A Biography of Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. 1918 -2014
Quick Bio -Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.
Birth Name: Efrem Aleksandrovich Zimbalist, Jr.
Birth Date: November 30, 1918
Parents: Father Efrem Zimbalist, Sr.,(1889-1985 age 95) world famous violinist and composer, and Mother Reba Feinsohn (Alma Gluck 1884-1938 age 54) operatic concertist; Stepmother -Mary Louise Curtis Bok (1876-1970 age 94)
Siblings: Abigail Marcia Glick Davenport (1904-1996 age 92), Maria Zimbalist (1915 -1981 age 66)
Marriages: Emily Munroe McNair (1945-1950 her death), Loranda Stephanie Spaulding (1956-2007 her death, age 74)
Children: with Emily McNair -Efrem Zimbalist III (Chip), Nancy (died 2012);with Loranda Stephanie Spaulding - Stephanie Zimbalist (b. 1956)
Occupation: Actor, TV Host (Word From The Holyland on TBN), Author (My Dinner of Herbs, 2003), Singer, Violinist and Composer (8-part choral 150th Psalm, Zimbalist Sonatas), Producer of Lyric Operas for Gian Carlo Menotti - The Consul (1950 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Music), The Medium (1949), and The Telephone (1949)
Best Known For: his baritone voice, 77 Sunset Strip (Stu Bailey), The F.B.I. (Lewis Erskine), voice of Alfred the butler on Batman:The Animated Series
Died: May 2, 2014, at age 95 of natural causes
1918 - 2014
You may not remember Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s name, but you only had to hear his voice and you placed him instantly. His suave good looks made him a favorite actor for many. Each generation remembers him in a different way - series television, stage plays, movies, the opera.
His baritone voice was instantly recognizable on television and most notably as Alfred the butler on Batman: The Animated Series (FOX 1992-1995), and in Christian circles on The Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) announcing the TBN station identification at the chime every hour (1979-2014), on Christian programs featuring his reading the Bible on TBN and the 700 Club, and as narrator on audio books.
His charismatic good looks made him memorable as an accomplished actor, appearing first on stage and in several movies, but becoming more widely known for his work on television. Two of his television series were extremely popular - 77 Sunset Strip and The F.B.I. Both were much looked forward to in our house, and probably in your house too.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. was a very interesting man who came from an interesting family background, leaving behind a wonderful legacy.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s family announced that he died on Friday, May 2, 2014 of natural causes at his Solvang ranch in Southern California's beautiful horse country. He was 95 years old, active up until the end, playing golf three times per week and attending his church on Sundays. He was apparently watering the lawn and was found lying on the grass by a handyman.
The sidebar mentions how the age of 90 plus years is a theme that runs throughout this article. That age might not seem extraordinary to some readers, but it does to me. :)
Through the years, whenever anyone wrote about Efrem Zimbalist Jr. or introduced him at gatherings, they always used the same terms: suave, handsome, dashing, debonair. And it was true too. He was always well-dressed and his nicely tanned skin made him more handsome.
He was one of those Hollywood stars you never heard a scandal about. You never saw headlines about him causing a scene, being arrested in any nightclubs and you never heard about a mud slinging divorce like you did with other Hollywood stars. That doesn't mean his life didn't have any hiccups, they just weren't front page news.
The following is a video of one of the news services announcing his death:
Death Announcement on TV
Efrem Zimbalist Sr circa 1920
Efrem Sr. & Alma - The Beginning
When his father Efrem Zimbalist Sr. arrived in the United States in 1911, he was much in demand as a violinist, especially with the orchestra at the Metropolitan Opera House. There he met his future wife, the newly named Alma Gluck.
Alma had just been discovered in 1909 and by 1911 she was already on her way to stardom at the Metropolitan Opera, earning an amazing $700 a week. It was an unheard of salary in the days when many US workers were earning less than a dollar a day.
Efrem Sr. became her violin accompanist in 1912 and they fell in love, but Alma was still married to her first husband, Bernard, with whom had a small daughter, Marcia.
Alma's manager and piano accompanist Althea Jewell kept her in singing engagements and recording sessions which paid handsomely, so she could well afford to send her daughter to The Friends School, a private boarding school in Pennsylvania.
Her reported salary for engagements and royalties was over $400,000, making her a very wealthy performer, but also a target in a bitter, much contested divorce from her first husband.
With large sums of money changing hands, Alma got her divorce in 1912, leaving the way for Efrem Sr. and Alma to marry.
However, World War I was going on and the couple were very much in demand to perform at military installations all over the world. Throwing themselves into selling Liberty Bonds, helping with the Red Cross and performing as much as four nights a week, it soon took its toll on Alma's voice while they were in Europe.
Taking some down time, they married June 1914 in London England. It was Efrem Sr.'s first marriage and Alma's second. She was almost six years older than he.
Less than a year later in 1915, their daughter Maria was born but with manager Althea Jewell taking care of her and Marcia safely in a Pennsylvania boarding school, the couple didn't slow down their performances.
Three years later in 1918 when Efrem Jr. was born, Alma decided she wanted to stop traveling. She was feeling the strain on her voice and wanted to keep to performing locally in New York and Philadelphia.
From 1920 to 1924, Alma cut about sixty more recording titles but none were released until after her death, per her instructions. The quality of her voice was gone, she was often physically ill, although there are no mentions as to what was wrong at that time.
Her last public recital was in 1924 at the Metropolitan Opera House, a place that would hold much sentiment for her husband and children long after she was gone.
Alma Gluck - circa 1920's
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. -1956
Efrem Jr.'s Early Years
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. was born Nov. 30, 1918, in New York with what some might call a silver spoon in his mouth.
His father was an internationally famous violinist and composer; his mother was a famous Metropolitan opera concertist (pronounced con-chair-tist), who still holds the world's record of being the only operatic star whose 174 recordings have sold one million records.
(Continued in sidebar)
In 1924, after her retirement, Alma split time between their homes in Connecticut and New York, being a benefactor to other bright hopeful sopranos and musicians, and helping out with musical and community organizations. When daughter Marcia started at Wellesley College in 1923, she decided to elope, giving birth to a daughter a year later in 1924.
Alma traveled rarely to see her husband in concert unless it was in New York. He often brought many guests back to their homes and it was one of the reasons why Alma wanted her children to attend boarding school, fearing the exposure to so many different kinds of people was a bad influence.
Maria was firmly esconced at The Friends School in Pennsylvania, as was Marcia before her. The family now following the Episcopal faith, Alma then sought out the best Episcopalian prep school in Boston for her son, the Fay School, where Efrem Jr. attended until grade nine.
Efrem Jr. would follow the Episcopal faith until 1979 when he embraced the evangelical movement, attending the same church as Pat Boone. He began a lifelong affiliation with the Trinity Broadcast Network (TBN).
With famous parents who were performers, Efrem Jr. was destined for great things but, ... for a short time, he just didn't know what that was going to be.
At the Fay School, Efrem Jr. performed in stage plays, but his father was grooming him to follow in his footsteps by taking training on the violin. He became proficient at violin and composing music with several compositions to his credit.
As had his father and grandfather before him, the family traveled to the Ukraine in the former Soviet Union so Alma and Efrem Sr. could tour western Europe. They boarded Efrem Jr. at a Conservatory in Kiev for one year. He didn't understand a word of Ukrainian. His parents left him very little money because the Russian government confiscated it from travelers. All he wanted to do was get his sister and go to meet his parents in Paris.
His sister Maria had been boarded with a family in Moscow. Hiding whatever little money he had, Efrem Jr. ran off with just the summer clothing of the season. Because the Russian government only allowed people to leave with whatever they amount of money they came into the country with, he and his sister hid their money from Russian officials in order to escape by train from Moscow to Paris.
Returning to the United States, Efrem Jr. was fortunate enough that his parents could well afford two stints at Yale University. Acting seemed to be his calling but getting him to crack down to seriously study acting was another matter because Efrem Jr. was all playboy.
As the heir apparent to wealthy parents, his taste for expensive suits purchased at the best men's shoppes of Hartford and New Haven made him popular at school. Coupled with his baritone voice, he easily won over the ladies but he had no interest in the curriculum or in getting a job to support his extravagant lifestyle. The clothing bills he sent home to be paid didn't win over his parents either.
His big-spender days were over after being expelled from Yale a second time; it was time to get serious about his direction in life.
At age 19, he found work as a musician with his father in New York and Philadelphia, where his father had taken a position at the famous Curtis Institute of Music. He let music fall to the sidelines for a time, but never far out of sight.
A year later in 1938, Alma was seriously ill and dying with liver disease. She had been suffering with a deadly form of cirrhosis of the liver (non-alcoholic too) for over seven years and only close family members knew about it.
The 1930 NYC census reports show that Efrem Sr and Alma Zimbalist resided at 237 East 49th Street in Manhattan, New York. It would be Alma's last residence.
Efrem Jr.'s sister Maria, at age 23, was engaged to marry Ogden Goelet, heir of the second wealthiest family in the world. She wanted her mother to see her get married, so they were married in the Zimbalist home on April 19, 1938. It was not a happy marriage because Ogden's family controlled his fortune and the couple had to rely on an allowance for support. They divorced in 1941. To bring you up to speed, Maria Zimbalist Goelet married a man from Philadelphia, Henry F Bennett on October 12, 1942. She died in Reno Nevada in 1981 at the age of 66.
Six months after Maria's wedding to Ogden Goelet, Alma died on October 27, 1938 at age 54 of liver failure. She is buried in Town Hill Cemetery in New Hartford, Litchfield County, Connecticut near the family's summer home. Efrem Jr. was almost 20 years old and had a few regrets after his mother died.
- Efrem Jr. says in his book "My Dinner of Herbs" that because of his playboy ways and throwing away a good education at Yale, he felt a great sadness that his mother never lived to see any of his success and that he "regrets she died knowing he was a screwup."
Interesting Trivial for the Trivia-Minded Reader™
ƒ Efrem Sr. married twice and both times to very accomplished women who left their mark on society. Both women were older than he, and both came into the marriage with children, which made for a very interesting extended family for Efrem Jr.
ƒ Efrem Sr.'s second wife was equally impressive, especially her family tree. It is through her that we see a connection to the Ladies' Home Journal magazine and the prestigious Curtis Institute of Music both of which became important establishments in our society through the 20th century.
ƒ The age of 90 plus years is a theme you may have noticed in several places in this article.
- Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. died at age 94 and his father,
- Efrem Zimbalist Sr. died in 1985 when he was also nearly 94 years old.
- Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s stepmother lived to be 94.
- Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s half-sister lived to be 92.
ƒ Efrem Zimbalist Jr. produced several of Gian Carlo Menotti's operas on Broadway and was a lifelong supporter of the Metropolitan Opera where his mother had performed.
- Menotti died in 2007 at the age of 95.
ƒ Efrem Jr. played tennis with Jack Warner, head of Warner Brothers and often joked that playing tennis with him was what kept acting parts coming his way.
ƒ Efrem Jr. is one of the few Hollywood actors who never had a scandal around him. (that we know of).
ƒ Studied Transcendental Meditation for 9 years under the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and found it a total waste of time.
ƒ His voice can be heard on station breaks and announcements on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and other fundamentalist church programs. He refers to those years as the years he went overboard in his fundamentalist associations. He was raised Episcopalian and died an Episcopalian, returning to his faith in the mid-1980s.
ƒ Due to his portrayal Lewis Erskine on The F.B.I., there was a surge of applicants to the F.B.I. Bureau.
Efrem Jr. - From Soldier to Actor
In 1941 Efrem Jr. was hired as a page for NBC radio in New York City, hoping to get work by going on lots of auditions, but his aspirations of a career were cut short when he got drafted in the Army Infantry for World War II. He returned home over four years later with Purple Heart Medal for a shrapnel wound in his leg.
While he was away, his father married for the second time in 1943 to Mary Louise Curtis Bok, heir to the Curtis Publishing Company and founder of the Curtis Institute of Music where he was the Director. She had two sons; one was a Philadelphia Judge and the other was a diamond trader and owner of the Deepdene Diamonds. Her mother started the Ladies' Home Journal magazine and she would be the catalyst to keep the magazine published until her death in 1970. Her school, The Curtis Institute of Music was like a home to the Zimbalist family as they sponsored each new protégé, helped produce opera on Broadway (never done before in a stage performance until Menotti) and the endowment this school received when she died supported many graduating talents.
While he was in the Army, Efrem Jr. met actor-producer Garson Kanin and theirs was a friendship that would get his start in show business.
After serving in WW II, in 1945, Efrem Jr. enrolled to study acting at the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York City. In November 1945, he made his stage debut in New York as reporter Gil Hartnick in "The Rugged Path" directed by his friend Garson Kanin.
Efrem starred next to Spencer Tracy. This play ran until January 1946 at the Plymouth Theatre. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. married his first wife, Emily Munroe McNair, daughter of Captain Laurence McNair U.S.N., on December 22, 1945 at Church of the Transfiguration, a Catholic church in Annapolis, Maryland.
1946 was a busy year for the actor, simultaneously appearing in three plays, two at the same theater. November 1946 brought the part of the Duke of Suffolk in the play "King Henry VIII" which ran until February 1947 at the International Theatre. November 1947 he played in an ensemble cast in "What Every Woman Knows" which ran until February 1947.
1947, 1948 and 1949 found him cast in several plays - Androcles and the Lion, Yellow Jack, A Pound on Demand, and Hedda Gabler (appearing with his new wife, Emily).
Gian Carlo Menotti
Gian Carlo Menotti, a famous composer and opera singer, was given a letter of introduction to The Curtis Institute of Music by Arturo Toscanini, who had also introduced Efrem's mother Alma to the Metropolitan Opera. Menotti studied at The Curtis Institute of Music at the same time as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Barber. He later taught there as well.
In 1974, Menotti adopted an adult actor and figure skater Francis "Chip" Phelan (born 1938) who had been appearing as a mime in Gian Carlo's operatic performances. When Menotti died, he became sole heir to his vast fortune, Yester Castle in Scotland (which he sold in 2010 to Lady Gaga), homes in Monaco and Philadelphia, his copyrights and royalties. He changed his name to Menotti shortly after his adoption. In 1985, Chip married Malinda Fitler Murphy, the daughter of Happy Rockefeller (widow of Nelson) and Dr. James Murphy. They had two sons and Malinda died in 2005.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. produced several of Menotti's operas on Broadway and was a lifelong supporter of the Metropolitan Opera where his mother had performed.
Menotti died in 2007 at the age of 95 in Monte Carlo, Monaco with his adopted son at his side. His partner in life and work, Samuel Barber died in 1981.
Menotti is just another fascinating life that intersected with Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
During this time in the late 1940s, Efrem Jr. sponsored several students from the Curtis Institute of Music and would go on to sponsor many more aspiring students for the rest of his life. He became a producer to bring the not yet famous opera composer Gian Carlo Menotti's modern operas to Broadway in New York City, namely "The Telephone" and "The Medium" in 1947. Menotti played at the Metropolitan Opera House, a place close to the Zimbalist family's heart. In 1950, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his production of "The Consul," which Efrem Jr. produced.
Gian Carlo Menotti's interesting story appears in the sidebar. He also lived to be 95 years old.
In 1949, now living in California, Efrem Jr. made his film debut cast as Tony Monetti in "House of Strangers" with Edward G Robinson and Richard Conte, filmed at Warner Brothers Studios. By that time, Efrem Jr. and Emily McNair had two children, Nancy and Efrem "Skip" Zimbalist III.
Efrem Jr.'s career was finally taking off. He joked that being Jack Warner's tennis partner kept acting parts coming his way.
In 1950, tragedy struck their new family. Emily Munroe McNair died of cancer on January 18, 1950 at age 30. She was buried later in June 1950 in Town Hill Cemetery in New Hartford, Litchfield County, Connecticut, where the Zimbalist family maintains a residence and a cemetery holding.
Efrem Jr. was devastated. He had two children to support and he was seriously thinking of retirement from acting to get a steady job.
Jack Warner supported Efrem Jr.'s plan to retire to raise his kids away from Hollywood. He packed up his two children and moved to Philadelphia where his father was director of The Curtis Institute of Music. Efrem Jr. threw himself into studying and composing music, and became dean of students in 1954.
While still employed at the school, he was cast in a recurring acting part in a television soap opera "Concerning Miss Marlowe" and by 1956, he had given up the music school position altogether. He was back on Broadway in Noel Coward's "Fallen Angels."
More Interesting Trivial for the Trivia-Minded Reader™
ƒ Efrem Jr.'s mother was famous opera singer Alma Gluck
ƒ Efrem Jr.'s father was a world famous violinist, Efrem Zimbalist, Sr. as was his father before him.
ƒ Efrem Jr. kept the tradition going and learned the violin. He also kept the name tradition going and has a son Efrem Zimbalist, III (nicknamed Chip) who owns a multi-media company and works as an actor.
ƒ Efrem Jr.'s daughter is Stephanie Zimbalist, (best known for the TV series Remington Steele) who also studied music at Julliard, although she didn't take up the opera or the violin
ƒ Efrem Jr.'s political involvement became disillusioned in 1964 and ceased altogether with the election campaign of U S Senator Barry Goldwater when he actively campaigned for him in 1963 and 1964 against U S President Lyndon B Johnson.
ƒ In the 1990s he became interested in stem cell therapy, its uses and merits.
ƒ Efrem Jr.'s new stepmother, Mary Louise Curtis Bok Zimbalist was the heir to the Curtis Publishing Company who published the Ladies' Home Journal - founded by her mother. She fought to keep the magazine as a monthly publication until 1970, when it was sold to a larger publishing firm. The magazine went digital in 1995.
ƒ Efrem Jr.'s son, Efrem Zimbalist III got involved in the publishing business and today is the publisher of over 50 weekly and monthly magazines at Active Interest Media. Click link to see the amazing list of magazines his firm publishes. One wonders if his step-grandmother's exposure groomed him to be as successful as she was.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s second marriage
On February 12, 1956, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. married Loranda Stephanie Spaulding. In October 1956 their daughter Stephanie was born. She went on to star in a number of movies and television programs, most notably Remington Steele with Pierce Brosnan.
I thought this was one of the best shows of the 1980s with a good mix and match of actors. I don't know why they only give shows a 5 year run and other shows (sometimes terrible shows) get to run for so much longer. Maybe the actors wanted to move on; maybe they were out of scripts. But it wouldn't hurt to see a return to good sidekick detective shows.
1957 brought Efrem Jr. a seven year contract with Warner Brothers studio. He joked that he got the contract because Jack Warner, the head of studio, was his tennis partner.
When there might have been a rough patch in the marriage where Efrem Jr. had gone to Reno, Nevada in 1961 to get a divorce from Loranda, some accounts say he never went through with a divorce.
Other reports say they did divorce on December 5, 1961, and they remarried in 1962 . At any rate, they remained married until her death of lung cancer on February 5, 2007. She was buried in the family plot at Town Hill Cemetery in New Hartford, Litchfield County, Connecticut. She was 73 years old.
Efrem Sr. lived in Reno Nevada until his death in 1985 at age 94. Efrem Jr.'s sister, Maria, also lived in Reno and she died there in 1981 at age 66.
Theme Song From 77 Sunset Strip
77 Sunset Strip - 1958 to 1964
77 Sunset Strip 1958- 1964
77 Sunset Strip 1958- 1964
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. played con man "Dandy Buckley" in the western series Maverick and in 1958 started work on the series 77 Sunset Strip which was to last until 1964. His character, "Stu Bailey," as a former OSS officer and language expert, along with Roger Smith's Ivy League PhD character "Jeff Spence," ran a private eye office at the famed address in Hollywood. At at time in history when beatniks ala Dobie Gillis and Maynard were all the crazy, they employed Kookie, a beatnik parking lot attendant, who helped them track down their bad guys. Because the young viewer audience was enamored of "Kookie" constantly combing his hair, a song "Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb" was released in 1959, making it a national catch-phrase.
In 1959, Zimbalist got an Emmy nomination but after a few sessions, he felt the hours were long and the scripts were bad. In 1963, Dragnet's Jack Webb was hired as consultant to overhaul the show. All characters were let go except for Efrem, whose new role was to travel the world as an investigator with his OSS background. The overhaul failed and the show ended in 1964.
Because he was well-liked, he wouldn't be out of work for long. The FBI series was right behind 77 Sunset Strip.
Promo in 1969 for The F B I television series
1966 - 1975 The FBI
The F.B.I. 1966 - Season One, Part One
The F.B.I.(1966) Season One, Part Two - 4 discs
2009 Honorary Special FBI Agent
1965 - 1974
- The FBI
"A Quinn Martin and Warner Brothers Production."
I found the above video and it brings back memories for me when I hear the FBI announcer's voice all these years later. Oh, how we looked forward to that show in my house!
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. starred as "Lewis Erskine" in this series from September 1965 to September 1974. He had nothing but praise for his experience on the show.
Efrem Jr. enjoyed a personal friendship with J Edgar Hoover as technical adviser to the show. Hoover wanted nothing more than to make sure FBI agents were shown in a favorable light and to make sure the show was accurate.
Actors who hired to play FBI agents were required to have a background check by Hoover and if they passed, they were approved to take the part on the television show. Efrem passed his background check, then was called to be interviewed by Hoover the following week in Washington, DC. Hoover took him on a tour of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. said this about J Edgar Hoover in an interview: "He never came on the set, but I knew him. A charming man, extremely Virginia formal and an extraordinary command of the language," Zimbalist said Hoover opened the bureau's files to the show's producers and even allowed background shots to be filmed at real FBI offices.
Hoover and Efrem Jr. remained friends until Hoover's death. Hoover held up Efrem as a role model to incoming agents and to all FBI employees so they could emulate his personal appearance.
Zimbalist said in an interview in 2004, that fans of the show occasionally approached him to say they had joined the FBI or had become police officers because of his portrayal of the calm and authoritative government agent on the series.
"I get more joy from that than anything in my life," he said. "When you learn that you inspired someone, it's a huge honor."
At the end of each episode, the series would always post real photos of the FBI's most wanted list. I looked forward to seeing those photos at the end of each show each week, if only for morbid idle curiosity.
I never knew of anyone in my neighborhood who was caught as a result; I guess I lived in a good neighborhood. But it was always interesting to see who the names and faces were and what they were wanted for. Sometimes there was an arrest posted with the wanted names, which was updated on a later show or you would hear about it on the evening news.
It just goes to show you the true power of television with that show and shows like "America's Most Wanted" and how it was and can be used for the better good.
The Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI honored Efrem's character "Lewis Erskine" in 1985 with a special set of retired credentials.
On June 8, 2009, FBI Director Robert Mueller presented him with a plaque as honorary special agent for his work on The F.B.I. TV series, saying "it was a pure collaboration between the FBI agency, the Director J Edgar Hoover and Hollywood."
Marcia Glick Davenport, Author and Half Sister
Efrem Zimbalist Jr.'s half-sister - Marcia Davenport, born in 1903 as Abigail Marcia Glick from Alma's first marriage to Bernard Glick. Marcia died 1996 in Monterey, CA just before her 93rd birthday.
Even though findagrave.com shows a marker and info that she is buried in the family plot at Town Hill Cemetery in New Hartford, CT, I researched this enough to be sure her body is not there and that she was buried in Monterey, CA.
I'm not too trusting of certain "old standby" websites any more, because they are somewhat irresponsible with their information about famous people. They don't investigate and research their information; they just copy it from other sources. Once it gets circulated on the internet and shows up in enough places, people begin to believe what they see. If something has been repeated often enough, people figure it must be the truth.
Marcia had 2 marriages:
- to Frank Clarke, April 23, 1923 and divorced 1925, one daughter, Patricia Delmas Clarke Kapplow;
- to a publisher and writer, Russell Davenport, on May 13, 1929, one daughter, Cornelia Davenport Schwartz, divorced 1944.
Marcia Davenport had an interesting life and made her mark in literature with her first book, Mozart, the first published American biography of composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. It has never been out of print.
She is the author of 8 books in total, two of which caught the eyes of Hollywood producers:
"The Valley of Decision" starred Greer Garson & Gregory Peck, and
"East Side, West Side" starred Barbara Stanwyk, James Mason, Nancy Reagan, Ava Gardner and Van Heflin.
"My Brother's Keeper." which was written in 1954, was optioned for a movie for many years, but never filmed, possibly because of controversy after the real life connection to the story was learned.
Her autobiography, "Too Strong For Fantasy" was published in 1967.
Marcia Davenport's obituary is here.
Remington Steele and onward
In January 1979, Efrem Jr. embraced the evangelical television programs, often watching them late into the night. He became acquainted with Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) and it is his voice you hear at the top of every hour announcing the station's name. He also did voiceover work for other evangelical programs, including readings of the Bible and narrating special programming.
In the 1980s, he had a recurring role as Daniel Chalmers on his daughter Stephanie Zimbalist's TV series "Remington Steele." He also played Charles Cabot on the series "Hotel."
In the early '90s, he played Don Alejandro de la Vega in "Zorro" on the Family Channel.
For over twenty years of his later career, Zimbalist provided the voice for many characters on various animated TV series, including Alfred Pennyworth on "Batman."
In 2003, he published his autobiography "My Dinner of Herbs." An interview about his book appears in a video below.
His last acting job was The Delivery in 2008.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr's book "My Dinner of Herbs" Years up to 1945
Efrem Zimbalist Jr's Book "My Dinner of Herbs" 1945 onward. Excellent history
In 2008, a few weeks before he turned 90, his daughter Stephanie threw him a surprise birthday party. Many of his former co-stars and friends were there, especially James Garner of Maverick and Rockford Files fame and Roger Smith from 77 Sunset Strip.
Roger Smith is married to Ann-Margret and suffers with Myasthenia Gravis, a serious Autoimmune Disease. Update: Roger Smith died June 4, 2017 at age 84.
The birthday party concluded with a film to look back over his career. He said, "I feel like I was in heaven for a day and back.”
What a gentleman and what an accomplished life!
References and Resources For Further Reading
Efrem Zimbalist Sr. - Wikipedia
Alma Gluck - Wikipedia, Reba Fiersohn
Alma Gluck's birthdate discrepancy resulted because Marston Records took creative license with Alma's biography and life event dates, including the relationship status of first marriage as a loveless type of marriage. The links to 7 sites where this information was available are now disabled on the web because the sites have been turned into catalog sales sites.
There were two spellings shown of family name - Feinsohn and Fiersohn, The link shows Alma's correct birth year. From this record listing US Census of 1900, it shows the occupants the residence of Herman and Cecile Goldstein, Alma's sister. This is the home her sister and husband raised their family in, and hosted her mother and siblings when she brought them over from Romania. From this record we also learn that Alma's father is dead (never made the trip to US) since her mother is listed as a widow who had 7 children, 4 survived. Her mother's obituary Zara Fiersohn shows she died at age 74 on August 5, 1916.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. - Wikipedia
St. Petersburg Times - Newspaper interview 1979 talking about his new church, TBN
Movie Database - Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Alma Gluck - Judaica Sound Archives
Efrem Zimbalist Judaica Sound Archives
Efrem Zimbalist Sr - Find-a-Grave
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. discusses his book in Part Two which follows Part One in this article.
Ephrem Zimbalist Jr. reads from the Bible the Book of John (4 mins)
© 2014 Rachael O'Halloran