Abraham Isaac Sofaer (1 October 1896 – 21 January 1988) was a Burmese-born British actor who began his career on stage and became a familiar supporting player in film and on television in his later years.
Abraham Isaac Sofaer
1 October 1896
|Died||21 January 1988 (aged 91)|
Angela Psyche Christian
Life and careerEdit
Although Sofaer was born in Rangoon, Burma (then a part of the British Empire), he was descended from Baghdadi Jews. The son of very successful merchant Isaac Sofaer (who established the Sofaer Building, Rangoon, which still stands today), he was educated locally at the Diocesan Boys’ High School. His education continued in England, and he initially worked as a school teacher in Rangoon and later in London. Sofaer's strong features and resonant voice complemented his many exotic character roles.
Sofaer began his acting career on the London stage in 1921, but soon he was alternating between theatre productions in London and New York. He appeared in the 1933 musical He Wanted Adventure alongside Bobby Howes. In 1935 he gained widespread attention on Broadway portraying Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli in Victoria Regina. During the 1930s he also began appearing in both British and American films. Among his more prominent performances were his dual role as the Judge and Surgeon in Powell and Pressburger's A Matter of Life and Death (1946) and as Saint Paul in Quo Vadis (1951).
He also appeared on television from its earliest days in the late 1930s and on radio, including a small part in Dorothy L. Sayers' The Man Born to Be King. Although his film appearances diminished after the 1950s, he continued to have guest roles on dozens of major U.S. television series throughout the 1960s. He made three appearances on Perry Mason including as Sylvester Robey in the 1960 episode "The Case of the Crying Cherub" and his voice was featured in two episodes of Star Trek. Other guest appearances were in Wagon Train, Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, The Investigators, Daniel Boone, The Time Tunnel, Lost in Space, and The Outer Limits. He may be best remembered for his recurring role as Haji, the master of all genies, on I Dream of Jeannie and as The Swami who advises Peter Tork in the "Sauna" scene in The Monkees' 1968 film Head.
In 1920, Sofaer married Angela Psyche Christian, with whom he had two sons and four daughters. He retired from acting in 1974.
- Dreyfus (1931) - Dubois
- The House Opposite (1932) - Fahmy
- Stamboul (1932) - Mahmed Pasha
- The Flying Squad (1932) - Li Yoseph
- Insult (1932) - Ali Ben Achmed
- The Flag Lieutenant (1933) - Meheti Salos
- Long Live the King (1933, Short) - Alexis
- Karma (1933) - Holy Man
- The Wandering Jew (1933) - Zapportas
- Trouble (1933) - Ali
- Little Miss Nobody (1933) - Mr. Beal
- High Finance (1933) - Myers
- Ask Beccles (1933) - Baki
- Oh No Doctor! (1934) - Skelton
- Nell Gwynn (1934) (uncredited)
- The Admiral's Secret (1934) - Don Pablo y Gonzales
- The Private Life of Don Juan (1934) - Street Bookseller (uncredited)
- Things to Come (1936) - The Jew (uncredited)
- The House of the Spaniard (1936) - Vidal
- Rembrandt (1936) - Dr. Menasseh
- The Switchback (1939, TV Movie)
- Caesar's Friend (1939, TV Movie) - Annas
- The Deacon and the Jewess (1939, TV Movie) - Benedict the Pointer, Jew of Oxford
- The Great Adventure (1939, TV Movie) - Ebag
- Freedom Radio (1941) - Heini
- The Prime Minister (1941) - Turkish ambassador (uncredited)
- Crook's Tour (1941) - Ali
- The Queen of Spades (1946, TV Movie) - Tchekalinsky
- The Man with the Cloak Full of Holes (1946, TV Movie) - Luis Santangel
- A Matter of Life and Death (1946) - The Judge
- Caesar's Friend (1947, TV Movie) - Joseph Caiaphas
- The Merchant of Venice (1947, TV Movie, aired on two days) - Shylock
- Dual Alibi (1947) - French Judge
- Trilby (1947, TV Movie) - Svengali
- The Ghosts of Berkeley Square (1947) - Benjamin Disraeli
- Dim'at Ha'Nehamah Ha'Gedolah (1947) - Corporal / Commentator: Jordan's Tale
- Calling Paul Temple (1948) - Dr. Kohima
- Tilly of Bloomsbury (1948, TV Movie) - Mehta Ram
- Counsellor at Law (1949, TV Movie) - George Simon
- A Man's House (1949, TV Movie) - Salathiel
- The Gentle People (1949, TV Movie) - Jonah Goodman
- Christopher Columbus (1949) - Luis de Santangel
- The Squeaker (1949, TV Movie) - Lew Friedman
- Dick Whittington (1949, TV Movie) - Sultan
- Cairo Road (1950) - Commandant
- Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951) - Judge
- Quo Vadis (1951) - Paul, Christian Evangelist
- Judgment Deferred (1952) - Chancellor
- Music at Night (1952, TV Movie) - Nicholas Lengel
- His Majesty O'Keefe (1954) - Fatumak, Medicine Man
- The Naked Jungle (1954) - Incacha
- Elephant Walk (1954) - Appuhamy
- Out of the Clouds (1955) - The Indian
- Bhowani Junction (1956) - Surabhai
- The First Texan (1956) - Don Carlos
- Omar Khayyam (1957) - Tutush
- The Story of Mankind (1957) - Indian Chief
- The Sad Sack (1957) - Hassim
- Song Without End (1960) - Emissary in Rome (uncredited)
- Hitler (1962) - Morris Kaplan
- Taras Bulba (1962) - Abbot
- Captain Sindbad (1963) - Galgo
- Twice-Told Tales (1963) - Prof. Pietro Baglioni
- 4 for Texas (1963) - Pulaski
- The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) - Joseph of Arimathaea
- Journey to the Center of Time (1967) - Dr. 'Doc' Gordon
- Head (1968) - Swami
- Che! (1969) - Pablo Rojas
- Justine (1969) - Proprietor
- Chisum (1970) - Chief White Buffalo
Selected television appearancesEdit
- Zane Grey Theatre — "Mission" (1959) — Comanche Chief Alou
- The Real McCoys — "The Rainmaker" (1959) Arapaho Chief
- Wagon Train — "The Stagecoach Story" (1959) Antonio DeVargo
- Gunsmoke — "Kitty's Killing" (1960–1962) — Jeremiah Leech / Harvey Easter
- The Twilight Zone — "The Mighty Casey" (1960) — Dr. Stillman
- Peter Gunn — "A Penny Saved" (1961) — Boris Petrov
- Thriller — "The Weird Tailor" (1961) — Nicolai
- Star Trek, Episode #1.02 "Charlie X" (1966) — The Thasian
- The Man from U.N.C.L.E. "The Brain-Killer Affair" (1965) — Mr. Gabhail Samoy, head of U.N.C.L.E. operations in Calcutta
- The Time Tunnel — "Revenge of the Gods" (1966) — Epeios
- I Dream of Jeannie — "The Birds and the Bees Bit" (1967) — Haji
- Lost in Space — "The Flaming Planet" (1968) — Sobram
- Kolchak: The Night Stalker "Horror in the Heights" (1974) — Rakshasa Hunter (final appearance)
Outer Limits:Demon with a glass hand:1964;Arch
- "Abraham Sofaer | BBA Shakespeare". bbashakespeare.warwick.ac.uk.
- "Abraham Sofaer | BBA Shakespeare". bbashakespeare.warwick.ac.uk.
- "A. Sofaer, 91; Veteran Film, Stage Actor", obituary, Los Angeles Times, January 22, 1988. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- "Abraham Sofaer | Biography, Movie Highlights and Photos". AllMovie.
- "Abraham Sofaer", Internet Broadway Database (IBDB), The Broadway League, New York, N.Y. Retrieved May 2, 2018.
- "Abraham Sofaer". BFI.
- "King Lear (1939): BBC | BBA Shakespeare". bbashakespeare.warwick.ac.uk.
- "Abraham Sofaer | TV Guide". TVGuide.com.
- "Abraham Sofaer | TV, Documentary and Other Appearances". AllMovie.
- "I Dream of Jeannie : There Goes the Bride (1967) - Larry Hagman, Gene Nelson, Hal Cooper, Claudio Guzmán | Synopsis, Characteristics, Moods, Themes and Related". AllMovie.
- "Head (1968) - Bob Rafelson | Cast and Crew". AllMovie.