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Martin in 1967
March 22, 1920
Gródek, Ukraine, then Poland
|Died||July 3, 1981
Ramona, California, U.S.
|Cause of death||Heart attack|
|Resting place||Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Alma mater||City College of New York
George Washington University
|Spouse(s)||Muriel Weiss (1941-1965 (her death)) 1 daughter
Olavee Parsons (1967-1981 (his death))
Ross Martin (March 22, 1920 – July 3, 1981) was a Polish American radio, voice, stage, film and television actor. Martin was known for portraying Artemus Gordon on the CBS Western series The Wild Wild West, which aired from 1965 to 1969. He was the voice of Doctor Paul Williams in 1972's Sealab 2020, additional characters in 1973's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, and additional character voices in 1978's Jana of the Jungle.
Martin was born Martin Rosenblatt to a Polish Jewish family in Gródek, Poland. His family immigrated to New York City when he was an infant. He spoke Polish, Yiddish and some Russian before learning English and later added French, Spanish and Italian to his repertoire.
Despite academic training in business, instruction, and law, Martin chose a career in acting. He was partners in a comedy team with Bernie West for several years, then appeared on many radio and live TV broadcasts before making his Broadway debut in Hazel Flagg in 1953.
Martin's first film was the George Pal 1955 production Conquest of Space, followed by a brief but memorable appearance in The Colossus of New York (1958), as the scientist father of Charles Herbert. In 1959, Martin appeared in the episode "Echo" on Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond. He appeared in two 1959 episodes of David Janssen's crime drama series, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Soon after, he caught the eye of Blake Edwards who cast him in a number of widely varied roles; as Sal in the 1959 Peter Gunn episode "The Fuse", his breakout role as the comic sidekick Andamo in the 1959 CBS drama series Mr. Lucky, the asthmatic kidnapper Red Lynch in the 1962 thriller Experiment in Terror, culminating with a role in The Great Race, as the smoothly villainous Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe. According to co-star Stephanie Powers, Martin himself suggested that his billing in Experiment in Terror be held until the film's end, lest audiences who fondly remembered him as Andamo might not accept him in a villainous role if they knew beforehand it was him.
The Wild, Wild West
After his performance in The Great Race, CBS cast Martin in what was to become his most famous part, Secret Service agent Artemus Gordon in The Wild Wild West, opposite Robert Conrad. The Artemus Gordon character was a master gadgeteer and disguise artist, and these attributes fitted Martin perfectly. Martin himself created most of his disguises for the show, and most of the cast had no idea what he would look like until seeing him during the shooting of the episode. The recent DVD release of the first season of the series includes a recently discovered pre-production sketch Martin had made of his very first make-up design for the pilot episode. Another episode revealed another of Martin's talents: he was a concert-trained violinist.
In 1968, Martin broke his leg and then suffered a near-fatal heart attack, forcing The Wild Wild West to replace him with other actors, including Charles Aidman, William Schallert and Alan Hale, Jr for nine episodes. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for the fourth and final season of The Wild Wild West. The series was cancelled in 1969 in the midst of a national controversy over violence on television.
After The Wild, Wild West ended, Martin continued his career in various guest roles on television and in roles in television films. In 1970, Martin portrayed Alexander Hamilton in the NBC television special Swing Out, Sweet Land, hosted by John Wayne. The following year, Martin tried his hand at directing. He guest starred in an episode of Columbo as a murderous art critic and also a 1971 episode of Love, American Style, which he also directed. Martin directed another episode of the series in 1973. Later that same year, he appeared as the famed Asian detective Charlie Chan in The Return of Charlie Chan. He made a guest appearance on Barnaby Jones in 1974, and also lent his voice to an episode of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home later that year.
In 1976, Martin returned to the stage as John Adams in a touring production of the musical 1776. In 1978, he did more voice work for the animated series Jana of the Jungle. He reprised the role of Artemus Gordon in two Wild, Wild West television movies: The Wild Wild West Revisited in 1979 and More Wild Wild West in 1980. He had a five-episode recurring role as kumu mobster Tony Alika on Hawaii Five-O from 1978-1979. In 1980 Martin appeared in the third season of The Love Boat as Tom Thorton. Martin's final role was in the 1983 television movie I Married Wyatt Earp. The film aired two years after his death.
Martin married his first wife, Muriel Weiss, in 1941. They had one child together, a daughter, Phyllis Rosenblatt (a New York artist). Weiss died from cancer in 1965; however, Martin and Weiss were separated at the time of her death.
In 1967, Martin married Olavee Lucile Parsons (a successful model and documentary director) and adopted her two children, Rebecca (Martin) Schacht and George Martin. Martin and Parsons remained married until Martin's death in 1981. She died in 2002.
On July 3, 1981, Martin suffered a fatal heart attack after a game of tennis at a club in Ramona, California. It was not unexpected; Martin became aware he had a heart condition when he first suffered a heart attack, back in 1968.
TV and filmography
|1949||Lights Out||Episode: "I Dreamt I Died"|
|1950||Lights Out||Episode: "A Toast to Sergeant Farnsworth"|
|1950||Lights Out||Episode: "The Gloves of Gino"|
|1951||Lights Out||Episode: "The Man with the Astrakhan Hat"|
|1950||Treasury Men in Action||Agent||Episode: "The Case of Lupo the Wolf"|
|1950||Treasury Men in Action||Agent||Episode: "The Case of the Uncovered Convict"|
|1950||Treasury Men in Action||Agent||Episode: "Episode #1.13"|
|1952||Treasury Men in Action||Agent||Episode: "The Case of the Violent Artist"|
|1952||Treasury Men in Action||Agent||Episode: "The Case of the Undercut Lace"|
|1953||Treasury Men in Action||Agent||Episode: "The Case of the Deadly Secret"|
|1954||Treasury Men in Action||Agent||Episode: "The Case of the Hush Money"|
|1951||Somerset Maugham TV Theatre||Episode: "Appearances and Reality"|
|1952||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Episode: "The Cipher"|
|1953||Suspense||Episode: "Needle in a Haystack"|
|1953||Suspense||Episode: "The Riddle of Mayerling"|
|1954||The Web||Episode: "The Hunted"|
|1954-56||The Big Story||William Fernandez||3 episodes|
|1955-57||Modern Romances'||6 episodes|
|1955||Conquest Of Space||Andre Fodor|
|1956||The Sheriff Of Cochise||Episode: "The Check Artist"|
|1957||The Alcoa Hour||Tony||Episode: "A Double Life"|
|1958||Underwater Warrior||Joe O'Brien||Movie, early frogman|
|1958||The Colossus of New York||Dr. Jeremy 'Jerry' Spensser||Movie, brilliant scientist|
|1958||The Court of Last Resort||Phillip Huston||Episode: "The Phillip Huston Case"|
|1958||The Walter Winchell File||Buckner||Episode: "Portrait of a Cop: File #27"|
|1959||Naked City||Carlo||Episode: "Ten Cent Dreams"|
|1959||Sea Hunt||Finch||Episode: "The Dam"|
|1959||Sea Hunt||USCG Captain Stevens||Episode: "The Briefcase"|
|1959||Steve Canyon||Aly Brahma||Episode: "Room 313"|
|1959-60||Mr. Lucky||Andamo||34 episodes|
|1960||Laramie||Angel||Episode: "A Sound of Bells"|
|1960||The Twilight Zone||Johnny||Episode: "The Four of Us Are Dying"|
|1961||The Law and Mr. Jones||Frank Brody||Episode: "The Enemy"|
|1961||87th Precinct||Joe Czepreghi||Episode: "Occupation: Citizen"|
|1962||Experiment in Terror||Garland Humphrey 'Red' Lynch|
|1963||The Twilight Zone||Lt. Ted Mason||Episode: "Death Ship"|
|1963||Bonanza||Nick Biancci||Episode: "Little Man... Ten Feet Tall"|
|1963||The Ceremony||Le Caq|
|1964||Vacation Playhouse||Claudie Hughes||Episode: "I and Claudie"|
|1965||The Man from Button Willow||Andy Svenson||Voice|
|1965||The Great Race||Baron Rolfe von Stuppe|
|1965-69||The Wild Wild West||Artemus Gordon||95 episodes|
|1970||The Immortals||Eddie Yoman||Episode: " White Elephants Don't Grow on Trees"|
|1970||Swing Out, Sweet Land||Alexander Hamilton||Television special|
|1971||The Sheriff||Larry Walters||Television movie|
|1971||Columbo||Dale Kingston||Episode: "Suitable for Framing"|
|1971||Night Gallery||Mr. Gingold||Episode: "Camera Obscura"|
|1972||The F.B.I.||George Barrows||Episode: "The Wizard"|
|1972||ABC Afterschool Special||Stan||Episode: "The Last of the Curlews"|
|1973||Tenafly||Grady Hall||Episode: "Joyride to Nowhere"|
|1973||Ironside||Arthur Damien||Episode: "Mind for Murder"|
|1973||Night Gallery||Bradley Meredith||Episode: "The Other Way Out"|
|1974||Skyway to Death||Martin Leonard||Television movie|
|1974||Barnaby Jones||Maxwell Imry||Episode: "Friends Till Death"|
|1975||The Invisible Man||Amb Diego Devega||Episode: "The Fine Art of Diplomacy"|
|1975||Ellery Queen||Dr. Otis Tremaine||Episode: " The Adventure of the Pharaoh's Curse"|
|1976||Gemini Man||Carl Victor||Episode: "Minotaur"|
|1976||Sanford and Son||Aram||Episode: "California Crude"|
|1977||Blansky's Beauties||Sheik Ben-Ali||Episode: "Nancy Goes Sheik"|
|1977||Charlie's Angels||Dr. Perine||Episode: "Unidentified Flying Angels"|
|1978||Quark||Zorgon the Malevolent||2 episodes "All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms, Parts 1 & 2"|
|1978||Vega$||Werner Worthmeyer||Episode: "Mother Mishkin"|
|1978-79||Hawaii Five-O||Tony Alika||5 episodes|
|1979||The Return of Mod Squad||Buck Prescott||Television movie|
|1979||The Seekers||Supply Pleasant||Television movie|
|1980||The Love Boat||Tom Thornton||Episode: "April's Love/Happy Ending/We Three"|
|1980||Fantasy Island||Ace Scanlon||Episode: "The Devil and Mandy Breem/The Millionaire"|
|1981||Mork & Mindy||Godfrey||Episode: "Mork and the Bum Rap"|
|1983||I Married Wyatt Earp||Jacob Spiegler||Television movie
- He also played "Sal Matzi" on "The Fuse", the January 5, 1959 episode of "Peter Gunn".
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