Ross Martin

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Ross Martin
Ross Martin 1967.JPG
Martin in 1967
Born
Martin Rosenblatt

(1920-03-22)March 22, 1920
DiedJuly 3, 1981(1981-07-03) (aged 61)
Cause of deathHeart attack
Resting placeMount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery
Alma materCity College of New York
George Washington University
OccupationActor
Years active1951-1981
Spouse(s)Muriel Weiss (1941-1965 (her death)) 1 daughter
Olavee Parsons (1967-1981 (his death))

Ross Martin (born Martin Rosenblatt, March 22, 1920 – July 3, 1981) was an 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.

Early life[edit]

Martin was born to a Polish Jewish family in Gródek, Poland. He and his parents emigrated to New York City when he was an infant.[1] Recorded as Izak and Sara Rosenblat and infant son Marcus, they boarded the steamship New Rochelle at Danzig, which was then a Free City under the League of Nations; the ship sailed on 29 August 1920 and arrived at the Port of New York on 18 September. As they were steerage passengers they were obliged to go to Ellis Island to undergo U.S. Immigrant Inspection. They settled in The Bronx. Martin spoke Polish, Yiddish and some Russian before learning English and later added French, Spanish and Italian to his repertoire.

Martin attended City College of New York where he graduated magna cum laude. He later earned a law degree from George Washington University.[1]

Career[edit]

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. He was also a regular on Stump the Stars from 1962-1963.

The Wild Wild West[edit]

Martin as Artemus Gordon with Ann Elder in The Wild, Wild West, 1966.
Martin in 1965

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.[2]

Later career[edit]

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. He also appeared in a 1970 episode of The Immortal ("White Elephants Don't Grow on Trees"). The following year, Martin tried his hand at directing. He guest starred in the 1971 episode of Columbo entitled "Suitable For Framing", 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.[3] 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 four-episode recurring role as kumu mobster Tony Alika on Hawaii Five-O from 1978-79. In 1980 Martin appeared in the third season of The Love Boat as Tom Thorton.[4] Martin's final role was in the 1983 television movie I Married Wyatt Earp. The film aired two years after his death.

Personal life[edit]

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. (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.

Death[edit]

On July 3, 1981, Martin suffered a fatal heart attack after a game of tennis at a club in Ramona, California.[1] It was not unexpected; Martin had known that he had a serious heart condition since he first suffered a heart attack at the age of 48 in 1968.

He is interred in Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles, California.

TV and filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
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"
1950-1955 Treasury Men in Action Agent 189 episodes
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"
1954-1956 The Big Story William Fernandez 3 episodes
1955-1957 Modern Romances' 6 episodes
1955 Conquest of Space Andre Fodor
1956 Sheriff of Cochise Episode: "The Check Artist"
1957 The Alcoa Hour Tony Episode: "A Double Life"
1958 Underwater Warrior Sgt. 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 Gunsmoke Dan Clell Episode: "Bottleman"
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 One Step Beyond Paul Marlin Episode: "Echo"
1959-1960 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"
1961 Zorro Marcos Estrada Episode: "Auld Acquaintance"
1962 Experiment in Terror Garland Humphrey 'Red' Lynch
1962 Geronimo Mangus
1963 Wagon Train Sam Pulaski Episode: "The Sam Pulaski Story"
1963 The Twilight Zone Lt. Ted Mason Episode: "Death Ship Episode #108"
1963 Bonanza Nick Biancci Episode: "Little Man... Ten Feet Tall"
1963 The Ceremony Le Caq
1963 The Danny Thomas Show Copa Club Musician Season 11, episode 11 "The Two Musketeers"
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
1965-1969 The Wild Wild West Artemus Gordon 95 episodes
1970 The Immortal 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"
1972 The Crooked Hearts Sgt. Daniel Shane Television movie
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"
1978-1979 Hawaii Five-O Tony Alika 4 episodes
1978 Wild and Wooly Otis Bergen TV movie
1979 The Return of Mod Squad Buck Prescott Television movie
1979 The Seekers Supply Pleasant Television movie
1979 The Wild Wild West Revisited Artemus Gordon 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"
1980 More Wild Wild West Artemus Gordon Television movie
1981 Mork & Mindy Godfrey Episode: "Mork and the Bum Rap"
1983 I Married Wyatt Earp Jacob Spiegler Television movie
Released posthumously, (final film role)
  • He also played "Sal Matzi" on "The Fuse", the January 5, 1959 episode of "Peter Gunn".

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Heart attack kills actor Martin". The Bulletin: C–6. 1981-07-06.
  2. ^ "Ross Martin, actor known for TV roles". Associated Press. July 6, 1981.
  3. ^ "Ross Martin Booked For Melody Top 1776," Milwaukee Sentinel, March 19, 1976.
  4. ^ "April's Love/Happy Ending/We Three" on IMDb

External links[edit]