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Martin Balsam

in Ada (1961)
Born Martin Henry Balsam
November 4, 1919(1919-11-04)
Bronx, New York, U.S.
Died February 13, 1996 (aged 76)
Rome, Italy
Occupation Actor
Years active 1947–1995
Spouse(s) Pearl Somner (1952–1954)
Joyce Van Patten (1959–1962)
Irene Miller (1963–1996)

Martin Henry Balsam (November 4, 1919 – February 13, 1996) was an American actor.


Early life

Balsam was born in The Bronx to Jewish parents Lillian (née Weinstein) and Albert Balsam, who was a manufacturer of ladies sportswear.[1][2] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School, where he participated in the drama club.[3] He studied at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York with the influential German director Erwin Piscator and then served in the United States Army Air Forces during World War II.


Martin Balsam made his professional debut in August 1941 in a production of The Play's the Thing in Locust Valley.[4] In 1947, he was selected by Elia Kazan and Lee Strasberg to be a player in the Actors Studio television program. He appeared in many other television drama series, including The Twilight Zone, as a psychologist in the pilot episode, Five Fingers, Target: The Corruptors!, The Eleventh Hour, Breaking Point, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Mr. Broadway, starring Craig Stevens.

Balsam appeared in such films as On the Waterfront, 12 Angry Men (as Juror #1), Time Limit, Psycho, Cape Fear (1962), Breakfast at Tiffany's, Seven Days in May, The Anderson Tapes, Hombre, Catch-22, Tora! Tora! Tora!, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Two-Minute Warning, The Delta Force, Death Wish 3, The Goodbye People, and the 1991 Martin Scorsese remake of Cape Fear. (Balsam, Gregory Peck, and Robert Mitchum all appeared in both the 1962 and 1991 versions of the film.)

Balsam played Washington Post editor Howard Simons in the 1976 blockbuster All the President's Men.[5] He also appeared in a film that eventually became a highly popular Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, the 1975 Joe Don Baker police drama Mitchell. In 1973, he played Dr. Rudy Wells when the Martin Caidin novel, Cyborg was adapted as the TV-movie, The Six Million Dollar Man, though he did not reprise the role for the subsequent weekly series. In 1965, he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Arnold Burns in A Thousand Clowns. He appeared as a spokesman/hostage in the 1976 TV movie Raid on Entebbe and as a detective in the 1977 TV movie Contract on Cherry Street. 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 (1979–1981). In 1967, he 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.

Personal life

In 1952, Balsam married his first wife, actress Pearl Somner. They divorced two years later. His second wife was actress Joyce Van Patten. This marriage lasted for three years, from 1959 until 1962, and their only child is a daughter, Talia Balsam. He married his third wife, Irene Miller, in 1963.

Balsam died in Rome, Italy, of a heart attack at the age of 76. He is interred at Cedar Park Cemetery, in Emerson, New Jersey.[6] He was survived by Irene Miller and their two children Adam and Zoe, daughter Talia, his brother Warren, and grandson Harry.


National Board of Review -

Academy Awards -

Golden Globe Awards -

BAFTA Awards -

Primetime Emmy Awards -

  • (1977) Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie - Raid on Entebbe (Nominated)


  1. ^ Martin Balsam Is Dead at 76; Ubiquitous Character Actor - New York Times
  2. ^ Great Character Actors
  3. ^ Van Gelder, Lawrence. "Martin Balsam Is Dead at 76; Ubiquitous Character Actor", The New York Times, February 14, 1996. Accessed September 14, 2009. "He grew up on Mosholu Parkway and became involved in theater and music at DeWitt Clinton High School."
  4. ^ Ian Herbert, ed (1981). "BALSAM, Martin". Who's Who in the Theatre. 1. Gale Research Company. p. 39–40. ISSN 0083-9833.  
  5. ^ All the President's Men (1976)
  6. ^ "Sometimes the Grave Is a Fine and Public Place". New York Times. March 28, 2004. "Cedar Park Cemetery in Paramus [sic] tends toward performers. Martin Balsam, who won both a Tony and an Oscar was buried there in 1996. Joe E. Lewis, the comic whose rough life was portrayed by Frank Sinatra in the 1957 movie, The Joker Is Wild, is nearby. (As are two illustrious nonperformers, the Nobel Prize writer Isaac Bashevis Singer and the poet Delmore Schwartz.)"  

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