I was very much saddened to learn tonight of the passing of Efrem Zimbalist Jr. He was 95.
Stephanie Zimbalist and Efrem Zimbalist III released the following statement: "We are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., today at his Solvang, Calif. ranch. He was 95 years old. A devout Christian, he actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf, and visiting with close friends. We will miss him dearly."
Zimbalist was, of course, the star of the TV series 77 SUNSET STRIP and THE F.B.I., and he also had a recurring role as Dandy Jim Buckley on my favorite MAVERICK series. Another great recurring role was as Daniel Chalmers on his daughter Stephanie's series REMINGTON STEELE. And in more recent years, cartoon fans knew him as the voice of Alfred on BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES.
I wrote him a fan letter as a teen and received a lengthy letter back in response, penned in exquisite cursive. A small sample of that letter:
I also have a fond memory of standing in line near him for a classic film screening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art many years ago. Every impression I have gathered of him, from my brief contacts and what I've read, is that Mr. Zimbalist epitomized graciousness and class.
Zimbalist's autobiography was titled MY DINNER OF HERBS.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. movies previously reviewed here: HOUSE OF STRANGERS (1949), BOMBERS B-52 (1957), VIOLENT ROAD (1958), THE CROWDED SKY (1960), and AIRPORT 1975 (1974), which I just saw at the Egyptian Theatre earlier this year.
Zimbalist's other film credits included BAND OF ANGELS (1957), TOO MUCH, TOO SOON (1958), HOME BEFORE DARK (1958), A FEVER IN THE BLOOD (1961), BY LOVE POSSESSED (1961), WAIT UNTIL DARK (1967), and the excellent TV-movie A FAMILY UPSIDE DOWN (1978) starring Fred Astaire.
A FEVER IN THE BLOOD airs on Turner Classic Movies on May 14, 2014.
An obituary in The Hollywood Reporter has more on his long career.
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. gave a great many people many happy viewing experiences, on screens large and small. My gratitude to him, and sincere condolences to his family.
Saturday Update: The Los Angeles Times has now posted an obituary by Dennis McLellan.