Actor Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. passed away today of natural causes. He was 95.
Zimbalist came from a musical family. His father, Efrem Zimbalist, was a renowned violinist while his mother Alma Gluck was an opera singer. The younger Zimbalist would find his success on the small screen and would be a fixture on American television from the late 1950s thru the mid 1970s. He raised eyebrows for his portrayal of Dandy Jim Buckley on several episodes Maverick starring James Garner. Soon Zimbalist was offered a TV show of his own — 77 Sunset Strip, which aired on ABC between 1958 and 1964. But Zimbalist is probably best known for playing Inspector Lewis Erskine on The F.B.I., which aired between 1965 and 1974 also on ABC and was produced by Quinn Martin. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was a consultant on the series.
In the 1980s, Zimbalist appeared as a guest star on TV shows such as Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hotel and Remington Steele, which starred Pierce Brosnan and featured his daughter Stephanie Zimbalist. In the 1990s, Zimbalist moved into voiceover work. Most notably he voiced Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series and various other animated films.
Zimbalist was also one of Hollywood's most prominent conservatives. He campaigned on behalf of Barry Goldwater during the 1964 presidential election. Zimbalist was also a friend of Ronald Reagan. After Reagan completed his second term as Governor of California, it was Zimbalist who persuaded him to try his hand at radio commentary. These commentaries helped keep Reagan in the public eye and, in the days before talk radio, provided the conservative movement with daily food for thought. In 1982, President Reagan appointed Zimbalist to the Board of Trustees for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Zimbalist was also a devout Christian and made many appearances reading Scripture on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.
In 2003, Zimbalist released his autobiography My Dinner of Herbs and here is an excerpt of an interview he conducted promoting the book.