Albert Salmi

Albert Salmi (March 11, 1928 – April 22, 1990) was an American actor of stage, film, and television. Best known for his work as a character actor, he appeared in over 150 film and television productions.[1]

Albert Salmi
in the trailer for The Brothers Karamazov (1958)
Born(1928-03-11)March 11, 1928
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 22, 1990(1990-04-22) (aged 62)
Resting placeGreenwood Memorial Terrace, Spokane, Washington
Years active1955–1989
(m. 1956; div. 1963)
Roberta Pollock Taper
(m. 1964; died 1990)

Early lifeEdit

Salmi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, the son of Finnish immigrant parents.[1] He attended Haaren High School in Manhattan. Following a stint in the United States Army during World War II, Salmi took up acting as a career, studying method acting at the Actors Studio in Manhattan with Lee Strasberg.[2][3]


In 1955, Salmi starred as Bo Decker in the play Bus Stop on Broadway, and also performed in the touring production of the play. His performance was praised by critics, and Salmi was offered the chance to reprise the role in the film Bus Stop (1956) starring Marilyn Monroe. Salmi turned down the offer because he did not enjoy film work. (Don Murray was later cast as Bo and earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance.)[4] Salmi turned down several other offers to make films before he finally accepted a role as Smerdjakov in the film The Brothers Karamazov (1958), with Yul Brynner, Lee J. Cobb, William Shatner, and Richard Basehart. Salmi's next film was The Bravados (1958), in which he played one of the villains who is hunted down by hero Gregory Peck. The National Board of Review presented Salmi with the NBR Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in both of these films.[citation needed]

Despite his numerous appearances in the medium, Salmi shared the opinion of many Actors Studio alumni that roles in film and television were "inferior" to stage work.[5] One of his first television appearances was in the live, televised adaptation of the novel Bang the Drum Slowly (1956), featured on the anthology series The United States Steel Hour opposite Paul Newman and George Peppard.[6] He also had several memorable roles on CBS's The Twilight Zone, including "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", "A Quality of Mercy", and "Execution". In 1963, he portrayed John Day and Rivers in the episode "Incident of the Pale Rider" on the CBS series Rawhide. In 1964–65, he appeared with Fess Parker as Yadkin in the first season of the Daniel Boone TV series. He later appeared twice as the incorrigible pirate Alonzo P. Tucker on Lost in Space. He appeared in a 1967 episode of Gunsmoke as a killer who comes to an ironic end. For that performance, Salmi was awarded a Western Heritage Award.[4]

A high point of Salmi's career came in 1968, when he was cast in the Arthur Miller play The Price. He played the lead on Broadway and in London.[citation needed]. From 1974 to 1976, Salmi co-starred in the NBC legal drama Petrocelli as local investigator Pete Ritter.[7]

Salmi's film career included roles in The Unforgiven (1960), The Outrage (1964), Lawman (1971), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Viva Knievel! (1977), Empire of the Ants (1977), Love and Bullets (1979), Caddyshack (1980), and the Robert Redford prison film Brubaker (1980). He played Greil in Dragonslayer (1981), Geraldine Page's husband in I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can (1982), and the hard-drinking but loving father of character Diana Lawson in Hard to Hold (1984). His final role in a theatrical film was in Breaking In (1989), starring Burt Reynolds.[citation needed]

Personal lifeEdit

Julie Newmar and Albert Salmi (in elderly makeup) in "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", a 1963 episode of The Twilight Zone

Salmi met actress Peggy Ann Garner while the two were performing in the National Company touring production of Bus Stop in 1955.[8] They were married on May 18, 1956, in New York City.[9] Their only child, Catherine Ann "Cas" Salmi, was born on March 30, 1957; Catherine died in 1995 of heart disease at the age of 38.[10]

Salmi married Roberta Pollock Taper in 1964. The couple had two daughters, Elizabeth and Jennifer.[7] In 1983, the family moved from Los Angeles to Spokane, Washington, where Salmi went into semi-retirement, taking occasional acting roles.[11] Salmi later taught acting and appeared in community and regional theater.[5]

In February 1990, Albert and Roberta Salmi separated. He moved into their Idaho condominium, while Roberta remained in the family home in Spokane. She filed for divorce on February 6.[12] According to court documents, Roberta Salmi claimed that her husband was an alcoholic who physically abused her when he drank. She also claimed that Salmi threatened her on several occasions, and she was in fear for her life. Roberta later took out a restraining order against her husband. In response to her claims in the court documents, Salmi denied physically abusing Roberta and blamed their estrangement on her emotional issues.[11][12]

On April 23, 1990, Albert Salmi and his estranged wife Roberta were found dead in their Spokane home by a friend who stopped by to check on her. According to newspaper accounts, Salmi fatally shot Roberta in the kitchen of her home, before shooting himself in an upstairs room.[1][12]

On April 26, Salmi's funeral was held at the Hennessey-Smith Funeral Home, after which he was cremated and placed in a niche at Greenwood Memorial Terrace cemetery in Spokane.[4][13]


Bang the Drum Slowly (1956)

Gore Vidals Billy The Kid (1989) – Mr. Maxwell


  1. ^ a b c "Albert Salmi, Actor, 62, Is Found Shot to Death in Home With Wife". The New York Times. April 25, 1990. Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  2. ^ Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
  3. ^ Millstein, Gilbert (January 2, 1955). "YOUNG ACTOR FROM BROOKLYN / Salmi Traces His Path From Bay Ridge To Broadway". The New York Times. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c Pettit, Stefanie (February 17, 2011). "Landmarks: Actor's murder-suicide left behind fame, forgiveness".
  5. ^ a b Walter, Jess; Sowa, Tom (April 25, 1990). "Shooting victim feared for her life". Spokane Chronicle. p. B8.
  6. ^ McLellan, Dennis (June 7, 2007). "Baseball novelist, author of 'Bang the Drum Slowly, among others". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. B-3.
  7. ^ a b Scott, Vernon (October 11, 1974). "Albert Salmi Finnish Hero". Boca Raton News. p. 9.
  8. ^ Parish, Robert James (1976). Hollywood Players: The Forties. Arlington House Publishers. p. 262. ISBN 9780870003226.
  9. ^ "Peggy Ann Garner To Marry Friday". Kentucky New Era. May 16, 1956. p. 10.
  10. ^ Motion Picture. Macfadden-Bartell. 47: 98. 1957.{{cite journal}}: CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  11. ^ a b Walter, Jess (May 10, 1990). "Actor wasn't drinking before murder, suicide". The Spokesman-Review. p. B4.
  12. ^ a b c Walter, Jess (May 10, 1990). "Actor wasn't drinking before murder, suicide". The Spokesman-Review. p. B1.
  13. ^ "Albert Salmi". The Spokesman-Review. April 26, 1990. p. D7.


Grabman, Sandra (2004). "Spotlights & Shadows: The Albert Salmi Story". Published by Bear Manor Media 2004, second edition 2010. ISBN 978-1-59393-425-5.

External linksEdit

Wagon Train season 5 episode 34 The Frank Carter Story.