- Ross Martin
name = Ross Martin
birthname = Martin Rosenblatt
birthdate = 1920
deathdate = death date and age|1981|7|3|1920|3|22|mf=y
Ramona, California, United States
Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemetery Los Angeles, California, United States
spouse = Olavee Grindrod
(1967-1981) (his death)
(1941-1965) (her death)
Ross Martin (
March 22, 1920– July 3, 1981) was an American actorknown for playing Artemus Gordon in the western TVseries " The Wild Wild West".
Martin was born into a Jewish family as Martin Rosenblatt on
March 22, 1920, in Grodek, Poland, but grew up on New York City's Lower East Side. He spoke Yiddish, Polish and Russian before learning English and later added French, Spanish and Italian to his repertoire.
Despite academic training (and honors) in business, instruction, and law, Martin chose a career in acting. He made his Broadway debut in "
Hazel Flagg" in 1953. His first film was the George Palproduction " Conquest of Space", followed by a brief, but memorable appearance in " The Colossus of New York" (1958), as the scientist father of Charles Herbert. Soon after, he caught the eye of Blake Edwardswho cast him in a number of widely varied roles ("Mr. Lucky" and " Experiment in Terror"), culminating with a role in " The Great Race," as the smoothly villainous Baron Rolfe Von Stuppe.
After his performance in "The Great Race",
CBScast him in what was to become his most famous part, Secret Service agent Artemus Gordon in "The Wild Wild West", opposite Robert Conrad. His character, a master gadgeteer and disguise artist, fitted Martin perfectly. Unknown to most, Martin created most of his disguises for the show and most of the cast had no idea what he'd 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, that he was a concert-trained violinist.
In 1967, he married Olavee Grindrod and adopted her two children. He'd had a daughter with his first wife. Martin suffered a near-fatal heart attack in 1968, forcing "The Wild Wild West" to temporarily replace him with other actors, including
Charles Aidman, William Schallertand Alan Hale, Jr.(the series was cancelled the following year).
He appeared as a guest star in several programs during the 1960s and 1970s, including "Wonder Woman", "
Sanford and Son", " Columbo", "The Twilight Zone", " Night Gallery", " Mork and Mindy", " Hawaii Five-O" and " Charlie's Angels".
Martin starred in a 1973 made-for-TV movie, "The Return of Charlie Chan", portraying famed Asian detective
Charlie Chanas a retiree forced to return to detective work. Although the movie received ratings more than sufficient enough for a regular series to be ordered, intense pressure from Asian actors' groups who protested an Occidentalplaying an Orientalcharacter caused plans for such a series to be discarded.
He reprised the role of Artemus Gordon in a pair of "Wild, Wild West" television movies in 1979 and 1980, reuniting with his co-star Conrad. The films were highly rated and there were plans to revive "Wild Wild West" as a series, but Martin collapsed while playing
tennison July 3, 1981, and died from a heart attack, aged 61.
Martin is interred in
Mount Sinai Memorial Park Cemeteryin Los Angeles, California.
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