Ross Martin (born Martin Rosenblatt, March 22, 1920 – July 3, 1981) was an American radio, voice, stage, film and television actor. Martin was best known for portraying Artemus Gordon on the CBS Western series The Wild Wild West, which aired from 1965 to 1969. He was the voice of Doctor Paul Williams in 1972's Sealab 2020, additional characters in 1973's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids, and additional character voices in 1978's Jana of the Jungle.
Martin in 1967
March 22, 1920
|Died||July 3, 1981 (aged 61)|
Ramona, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Alma mater||City College of New York|
George Washington University
Muriel Weiss1 daughter
(m. 1941; died 1965)
(m. 1967; his death 1981)
Martin was born to a Polish Jewish family in Gródek, Poland (now Horodok, Ukraine). He and his parents emigrated to New York City when he was an infant. Recorded as Izak and Sara Rosenblat and infant son Marcus, they boarded the steamship New Rochelle at Danzig, which was then a Free City under the League of Nations; the ship sailed on 29 August 1920 and arrived at the Port of New York on 18 September. As they were steerage passengers, they were obliged to go to Ellis Island to undergo U.S. Immigrant Inspection. They settled in The Bronx. Martin spoke Polish, Yiddish and some Russian before learning English and later added French, Spanish and Italian to his repertoire.
Despite academic training in business, instruction, and law, Martin chose a career in acting. He was partners in a comedy team with Bernie West for several years, then appeared on many radio and live TV broadcasts before making his Broadway debut in Hazel Flagg in 1953.
Martin's first film was the George Pal 1955 production Conquest of Space, followed by a brief but memorable appearance in The Colossus of New York (1958), as the scientist father of Charles Herbert. In 1959, Martin appeared in the episode "Echo" on Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond. He appeared in two 1959 episodes of David Janssen's crime drama series, Richard Diamond, Private Detective. Soon after, he caught the eye of Blake Edwards, who cast him in a number of widely varied roles; as Sal in the 1959 Peter Gunn episode "The Fuse", his breakout role as the comic sidekick Andamo in the 1959 CBS drama series Mr. Lucky, the asthmatic kidnapper Red Lynch in the 1962 thriller Experiment in Terror, culminating with a role in The Great Race, as the smoothly villainous Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe. He was also a regular on Stump the Stars from 1962-1963.
The Wild Wild WestEdit
After his performance in The Great Race, CBS cast Martin in what was to become his most famous role, Secret Service agent Artemus Gordon in The Wild Wild West, opposite Robert Conrad. The Artemus Gordon character was a master gadgeteer and disguise artist, and these attributes fitted Martin perfectly. Martin himself created most of his disguises for the show, and most of the cast had no idea what he would look like until seeing him during the shooting of the episode. The recent DVD release of the first season of the series includes a recently discovered pre-production sketch Martin had made of his very first make-up design for the pilot episode. Another episode revealed another of Martin's talents: he was a concert-trained violinist.
In 1968, Martin broke his leg and then suffered a near-fatal heart attack, forcing The Wild Wild West to replace him with other actors, including Charles Aidman, William Schallert and Alan Hale Jr for nine episodes. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, for the fourth and final season of The Wild Wild West. The series was cancelled in 1969 in the midst of a national controversy over violence on television.
After The Wild, Wild West ended, Martin continued his career in various guest roles on television and in roles in television films. In 1970, Martin portrayed Alexander Hamilton in the NBC television special Swing Out, Sweet Land, hosted by John Wayne. He also appeared in a 1970 episode of The Immortal ("White Elephants Don't Grow on Trees"). The following year, Martin tried his hand at directing. He guest starred in the 1971 episode of Columbo entitled "Suitable For Framing", as Dale Kingston, a murderous art critic and also a 1971 episode of Love, American Style, which he also directed. Martin directed another episode of the series in 1973. Later that same year, he appeared as the famed Asian detective Charlie Chan in The Return of Charlie Chan. He made a guest appearance on Barnaby Jones in 1974, and also lent his voice to an episode of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home later that year.
In 1976, Martin returned to the stage as John Adams in a touring production of the musical 1776. In 1978, he did more voice work for the animated series Jana of the Jungle. He reprised the role of Artemus Gordon in two Wild, Wild West television movies: The Wild Wild West Revisited in 1979 and More Wild Wild West in 1980. He had a four-episode recurring role as kumu mobster Tony Alika on Hawaii Five-O from 1978-79. In 1980, Martin appeared in the third episode of The Love Boat as Tom Thorton. Martin's final role was in the 1983 television movie I Married Wyatt Earp in which he played the role of Jacob Speigler. The film aired two years after his death.
Martin married his first wife, Muriel Weiss, in 1941. They had one child together, a daughter, Phyllis Rosenblatt (a New York artist). Weiss died from cancer in 1965. (Martin and Weiss were separated at the time of her death.)
In 1967, Martin married Olavee Lucile Parsons (a successful model and documentary director) and adopted her two children, Rebecca (Martin) Schacht and George Martin. Martin and Parsons remained married until Martin's death in 1981. She died in 2002.
On July 3, 1981, Martin suffered a fatal heart attack after a game of tennis at San Vincente Tennis Ranch, San Diego County Club of Ramona, California. He was rushed to the Pomerado Hospital in Poway, California, but was pronounced dead on arrival.
TV and filmographyEdit
|1949||Lights Out||Episode: "I Dreamt I Died"|
|1950||Lights Out||Episode: "A Toast to Sergeant Farnsworth"|
|1950||Lights Out||Episode: "The Gloves of Gino"|
|1951||Lights Out||Episode: "The Man with the Astrakhan Hat"|
|1950-1955||Treasury Men in Action||Agent||189 episodes|
|1951||Somerset Maugham TV Theatre||Episode: "Appearances and Reality"|
|1952||Goodyear Television Playhouse||Episode: "The Cipher"|
|1953||Suspense||Episode: "Needle in a Haystack"|
|1953||Suspense||Episode: "The Riddle of Mayerling"|
|1954||The Web||Episode: "The Hunted"|
|1954-1956||The Big Story||William Fernandez||3 episodes|
|1955-1957||Modern Romances'||6 episodes|
|1955||Conquest of Space||Andre Fodor|
|1956||Sheriff of Cochise||Episode: "The Check Artist"|
|1957||The Alcoa Hour||Tony||Episode: "A Double Life"|
|1958||Underwater Warrior||Sgt. Joe O'Brien||Movie, early frogman|
|1958||The Colossus of New York||Dr. Jeremy 'Jerry' Spensser||Movie, brilliant scientist|
|1958||The Court of Last Resort||Phillip Huston||Episode: "The Phillip Huston Case"|
|1958||Gunsmoke||Dan Clell||Episode: "Bottleman"|
|1958||The Walter Winchell File||Buckner||Episode: "Portrait of a Cop: File #27"|
|1959||Peter Gunn||Sal Matzi||Episode: "The Fuse"|
|1959||Naked City||Carlo||Episode: "Ten Cent Dreams"|
|1959||Sea Hunt||Finch||Episode: "The Dam"|
|1959||Sea Hunt||USCG Captain Stevens||Episode: "The Briefcase"|
|1959||Steve Canyon||Aly Brahma||Episode: "Room 313"|
|1959||One Step Beyond||Paul Marlin||Episode: "Echo"|
|1959-1960||Mr. Lucky||Andamo||34 episodes|
|1960||Laramie||Angel||Episode: "A Sound of Bells"|
|1960||The Twilight Zone||Johnny||Episode: "The Four of Us Are Dying"|
|1961||The Law and Mr. Jones||Frank Brody||Episode: "The Enemy"|
|1961||87th Precinct||Joe Czepreghi||Episode: "Occupation: Citizen"|
|1961||Zorro||Marcos Estrada||Episode: "Auld Acquaintance"|
|1962||Experiment in Terror||Garland Humphrey 'Red' Lynch|
|1963||Wagon Train||Sam Pulaski||Episode: "The Sam Pulaski Story"|
|1963||The Twilight Zone||Lt. Ted Mason||Episode: "Death Ship Episode #108"|
|1963||Bonanza||Nick Biancci||Episode: "Little Man... Ten Feet Tall"|
|1963||The Ceremony||Le Caq|
|1963||The Danny Thomas Show||Copa Club Musician||Season 11, episode 11 "The Two Musketeers"|
|1964||Vacation Playhouse||Claudie Hughes||Episode: "I and Claudie"|
|1965||The Man from Button Willow||Andy Svenson||Voice|
|1965||The Great Race||Baron Rolfe von Stuppe|
|1965-1969||The Wild Wild West||Artemus Gordon||95 episodes|
|1970||The Immortal||Eddie Yoman||Episode: " White Elephants Don't Grow on Trees"|
|1970||Swing Out, Sweet Land||Alexander Hamilton||Television special|
|1971||The Sheriff||Larry Walters||Television movie|
|1971||Columbo||Dale Kingston||Episode: "Suitable for Framing"|
|1971||Night Gallery||Mr. Gingold||Episode: "Camera Obscura"|
|1972||The F.B.I.||George Barrows||Episode: "The Wizard"|
|1972||ABC Afterschool Special||Stan||Episode: "The Last of the Curlews"|
|1972||The Crooked Hearts||Sgt. Daniel Shane||Television movie|
|1973||Tenafly||Grady Hall||Episode: "Joyride to Nowhere"|
|1973||Ironside||Arthur Damien||Episode: "Mind for Murder"|
|1973||Night Gallery||Bradley Meredith||Episode: "The Other Way Out"|
|1973||The Return of Charlie Chan||Charlie Chan||Television movie|
|1974||Skyway to Death||Martin Leonard||Television movie|
|1974||Barnaby Jones||Maxwell Imry||Episode: "Friends Till Death"|
|1975||The Invisible Man||Amb Diego Devega||Episode: "The Fine Art of Diplomacy"|
|1975||Ellery Queen||Dr. Otis Tremaine||Episode: " The Adventure of the Pharaoh's Curse"|
|1976||Gemini Man||Carl Victor||Episode: "Minotaur"|
|1976||Sanford and Son||Aram||Episode: "California Crude"|
|1977||Blansky's Beauties||Sheik Ben-Ali||Episode: "Nancy Goes Sheik"|
|1977||Charlie's Angels||Dr. Perine||Episode: "Unidentified Flying Angels"|
|1978||Quark||Zorgon the Malevolent||2 episodes "All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms, Parts 1 & 2"|
|1978||Vega$||Werner Worthmeyer||Episode: "Mother Mishkin"|
|1978-1979||Hawaii Five-O||Tony Alika||4 episodes|
|1978||Wild and Wooly||Otis Bergen||TV movie|
|1979||The Return of Mod Squad||Buck Prescott||Television movie|
|1979||The Seekers||Supply Pleasant||Television movie|
|1979||The Wild Wild West Revisited||Artemus Gordon||Television movie|
|1980||The Love Boat||Tom Thornton||Episode: "April's Love/Happy Ending/We Three"|
|1980||Fantasy Island||Ace Scanlon||Episode: "The Devil and Mandy Breem/The Millionaire"|
|1980||More Wild Wild West||Artemus Gordon||Television movie|
|1981||Mork & Mindy||Godfrey||Episode: "Mork and the Bum Rap"|
|1983||I Married Wyatt Earp||Jacob Spiegler||Television movie|
Released posthumously, (final film role)
- "Heart attack kills actor Martin". The Bulletin. Bend, Oregon. United Press International: C–6. July 6, 1981. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
- "Ross Martin, Actor Known for TV Roles". The New York Times. Associated Press. July 6, 1981. p. D7.
- Oldham, Gabriela (2017). Blake Edwards: Interviews. University Press of Mississippi. ISBN 978-1496815675.
- Monush, Barry (2009). Everybody's Talkin': The Top Films of 1965-1969. Hal Leonard LLC. p. 34. ISBN 978-1557836182.
- Britton, Wesley Alan (2004). Spy Television. Greenwood. p. 148. ISBN 978-0275981631.
- Bubbeo, Daniel (January 29, 2016). "Hamilton actors: Who's played Alexander in theater, TV and movies?". Newsday. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- "Columbo: Suitable For Framing". Radio Times. Retrieved May 9, 2019.
- Peterson, Bettelou (January 7, 1990). "Three men played Charlie Chan: Warner Oland, Sidney Toler and who was the third?". Chicago Tribune.
- Martindale, David (August 1, 1991). Television Detective Shows of the 1970s: Credits, Storylines and Episode Guides for 109 Series. McFarland & Company. p. 223. ISBN 978-0899505572.
- "Television". Cue. 1974. p. 54.
- "Ross Martin Booked For Melody Top 1776," Milwaukee Sentinel, March 19, 1976.
- Ursini, James; Mainon, Dominique (March 1, 2006). The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women On-Screen. Rowan & Littlefield. p. 392. ISBN 978-0879106911.
- Rowan, Terry. The American Western A Complete Film Guide. Lulu.com. p. 422. ISBN 978-1300418580.
- Goldberg, Lee (2015). Unsold Television Pilots: 1955-1989. Adventures in Television. ISBN 978-1511590679. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
- Leszczak, Bob (November 8, 2012). Single Season Sitcoms, 1948–1979: A Complete Guide. McFarland & Company. p. 51. ISBN 978-0786493050.
- Rainey, Bucky (November 17, 1998). Western Gunslingers in Fact and on Film: Hollywood's Famous Lawmen and Outlaws. McFarland & Company. p. 170. ISBN 978-1476603285.
- Aaker, Everett (May 16, 2017). Television Western Players, 1960-1975: A Biographical Dictionary. McFarland & Company. pp. 271–272. ISBN 978-1476628561.
- "Funeral services will be held Tuesday for actor Ross..." UPI. July 5, 1981.