Martin Balsam

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Martin Balsam
Balsam in the trailer for The Carpetbaggers (1964)
Martin Henry Balsam

(1919-11-04)November 4, 1919
DiedFebruary 13, 1996(1996-02-13) (aged 76)
Rome, Italy
Resting place Cedar Park Cemetery, Emerson, New Jersey, U.S.
Years active1947–1995
Pearl Somner
(m. 1952;div. 1954)

Joyce Van Patten
(m. 1957;div. 1962)

Irene Miller
(m. 1963;div. 1987)
Children3, including Talia Balsam

Martin Henry Balsam (November 4, 1919 – February 13, 1996) [1] was an American character actor. [2] [3] He is best known for a number of renowned film roles, including detective Milton Arbogast in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), Arnold Burns in A Thousand Clowns (1965) (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Juror #1 in 12 Angry Men (1957), and Mr. Green in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (1974), as well as for his role as Murray Klein in the television sitcom Archie Bunker's Place (19791983).

Alfred Hitchcock British filmmaker

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock was an English film director and producer, widely regarded as one of the most influential and widely studied filmmakers in the history of cinema. Known as "the Master of Suspense", he directed over 50 feature films in a career spanning six decades, becoming as well known as any of his actors thanks to his many interviews, his cameo roles in most of his films, and his hosting and producing of the television anthology Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1965).

<i>Psycho</i> (1960 film) 1960 horror film by Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho is a 1960 American psychological horror film directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and written by Joseph Stefano. It stars Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, John Gavin, Vera Miles, and Martin Balsam, and was based on the 1959 novel of the same name by Robert Bloch. The film centers on an encounter between a secretary, Marion Crane (Leigh), who ends up at a secluded motel after stealing money from her employer, and the motel's owner-manager, Norman Bates (Perkins), and its aftermath.

<i>A Thousand Clowns</i> 1965 film adaptation from a 1962 play by Herb Gardner

A Thousand Clowns is a 1965 American comedy-drama film directed by Fred Coe and starring Jason Robards, Barbara Harris, Martin Balsam, and Barry Gordon. An adaptation of a 1962 play by Herb Gardner, it tells the story of an eccentric comedy writer who is forced to conform to society to retain legal custody of his nephew.


Early life

Martin Henry Balsam was born 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. [4] [5] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School, where he participated in the drama club. [4] 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 during World War II.

The Bronx Borough in New York City and county in New York, United States

The Bronx is the northernmost of the five boroughs of New York City, in the U.S. state of New York, coterminous with Bronx County, the third-most densely populated county in the United States. It is south of Westchester County; northeast and east of Manhattan, across the Harlem River; and north of Queens, across the East River.

Boroughs of New York City administrative division of New York City

New York City encompasses five county-level administrative divisions called boroughs: The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. All five boroughs are part of New York City, and each borough is coterminous with a respective county. The boroughs of Queens and The Bronx are concurrent with the counties of the same name, while the boroughs of Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island correspond to New York, Kings, and Richmond counties, respectively.

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.


Martin Balsam (r) on the set of Unknown Soldier, 1995 San Marino, Steve Scott and Academy Award Winner Martin Balsam.jpg
Martin Balsam (r) on the set of Unknown Soldier, 1995

Martin Balsam made his professional debut in August 1941 in a production of The Play's the Thing in Locust Valley. [6] During World War II, he served as a sergeant radio operator in a B-24 in the China-Burma-India theater of operations. [3]

The Play's the Thing is a comedic play adapted by P. G. Wodehouse from the 1924 Hungarian play Játék a Kastélyban by Ferenc Molnár. It premiered in 1926 in New York.

Locust Valley, New York Hamlet and census-designated place in New York, United States

Locust Valley is a hamlet and census-designated place (CDP) located in Nassau County, New York. Locust Valley is an unincorporated area of the Town of Oyster Bay. As of the United States 2010 Census, the CDP population was 3,406. The area is commonly identified with its W.A.S.P and "White Shoe" culture surrounding a group of polo and golf clubs, primarily the secretive Piping Rock Club, as well as the equally prestigious Creek Club, in the neighboring incorporated villages of Matinecock and Lattingtown, respectively. The town is also known for Locust Valley lockjaw.

Consolidated B-24 Liberator heavy bomber

The Consolidated B-24 Liberator is an American heavy bomber, designed by Consolidated Aircraft of San Diego, California. It was known within the company as the Model 32, and some initial production aircraft were laid down as export models designated as various LB-30s, in the Land Bomber design category.

In early 1948, he was selected by Elia Kazan to be a member in the recently formed Actors Studio. [7] Balsam went on to perform 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".

Elia Kazan Greek-American film and theatre director, film and theatrical producer, screenwriter, novelist

Elia Kazan was a Greek-American director, producer, writer and actor, described by The New York Times as "one of the most honored and influential directors in Broadway and Hollywood history".

Actors Studio organization for professional actors, theatre directors and playwrights

The Actors Studio is a membership organization for professional actors, theatre directors and playwrights at 432 West 44th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. It was founded on October 5, 1947, by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford and Robert Lewis, who provided training for actors who were members. Lee Strasberg joined later and took the helm in 1951 until his death on February 17, 1982.

Anthology series radio or television series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode

An anthology series is a radio, television, or film series that presents a different story and a different set of characters in each episode, season, segment or short. These usually have a different cast each episode, but several series in the past, such as Four Star Playhouse, employed a permanent troupe of character actors who would appear in a different drama each week. Some anthology series, such as Studio One, began on radio and then expanded to television.

Balsam appeared in such notable films as On the Waterfront , 12 Angry Men (as Juror #1), Time Limit , Breakfast at Tiffany's , The Carpetbaggers , Seven Days in May , The Anderson Tapes , Hombre , Catch-22 , Tora! Tora! Tora! (as Admiral Husband E. Kimmel), Little Big Man , The Taking of Pelham One Two Three , All the President's Men , Murder on the Orient Express , The Delta Force , and The Goodbye People .

<i>On the Waterfront</i> 1954 film by Elia Kazan

On the Waterfront is a 1954 American crime drama film, directed by Elia Kazan and written by Budd Schulberg. It stars Marlon Brando and features Karl Malden, Lee J. Cobb, Rod Steiger, Pat Henning and Eva Marie Saint in her film debut. The soundtrack score was composed by Leonard Bernstein. The film was suggested by "Crime on the Waterfront" by Malcolm Johnson, a series of articles published in November–December 1948 in the New York Sun which won the 1949 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting, but the screenplay by Budd Schulberg is directly based on his own original story. The film focuses on union violence and corruption amongst longshoremen, while detailing widespread corruption, extortion, and racketeering on the waterfronts of Hoboken, New Jersey.

<i>12 Angry Men</i> (1957 film) 1957 American drama film by Sidney Lumet

12 Angry Men is a 1957 American courtroom drama film directed by Sidney Lumet, adapted from a teleplay of the same name by Reginald Rose. This courtroom drama tells the story of a jury of 12 men as they deliberate the conviction or acquittal of a defendant on the basis of reasonable doubt, forcing the jurors to question their morals and values. In the United States, a verdict in most criminal trials by jury must be unanimous. The defendant is an 18-year-old male. There are two witnesses: a lady from across the street and an old man who lives below the defendant.

<i>Time Limit</i> (film) 1957 film directed by Karl Malden

Time Limit is a 1957 legal drama film directed by Karl Malden, based on the Broadway play of the same name written by Henry Denker and Ralph Berkey. The film is Malden's only directing credit; in his autobiography, Malden stated that he "preferred being a good actor to being a fairly good director."

In 1960, he appeared in one of his best-remembered roles as Detective 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) and, in 1968, won a Tony Award for his appearance in the 1967 Broadway production of You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running . 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. [8]

Gregory Peck American actor

Eldred Gregory Peck was an American actor. He was one of the most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s. Peck received five Academy Award for Best Actor nominations, and won once – for his performance as Atticus Finch in the 1962 drama film To Kill a Mockingbird.

Robert Mitchum American film actor, author, composer and singer

Robert Charles Durman Mitchum was an American film actor, director, author, poet, composer, and singer. Mitchum rose to prominence for his starring roles in several classic films noir, and is generally considered a forerunner of the antiheroes prevalent in film during the 1950s and 1960s. His best-known films include Out of the Past (1947), The Night of the Hunter (1955), Cape Fear (1962), and El Dorado (1966). Mitchum was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for The Story of G.I. Joe (1945).

<i>Cape Fear</i> (1962 film) 1962 thriller movie directed by J. Lee Thompson

Cape Fear is a 1962 American neo-noir psychological thriller film starring Robert Mitchum, Gregory Peck, Martin Balsam, and Polly Bergen. It was adapted by James R. Webb from the 1957 novel The Executioners by John D. MacDonald. It was initially storyboarded by Alfred Hitchcock, subsequently directed by J. Lee Thompson, and released on April 12, 1962. The film concerns an attorney whose family is stalked by a criminal he helped to send to jail.

Balsam 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). He also appeared on an episode of Quincy ME . 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. He even filled in for Charles Nelson Reilly on Match Game for one question when Reilly was late for a taping.


1949 Suspense Abramson
1949–1950 Actors Studio Soldier4 episodes
1950 Danger 2 episodes
1951 The Living Christ Series Innkeeper Miniseries
The Big Story Bill Pinney
Frontiers of Faith
1952The Living BibleNobleman
1953 Man Against Crime Tony / Jean Pinay
Valiant Lady Joey Gordon
1954 On the Waterfront Gillette, Secondary Investigator for Crime CommissionUncredited
The Greatest GiftHarold Matthews #2
Inner Sanctum Mystery Wesley / Hanson / Larkin3 episodes
1954–1955 Philco Television Playhouse Charlie Malick / Mike Galloway3 episodes
1954–1956 Goodyear Television Playhouse Perkins / Walter Gregg3 episodes
1955 The United States Steel Hour Petty Officer
1957 12 Angry Men Juror #1
Time Limit Sargeant Baker
1957–1958 Studio One Francis Toohey / Ed Coyne3 episodes
1958 Kraft Television Theatre Dino
Marjorie Morningstar Dr. David Harris
Father Knows Best Teacher
Pursuit Holden
Decoy Nick Santos
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Leonard Thompson
1958–59 Playhouse 90 Sam Gordon / Captain Mantell3 episodes
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Gambetta / Dr. Gillespie2 episodes
1958–1960 Have Gun - Will Travel Marshall Jim Brock / Charles Dawes2 episodes
1959 Rawhide Father Fabian
Al Capone Mac Keeley
The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen 2 episodes
Middle of the Night Jack
BrennerArnold Joplin
The DuPont Show of the Month Charlie Davis
Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater Sam Butler
The Twilight Zone Danny WeissEpisode: "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine"
1959–1962 Naked City Captain Russell Barris / Joseph Creeley / Caldwell Wyatt / Arnold Fleischman4 episodes
1960 Five Fingers Monteverdi
Goodyear TheaterJoe Lane
The Robert Herridge Theater
Sunday Showcase Nicola Sacco
Psycho Detective Milton Arbogast
Tutti a casa Sergeant Quintino Fornaciari
1961 Way Out Bill Clayton
Alfred Hitchcock Presents Elon Marsh
Ada Steve Jackson
Breakfast at Tiffany's O.J. Berman
The New Breed Frank Eberhardt
The Untouchables Barry Leimer
Route 66 Corelli
1961–1964 The Defenders District Attorney / Bernard Maxwell / Floyd Harker4 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 Lacey7 episodes
1963 Route 66 Mike
The Eleventh Hour Frank Dunlear
The Twilight Zone Martin Lombard SenescuEpisode: "The New Exhibit"
Breaking Point Rabbi Eli Oringer
Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed? Sanford Kaufman
1964 Arrest and Trial Leo Valera
Espionage Richard Carey
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Dave Breslaw
Seven Days in May Presidential aide Paul Girard
Wagon Train Marcey Jones
SuspenseDetective Jack Gross
The Carpetbaggers Bernard B. Norman
Youngblood Hawke Cameo AppearanceUncredited
Mr. Broadway Nate Bannerman
1965 ITV Play of the Week Doc Delaney
The Man from U.N.C.L.E Albert SullyEpisode: "The Odd Man Affair"
Harlow Everett Redman
The Bedford Incident Lieutenant Commander Chester Potter, USNR, MD
A Thousand Clowns Arnoldwon Academy Award for best supporting actor
1966 Caccia alla volpe Harry Granoff
"Anyone Around My Base Is It"NarratorShort Documentary
1967 The Fugitive Andrew Newmark
Hombre Mendez
Among the Paths to EdenIvor Belli
1968 The Name of the Game Angie
Around the World of Mike ToddMichael ToddTV movie / Documentary; Voice
1969 Me, Natalie Uncle Harold
The Good Guys and the Bad Guys Mayor Wilker
Trilogy Ivor Belli(segment: "Among the Paths to Eden")
1970 CBS Playhouse Jesse
Hunters Are for KillingWade HamiltonTV movie
Catch-22 Colonel CathcartGroup 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 TerrorCaptain Caleb SarkTV movie
The Infamous Column
1973 A Brand New Life Jim DouglasTV movie
The Six Million Dollar Man Dr. Rudy WellsTV 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 BurnTV movie
Police Story Detective Al Koster
1974 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Harold "Green" Longman
Trapped Beneath the Sea T.C. HollisterTV movie
Kojak Ray Kaufman
Murder on the Orient Express Bianchi
1975Miles to Go Before I SleepBen MontgomeryTV movie
Smiling Maniacs Carlo Goja
Death Among FriendsHam Russell BucknerTV movie
Cry, Onion! Petrus Lamb
Mitchell James Arthur Cummings
Season for Assassins Commissioner Katroni
1976 The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case Edward J. ReillyTV movie
All the President's Men Howard Simons
Maude Chester
Meet Him and Die Giulianelli
Death Rage Commissario
Two-Minute Warning Sam McKeever
Raid on Entebbe Daniel CooperTV movie
1977 The Sentinel Professor Ruzinsky
Silver Bears Joe Fiore
Contract on Cherry Street Captain Ernie Weinberg
The StorytellerIra DavidoffTV movie
Blood and Diamonds Rizzo
1978 Eyes Behind the Stars Inspector Jim Grant
SiegeHenry FancherTV movie
Rainbow Louis B. Mayer TV movie
The MillionaireArthur HainesTV movie
The Joe Franklin ShowHimselfTelevision interview
A Salute to American ImaginationHimselfTV movie / Documentary
1979The Seeding of Sarah BurnsDr. Samuel MelmanTV movie
Gardenia Salluzzo
The House on Garibaldi Street Isser HarelTV movie
Aunt MaryHarry StrasburgTV movie
Cuba General Bello
1979–1983 Archie Bunker's Place Murray Kleinseries regular / guest star; 46 episodes
1980The Love TapesDavid Franklin
There Goes the Bride Elmer Babcock
The Warning Questore Martorana
1981 The Salamander Captain Steffanelli
The People vs. Jean HarrisJoel AurnouTV movie
1982 Quincy, M.E. Hyam Sigerski
Little Gloria... Happy at Last Nathan BurkanTV movie
Night of 100 StarsHimselfTV special
1983 I Want to Live! Jack BradyTV movie
Cold StorageParmigianTV Movie
1984 The Goodbye People Max Silverman
Innocent Prey Sheriff Virgil Baker
1985 Space Senator GlanceyMiniseries
St. Elmo's Fire Mr. Beamish
Murder in Space Alexander RostovTV movie
Death Wish 3 Bennett
Great Performances Jack
Glitter Bo
1986 La piovra , season 2  [ it ]Frank CarrisiMiniseries; 5 episodes
The Delta Force Ben Kaplan
Whatever It TakesHap Perchicksky
Second Serve Dr. BeckTV movie
Murder, She Wrote Edgar CarmodyEpisodes: "Death Stalks The Big Top" Parts 1 & 2
The Twilight Zone Rockne O'BannonSegment: "Personal Demons"
1987 Hotel Dr. Gilbert Holt
Queenie MartyTV miniseries
P.I. Private Investigations Cliff Dowling
The Twilight ZoneProfessor Donald KnowlesSegment: "Voices in the Earth"
Brothers in Blood Major Briggs
Kids Like TheseGrandpaTV movie
Once AgainTV movie
1988The Child SaverSidney RosenbergTV movie
The Brother from Space Father Howard
1989 Ocean Don Matias QuinteroTV miniseries
1990 Two Evil Eyes Mr. Pym(segment "The Black Cat")
Midnight Caller Gil Solarski
La piovra , season 5  [ it ]Don Calogero Barretta
1991Ľultima metaLawyer
Cape Fear Judge
1992The Sands of TimeTV movie
1993"The Black Cat"Movie Short
1994 The Silence of the Hams Detective Martin Balsam
1995Soldato ignotoEnglish meaning: Unknown Soldier
1997Legend of the Spirit DogGrampsReleased posthumously on August 19, 1997, 9 months after his death (final film role)

Personal life

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) and produced 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. [4]


On February 13, 1996, Balsam died of a sudden stroke in his hotel room while vacationing in Rome, Italy. He was 76 years old. He is interred at Cedar Park Cemetery, in Emerson, New Jersey. [9]

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

1966 Best Supporting Actor A Thousand Clowns Won

National Board of Review

Tony Awards

Golden Globe Awards

BAFTA Awards

Primetime Emmy Awards

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  1. "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.
  2. OLIVER, MYRNA (14 February 1996). "Martin Balsam; Veteran Character Actor" via LA Times.
  3. 1 2 Gelder, Lawrence Van (14 February 1996). "Martin Balsam Is Dead at 76; Ubiquitous Character Actor" via
  4. 1 2 3 The New York Times, February 14, 1996: "Martin Balsam Is Dead at 76; Ubiquitous Character Actor" Retrieved 2012-06-15
  5. "Great Character Actors".
  6. Ian Herbert, ed. (1981). "BALSAM, Martin". Who's Who in the Theatre. 1. Gale Research Company. pp. 39–40. ISSN   0083-9833.
  7. Garfield, David (1980). "Birth of The Actors Studio: 1947–50". A Player's Place: The Story of the Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 52. ISBN   0-02-542650-8. 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.
  8. Flahive, Gerry (30 March 2018). "The Story of a Voice: HAL in '2001' Wasn't Always So Eerily Calm" via
  9. "Sometimes the Grave Is a Fine and Public Place". New York Times. March 28, 2004.