The star of TV’s The F.B.I. and 77 Sunset Strip had scores of big- and small-screen credits in a career that spanned more than 60 years. Efrem Zimbalist Jr died today at his ranch in Solvang, CA. He was 95. “We are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father,” his family said in a statement. “A devout Christian, he actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf, and visiting with close friends. We will miss him dearly.” He also was the embodiment of cool. He had numerous roles before and after, but Zimbalist is best remembered for the ABC dramas 77 Sunset Strip, which ran from 1958-64, and The F.B.I., which spanned 1965-74. On the latter he played Inspector Lewis Erskine, the Bureau’s calm but persistent agent who always got his man. He toplined Sunset Strip as Stuart Bailey, a judo-chopping private eye whose work took him to some of the planet’s most glamorous spots. The New York native started his career on the stage after World War II, in which he earned a Purple Heart with the Army. He had supporting roles in a number of Broadway shows before he started to land TV work in the mid-’50s. The exposure led Zimbalist to roles in a handful of films during through the late ’50s, along with a recurring gig as a suave con man on Maverick with James Garner and Jack Kelly. During his nearly uninterrupted ensuing run as one of ABC’s leading men, he starred in such feature films as The Chapman Report and Harlow and played the husband of a blind woman (Audrey Hepburn) tormented by thugs in her apartment in Wait Until Dark.After The F.B.I. ended its nine-year run in 1974, Zimbalist starring in Airport ’75 before focusing on TV for the rest of his career. He co-starred in the 1980 miniseries Scruples, played a senator on The Love Boat and recurred on Remington Steele, which starred his daughter, Stephanie Zimbalist, and Pierce Brosnan. He later did arcs on the dramas Hotel and Zorro. By the early ’90s his career had taken a turn: In his mid-70s, Zimbalist began doing voice work, ranging from Alfred in Batman: The Animated Series to Iron Man and Spider-Man. He reprised his role as Alfred the butler in The New Batman Adventures and episodes of Superman and Justice League.
R.I.P. Efrem Zimbalist Jr
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