Martin Balsam
Date of Birth
Nov 04, 1919
Birth Place:
Bronx, New York City, NY


Bronx-raised actor Martin Balsam was the oldest of three children of a ladies' sportswear salesman. "Actors are bums" was dad's reaction when Balsam announced his intention of going into show business; still, young Martin took full advantage of lunch breaks from his "real" jobs to rehearse for amateur theatricals. After World War II, Balsam joined New York's Actors Studio, supporting himself by waiting on tables and ushering at Radio City Music Hall. During his formative years he was briefly married to actress Joyce Van Patten; their daughter Talia Balsam would later become a successful film and TV performer. Working steadily if not profitably in nightclubs and TV, Balsam made his first film, the Actors Studio-dominated On the Waterfront, in 1954. Averaging a movie and/or a play a year starting in 1957 (among his best-known film roles were Juror #1 in Twelve Angry Men [1957] and the unfortunate detective Arbogast in Psycho [1960]), Balsam went on to win a Tony for the Broadway play I Know You Can't Hear Me When the Water's Running, an Obie for the off-Broadway production Cold Storage, and an Academy Award for his performance as Jason Robards' older brother in the 1965 film version of A Thousand Clowns. Unfortunately for Balsam, the Oscar was as much a curse as a blessing on his career, and soon he was playing little more than variations on his Thousand Clowns role. In 1979, he was engaged by Norman Lear to play "lovable bigot" Archie Bunker's acerbic Jewish business partner Murray Klein on the CBS sitcom Archie Bunker's Place; he remained with the series until 1981. In 1991, Balsam appeared in Martin Scorsese's Cape Fear, the remake of a film in which Balsam had co-starred (in an entirely different role) in 1962. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Provided by Rovi