Martin Balsam

Martin Balsam

Martin Balsam in trailer for The Carpetbaggers (1964)
Born Martin Henry Balsam
(1919-11-04)November 4, 1919
Bronx, New York City, New York, U.S.
Died February 13, 1996(1996-02-13) (aged 76)
Rome, Italy
Cause of death Stroke
Resting place Cedar Park Cemetery in Emerson, New Jersey, U.S.
Alma mater DeWitt Clinton High School
Occupation Actor
Years active 1947–95
Spouse(s) Pearl Somner (1952–54)
Joyce Van Patten (1957–62; 1 child)
Irene Miller (1963–87; 2 children)
Children Talia Balsam, born 1959
Adam Balsam
Zoe Balsam

Martin Henry Balsam (November 4, 1919 – February 13, 1996)[1] was an American actor. 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 (1979 - 1983).

Early life

Martin 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.[2][3] He attended DeWitt Clinton High School, where he participated in the drama club.[2] 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.


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.[4] During World War II he served as a sergeant radio operator in a B-24 in the China-Burma-India theater of operations.[5]

In early 1948, he was selected by Elia Kazan to be a member in the recently formed Actors Studio.[6] Balsam would go 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".

Balsam appeared in such 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.

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, Martin 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). In 1968, 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.

Balsam played Washington Post editor Howard Simons in All the President's Men (1976).[7] and a film that eventually became a highly popular Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode, the Joe Don Baker police drama Mitchell (1975). He 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. 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 4th and final season.[8] He even filled in for Charles Nelson Reilly on Match Game for one question when Reilly was late for a taping.


Year Title Role Notes
1949 Suspense Abramson
1949–50 Actors Studio Soldier 4 episodes
1950 Danger 2 episodes
1951 The Living Christ Series Innkeeper Miniseries
The Big Story Bill Pinney
Frontiers of Faith
1952 The Living Bible Nobleman
1953 Man Against Crime Tony/Jean Pinay
Valiant Lady Joey Gordon
1954 On the Waterfront Gillette, Secondary Investigator for Crime Commission Uncredited role
The Greatest Gift Harold Matthews #2
Inner Sanctum Mystery Wesley/Hanson/Larkin 3 episodes
1954–55 Philco Television Playhouse Charlie Malick/Mike Galloway 3 episodes
1954–56 Goodyear Television Playhouse Perkins/Walter Gregg 3 episodes
1955 The United States Steel Hour Petty Officer
1957 12 Angry Men Juror #1
Time Limit Sargeant Baker
1957–58 Studio One Francis Toohey/Ed Coyne 3 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 Mantell 3 episodes
Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse Gambetta/Dr. Gillespie 2 episodes
1958–60 Have Gun - Will Travel Marshall Jim Brock/Charles Dawes 2 episodes
1959 Rawhide Father Fabian
Al Capone Mac Keeley
The Further Adventures of Ellery Queen 2 episodes
Middle of the Night Jack
Brenner Arnold Joplin
The DuPont Show of the Month Charlie Davis
Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater Sam Butler
Winterset Garth
The Twilight Zone Danny Weiss Episode: "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine"
1959–62 Naked City Captain Russell Barris/Joseph Creeley/Caldwell Wyatt/Arnold Fleischman 4 episodes
1960 Five Fingers Monteverdi
Goodyear Theater Joe Lane
The Robert Herridge Theater
Sunday Showcase Nicola Sacco
Psycho Detective Milton Arbogast
Tutti a casa Sergenti 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
1961–64 The Defenders District Attorney/Bernard Maxwell/Floyd Harker 4 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
1962–66 Dr. Kildare Dr. Milton Orliff/Benny Orloff/Ned Lacey 7 episodes
1963 Route 66 Mike
The Eleventh Hour Frank Dunlear
The Twilight Zone Martin Lombard Senescu Episode: "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
Suspense Detective Jack Gross
The Carpetbaggers Bernard B. Norman
Youngblood Hawke Cameo Appearance Uncredited role
Mr. Broadway Nate Bannerman
1965 ITV Play of the Week Doc Delaney
The Man from U.N.C.L.E Albert Sully Episode: "The Odd Man Affair"
Harlow Everett Redman
The Bedford Incident Lieutenant Commander Chester Potter, M.D. U.S.N
A Thousand Clowns Arnold won Academy Award for best supporting actor
1966 Caccia alla volpe Harry Granoff
"Anyone Around My Base Is It" Narrator Short Documentary
1967 The Fugitive Andrew Newmark
Hombre Mendez
Among the Paths to Eden Ivor Belli
1968 The Name of the Game Angie
Around the World of Mike Todd Michael Todd TV Movie / Documentary; Voice role
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 Killing Wade Hamilton TV Movie
Catch-22 Colonel Cathcart Group Commander, 256th Bomb Group
Tora! Tora! Tora! Admiral Husband E. Kimmel
The Old Man Who Cried Wolf Stanley Pulska
The Name of the Game Angie / 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 Terror Captain Caleb Sark TV Movie
The Infamous Column
1973 A Brand New Life Jim Douglas TV Movie
The Six Million Dollar Man Dr. Rudy Wells TV 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 Burn TV Movie
Police Story Detective Al Koster
1974 The Taking of Pelham One Two Three Harold "Green" Longman
Trapped Beneath the Sea T.C. Hollister TV Movie
Kojak Ray Kaufman
Murder on the Orient Express Bianchi
1975 Miles to Go Before I Sleep Ben Montgomery TV Movie
Smiling Maniacs Carlo Goja
Death Among Friends Ham Russell Buckner TV Movie
Cry, Onion! Petrus Lamb
Mitchell James Arthur Cummings
Season for Assassins Commissioner Katroni
1976 The Lindbergh Kidnapping Case Edward J. Reilly TV 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 Cooper TV Movie
1977 The Sentinel Professor Ruzinsky
Silver Bears Joe Fiore
Contract on Cherry Street Captain Ernie Weinberg
The Storyteller Ira Davidoff TV Movie
Blood and Diamonds Rizzo
1978 Eyes Behind the Stars Inspector Jim Grant
Siege Henry Fancher TV Movie
Rainbow Louis B. Mayer TV Movie
The Millionaire Arthur Haines TV Movie
The Joe Franklin Show Himself Television interview
A Salute to American Imagination Himself TV Movie / Documentary
1979 The Seeding of Sarah Burns Dr. Samuel Melman TV Movie
Gardenia Salluzzo
The House on Garibaldi Street Isser Harel TV Movie
Aunt Mary Harry Strasburg TV Movie
Cuba General Bello
1980 The Love Tapes David Franklin
There Goes the Bride Elmer Babcock
The Warning Questore Martorana
1981 The Salamander Captain Steffanelli
The People vs. Jean Harris Joel Aurnou TV Movie
1982 Quincy, M.E. Hyam Sigerski
Little Gloria... Happy at Last Nathan Burkan TV Movie
Night of 100 Stars Himself TV Special
1983 I Want to Live! Jack Brady TV Movie
Cold Storage Parmigian TV Movie
1984 The Goodbye People Max Silverman
Innocent Prey Sheriff Virgil Baker
1985 Space Senator Glancey Miniseries
St. Elmo's Fire Mr. Beamish
Murder in Space Alexander Rostov TV Movie
Death Wish 3 Bennett
Great Performances Jack
Glitter Bo
1986 La piovra 2 Frank Carrisi Miniseries; 5 episodes
The Delta Force Ben Kaplan
Whatever It Takes Hap Perchicksky
Second Serve Dr. Beck TV Movie
Murder, She Wrote Edgar Carmody Episodes: "Death Stalks The Big Top" Parts 1 & 2
The Twilight Zone Professor Donald Knowles Segment: "Voices in the Earth"
1987 Hotel Dr. Gilbert Holt
Queenie Marty TV miniseries
P.I. Private Investigations Cliff Dowling
The Twilight Zone Rockne O'Bannon Segment: "Personal Demons"
Brothers in Blood Major Briggs
Kids Like These Grandpa TV Movie
Once Again TV Movie
1988 The Child Saver Sidney Rosenberg TV Movie
The Brother from Space Father Howard
1989 Ocean (TV series) Don Matias Quintero TV miniseries
1990 Two Evil Eyes Mr. Pym (segment "The Black Cat")
Midnight Caller Gil Solarski
La piovra 5 – Il cuore del problema Don Calogero Barretta
1991 Ľultima meta Lawyer
Cape Fear Judge
1992 The Sands of Time TV Movie
1993 "The Black Cat" Movie Short
1994 The Silence of the Hams Detective Martin Balsam
1995 Soldato ignoto English meaning: Unknown Soldier
1997 Legend of the Spirit Dog Gramps Released posthumously on August 19, 1997, 9 months after his death, (Last appearance)


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.[2]


On February 13, 1996, Balsam died of a sudden stroke in his hotel room in Rome, Italy, while on vacation. He was 76. Balsam is interred at Cedar Park Cemetery, in Emerson, New Jersey.[11] He was survived by his three children and Renee Landau, his companion.[2]


National Board of Review

Academy Awards

Tony Awards

Golden Globe Awards

BAFTA Awards

Primetime Emmy Awards


  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. 1 2 3 4 The New York Times, February 14, 1996: "Martin Balsam Is Dead at 76; Ubiquitous Character Actor" Retrieved 2012-06-15
  3. Great Character Actors
  4. Ian Herbert, ed. (1981). "BALSAM, Martin". Who's Who in the Theatre. 1. Gale Research Company. pp. 39–40. ISSN 0083-9833.
  6. 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.
  7. All the President's Men (1976)
  8. Martin Balsam Filmography
  9. Martin Balsam Filmography at the Internet Movie Database
  10. Martin Balsam Self Appearances at the Internet Movie Database
  11. "Sometimes the Grave Is a Fine and Public Place". New York Times. March 28, 2004.
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