Michael Ansara

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Michael Ansara
Michael Ansara Law of the Plainsman 1959.JPG
Michael Ansara in Law of the Plainsman (1959)
Born(1922-04-15)April 15, 1922
DiedJuly 31, 2013(2013-07-31) (aged 91)
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, U.S.
EducationA.A. from Los Angeles City College
Alma mater Los Angeles City College
Years active1944–2001
Known for
Notable work
Home town Lowell, Massachusetts
Height6 ft 3 in (1.90 m)
Jean Byron
(m. 1955;div. 1956)

Barbara Eden
(m. 1958;div. 1974)

Beverly Kushida
(m. 1977;his death 2013)
Awards Hollywood Walk of Fame, Western Heritage Award, Saturn Award

Michael George Ansara (April 15, 1922 – July 31, 2013) was an American stage, screen, and voice actor. He portrayed Cochise in the television series Broken Arrow , Kane in the 1979–1981 series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century , Commander Kang in three different Star Trek television series, Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart in the NBC series Law of the Plainsman , and provided the voice for Mr. Freeze in Batman: The Animated Series and several of its spin-offs. [1] [2]

Voice acting act of doubling a character in an animated movie or to voice-over

Voice acting is the art of performing voice-overs or providing voices to represent a character or to provide information to an audience or user. Examples include animated, off-stage, off-screen or non-visible characters in various works, including feature films, dubbed foreign language films, animated short films, television programs, commercials, radio or audio dramas, comedy, video games, puppet shows, amusement rides, audiobooks and documentaries. Voice acting is also done for small handheld audio games.

Actor person who acts in a dramatic or comic production and works in film, television, theatre, or radio

An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.

Cochise Apache tribe chief

Cochise was leader of the Chihuicahui local group of the Chokonen and principal chief of the Chokonen band of the Chiricahua Apache. A key war leader during the Apache Wars, he led an uprising against the U.S. government which began in 1861, and persisted until a peace treaty in 1872. Cochise County, Arizona is named after him.


Early life

Michael George Ansara was born in a small village in the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon, and his family immigrated to the United States when he was two years old. [3] [4] He was of Lebanese descent. [5] They lived in Lowell, Massachusetts, for a decade before moving to California. He originally wanted to be a physician, but developed a passion for becoming a performer after he began taking acting classes to overcome his shyness at Pasadena Playhouse. He was educated at Los Angeles City College, from which Ansara earned an Associate of Arts degree. [3] Ansara served as a medic in the army during World War II. [5]

Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon Former country

The Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon (1923−1946) was a League of Nations mandate founded after the First World War and the partitioning of the Ottoman Empire concerning Syria and Lebanon. The mandate system was supposed to differ from colonialism, with the governing country acting as a trustee until the inhabitants would be able to stand on their own. At that point, the mandate would terminate and an independent state would be born.

Lowell, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Lowell is a city in the U.S. Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Located in Middlesex County, Lowell was a county seat until Massachusetts disbanded county government in 1999. With an estimated population of 109,945 in 2014, it is the fourth-largest city in Massachusetts, and the second-largest in the Boston metropolitan statistical area. The city is also part of a smaller Massachusetts statistical area called Greater Lowell, as well as New England's Merrimack Valley region.

Pasadena Playhouse theater in Pasadena, California, United States

The Pasadena Playhouse is a historic performing arts venue located 39 S. El Molino Avenue in Pasadena, California, United States. The 686-seat auditorium produces a variety of cultural and artistic events, professional shows, and community engagements each year.


Early work

During the 1950s, Ansara appeared in several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents . He appeared in a 1951 episode of The Lone Ranger titled "Trouble at Black Rock." In 1953, he appeared as Pindarus in Joseph Mankiewicz’ big screen adaptation of “Julius Caesar”, with Marlon Brando, James Mason and John Gielgud. However, the popular television series Broken Arrow (1956), wherein he played the lead role of Cochise, raised Ansara's profile and made him a household name. While making the series, the 20th Century-Fox publicity department arranged a date between Ansara and actress Barbara Eden. The two later married and Ansara guest-starred on Eden's I Dream of Jeannie series as the Blue Djinn, who had imprisoned Jeannie in a bottle. He also played King Kamehameha in the Jeannie episode "The Battle of Waikīkī", and in the final season, he played Major Biff Jellico in the episode "My Sister, the Home Wrecker." Michael Ansara and Barbara Eden divorced in 1974. The couple had one son together, actor Matthew Ansara, who died on June 25, 2001, of a heroin overdose.

<i>Alfred Hitchcock Presents</i> American television anthology series

Alfred Hitchcock Presents is an American television anthology series that was created, hosted, and produced by Alfred Hitchcock; the program aired on CBS and NBC between 1955 and 1965. It featured dramas, thrillers, and mysteries. Between 1962 and 1965 it was renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour.

<i>Broken Arrow</i> (TV series) 1956 TV series

Broken Arrow is a Western series which ran on ABC-TV in prime time from 1956 through 1958 on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. Eastern time. Repeat episodes were shown by ABC on Sunday afternoons during the 1959-60 TV season and in an early evening timeslot Sunday evenings from April to September of 1960.

A leading actor, leading actress, star, or simply lead, plays the role of the protagonist of a film, television show or play. The word lead may also refer to the largest role in the piece and leading actor may refer to a person who typically plays such parts or an actor with a respected body of work. Some actors are typecast as leads, but most play the lead in some performances and supporting or character roles in others.

Ansara starred in his own ABC-TV series, Law of the Plainsman (1959–1960), with Gina Gillespie and Robert Harland. He performed as an Apache Indian named Sam Buckhart, who had been appointed as a U.S. Marshal. The series began as an episode of The Rifleman .

American Broadcasting Company American broadcast television network

The American Broadcasting Company (ABC) is an American commercial broadcast television network that is a flagship property of Walt Disney Television, a subsidiary of the Disney Media Networks division of The Walt Disney Company. The network is headquartered in Burbank, California on Riverside Drive, directly across the street from Walt Disney Studios and adjacent to the Roy E. Disney Animation Building, But the network's second corporate headquarters and News headquarters remains in New York City, New York at their broadcast center on 77 West 66th Street in Lincoln Square in Upper West Side Manhattan.

<i>Law of the Plainsman</i> television series

Law of the Plainsman is a Western television series starring Michael Ansara that aired on the NBC television network from October 1, 1959, until May 5, 1960.

Robert Harland Retired actor

Robert "Bob" Harland, is an American actor whose principal work was performed on television in the late 1950s and 1960s. He appeared as a regular in the role of the young investigator Jack Flood on ABC's Target: The Corruptors! (1961–1962), co-starring with Stephen McNally as the syndicated newspaper columnist Paul Marino.

Ansara also played in Biblical epics: The Robe (1953) as Judas Iscariot, The Ten Commandments (1956) as a taskmaster (uncredited), and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) as Herod's commander. He also appeared as Belshazzar in Columbia's 1953 movie Slaves of Babylon .

The term Bible fiction refers to works of fiction which use characters, settings and events taken from the Bible. The degree of fictionalization in these works varies and, although they are often written by Christians or Jews, this is not always the case.

Epic film film genre

Epic films are a style of filmmaking with large scale, sweeping scope, and spectacle. The usage of the term has shifted over time, sometimes designating a film genre and at other times simply synonymous with big-budget filmmaking. Like epics in the classical literary sense it is often focused on a heroic character. An epic's ambitious nature helps to set it apart from other types of film such as the period piece or adventure film.

<i>The Robe</i> (film) 1953 film by Henry Koster

The Robe is a 1953 American Biblical epic film that tells the story of a Roman military tribune who commands the unit that is responsible for the Crucifixion of Jesus. The film was released by 20th Century Fox and was the first film released in the widescreen process CinemaScope. Like other early CinemaScope films, The Robe was shot with Henri Chrétien's original Hypergonar anamorphic lenses.

Later career

In 1961, Ansara played the role of Miguel Alvarez in the film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea , co-starring with Barbara Eden and Walter Pidgeon, who played the role of Admiral Harriman Nelson. Ansara later appeared in an episode of the television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea , playing the rebel sub commander Captain Ruiz in "Killers Of The Deep" (1966). He also appeared in the episode "Hot Line" (broadcast on November 9, 1964) as a Soviet scientist who disarms a defective Soviet atomic satellite that has crashed off the coast of California and he appeared as Carl in the episode "Night Visitors" of the NBC anthology series The Barbara Stanwyck Show .

<i>Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea</i> 1961 film by Irwin Allen

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is a 1961 American science fiction disaster film produced and directed by Irwin Allen and starring Walter Pidgeon as Admiral Harriman Nelson and Robert Sterling as Captain Lee Crane. The supporting cast includes Peter Lorre, Joan Fontaine, Barbara Eden, Michael Ansara, and Frankie Avalon. The story was written by Irwin Allen and Charles Bennett. The opening title credits theme song was sung by Frankie Avalon. The film was distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Walter Pidgeon Canadian actor

Walter Davis Pidgeon was a Canadian-American actor. He earned two Academy Award for Best Actor nominations for his roles in Mrs. Miniver (1942) and Madame Curie (1943). Pidgeon also starred in many films such as How Green Was My Valley (1941), The Bad and the Beautiful (1952), Forbidden Planet (1956), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961), Advise & Consent (1962), Funny Girl (1968), and Harry in Your Pocket (1973).

<i>Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea</i> (TV series) television series

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea is an American science fiction television series based on the 1961 film of the same name. Both were created by Irwin Allen, which enabled the movie's sets, costumes, props, special effects models, and sometimes footage, to be used in the production of the television series. Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was the first of Irwin Allen's four science fiction television series, and the longest-running. The show's theme was underwater adventure.

In 1962, he starred in a Broadway show with the silent film actor Ramon Novarro.

In 1964, he made his only guest appearance on Perry Mason as Vince Kabat in "The Case of the Antic Angel." Also that year, he played the lead character of "Qarlo," the Soldier in an episode of the original The Outer Limits television show. It opened the second season of shows on 19 September 1964 and was written by acclaimed fantasy writer and novelist Harlan Ellison, adapting it from his short story "Soldier from Tomorrow."

He starred in a supporting role in the 1965 Elvis Presley film, Harum Scarum . His wife, Barbara Eden, had starred in an earlier Elvis film, 1960's Flaming Star .

Ansara played the Ruler on episode 22, "The Challenge," of the television series Lost in Space (March 2, 1966) with a young Kurt Russell as his son Quano and, later that same year, appeared in the feature film Texas Across the River with Dean Martin. He also appeared on Daniel Boone as Red Sky in a 1966 episode. In another 1966 episode of that series, Ansara portrayed Sebastian Drake. He played two different characters in two episodes of the 1966 science fiction television series The Time Tunnel , Colonel Hruda in episode #11 and the Curator in episode #28 .

In 1967, Ansara guest-starred in the episode "A War for the Gravediggers" of the NBC western series The Road West starring Barry Sullivan, Andrew Prine, and Glenn Corbett, and in the episode "The Savage Street" of the ABC action drama series The Fugitive with Gilbert Roland and Tom Nardini.

In 1969, Ansara guest-starred in the episode "On a Clear Night You Can See Earth" as Murtrah in the ABC-TV series Land of the Giants . He also starred as the sadistic militant Diego in the film Guns of the Magnificent Seven.

In 1973, he guest-starred in "The Western", the penultimate episode of the original CBS television series Mission: Impossible .

In 1976, Ansara starred in the movie Mohammad, Messenger of God (also titled The Message), about the origin of Islam and the message of prophet Mohammad.

In 1978, he starred in the acclaimed miniseries Centennial , based on the novel by James A. Michener. Ansara played the great Indian leader Lame Beaver, whose descendants are showcased throughout the centuries alongside the growth of the West and the town that the novel and miniseries are named after.

Ansara played Kane in the 1979-1980 season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century .

He narrated Paul Goble's "The Gift of the Sacred Dog" at Crow Agency, Montana, on June 17, 1983, and Sheila MacGill-Callahan's "And Still the Turtle Watched" on October 21, 1993, on the PBS series Reading Rainbow .

In 1988, Ansara appeared in an episode of the television series Murder, She Wrote titled "The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel."

In 1994, Ansara portrayed the Technomage Elric in the science fiction television series Babylon 5 in the episode "The Geometry of Shadows."

In recent years, he performed voice-acting as Mr. Freeze in Batman: The Animated Series , as well as the animated film Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero , an episode of both The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond and the video game Batman: Vengeance .

Star Trek

He is one of nine actors to play the same character (in his case the Klingon commander Kang) on three Star Trek television series the original series ("Day of the Dove"), Deep Space Nine ("Blood Oath") and Voyager ("Flashback").

Awards and honors

Ansara was nominated for a Saturn Award, and has won a Western Heritage Award for Rawhide. [6]

On February 8, 1960, Ansara received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in the television industry, located at 6666 Hollywood Boulevard. [7] [8]

Personal life

Wife Barbara Eden and their son Matthew (1966) Barbara Eden and son Matthew Ansara 1966.JPG
Wife Barbara Eden and their son Matthew (1966)

Ansara was married three times, first to actress Jean Byron in 1955; the couple divorced in 1956. In 1958, Ansara married Barbara Eden, who is best known for starring in I Dream of Jeannie . In 1961, Michael and Barbara both co-starred in Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea . [9] [ better source needed ] The couple had a son named Matthew Ansara born in 1965. Ansara and Eden divorced in 1974, and he married actress Beverly Kushida in 1977. [10] On June 25, 2001, his son Matthew died from a drug overdose in Monrovia, California. Ansara was a Greek Orthodox Christian. [11] [12] [13]


Ansara died from complications of Alzheimer's disease [14] at his home in Calabasas on July 31, 2013, at the age of 91. [15] His interment is at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, next to his son Matthew. [16]

TV and filmography

1978 Dr. Strange Ancient One (voice)TV Movie
1998 Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero Dr. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze (voice) Direct-to-video
1999 Batman Beyond: The Movie Dr. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze (voice)TV Movie
1968 Star Trek: The Original Series KangEpisode: "Day of the Dove"
1981 Thundarr the Barbarian Vashtar (voice)Episode: "Prophecy of Peril"
1981 Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Hiawatha Smith (voice)Episode: "Quest of the Red Skull"
1986 Rambo: The Force of Freedom General Warhawk (voice)63 Episodes
1994 Babylon 5 ElricEpisode: "The Geometry of Shadows"
1992-1994 Batman: The Animated Series Mr. Freeze / Dr. Victor Fries (voice)2 Episodes
1994-1996 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Jeyal / KangEpisodes: "Blood Oath" and "The Muse"
1996 Star Trek: Voyager KangEpisode: "Flashback"
1997 The New Batman Adventures Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze (voice)Episode: "Cold Comfort"
1999 Batman Beyond Episode: "Meltdown"

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  1. Eden, Barbara; Leigh, Wendy (2011). Jeannie Out of the Bottle. New York City: Crown Publishing Group. ISBN   978-0307886958.
  2. Radical Citizenship. Working Papers for a New Society. 2–3. London: Cambridge Policy Studies Institute, & Bouchier. 1974. p. 28.
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