Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Martin Balsam

Martin Balsam was a character actor of the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

He was born Martin Henry Balsam on November 4, 1919 in The Bronx, New York to Lillian Weinstein and Albert Balsam, a manufacturer of ladies sportsware.

During high school, Martin Balsam was a member of the Drama Club. He later studied at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York under German director Erwin Piscator.

Martin Balsam made his Broadway debut in 1941 in Ghost for Sale.

He put his acting career on hold and joined the Army Air Forces during World War II.

After the war, he returned to Broadway and appeared in such productions as The Wanhope Building, Macbeth, and Sunbeach Down. He also appeared during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s in such productions as The Liar, The Rose Tattoo, Camino Real, Nowhere to Go But Up. In 1968, he won the Tony award for Best Actor for You Know I Can't Hear You When The Water is Running.

In 1947, Martin Balsam was selected by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg to be a player in the Actors Studio television program. He made his television debut in 1949 on an episode of Suspense. His television credits would include The Twilight Zone, The Eleventh Hour, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Rawhide, Route 66, Kojak, Wagon Train, The Six Million Dollar Man, and Murder She Wrote.

In the 1980s, he played Archie Bunker's (Carroll O'Connor) partner on Archie Bunker's Place.

In 1954, Martin Balsam made his silver screen debut as Gillette in On The Waterfront.

Martin Balsam appeared in movies such as 12 Angry Men (1957), Psycho (1960), Ada (1961), Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), Cape Fear (1962), The Carpetbaggers (1964), A Thousand Clowns (1966) Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), All The President's Men (1976), Death Wish 3 (1985), St. Elmo's Fire (1985), and Cape Fear (1991).

Martin Balsam would win the Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for A Thousand Clowns (1966).

Martin Balsam was married three times. His first wife was Pearl Somner (1954-1956, divorced). He next married Joyce Van Patton (1959-1961, divorced). He next married Irene Miller and they were married 33 years until his death.

Martin Balsam with actress Joyce Van Patton, had one daughter actress Talia Balsam.

He is the father of Adam and Zoe Balsam from his marriage to Irene Miller.

Martin Balsam died on February 13, 1996 at the age of 76 of a heart attack.