. ^ Jeffrey Meyers: The Genius and the Goddess: Arthur Miller and Marilyn Monroe. University of Illinois Press, 2010, ISBN 978-0-252-03544-9, p. 193.
  3. ^ "Nehemiah Persoff retired from screen to canvas". Senior Voice. Retrieved June 12, 2017. 
  4. ^ DVD Collection

External links[edit]