Nehemiah Persoff is a character actor whose prolific career in film and television spanned 50 years, from the late 1940s to the end of the '90s. Although he has more than 150 TV credits to his name, his most notable work has been in film. A student of the legendary acting coach Stella Adler and a proponent of the famed New York City acting school the Actors Studio, where Adler taught, Persoff's earliest TV roles, from 1949 and through most of the '50s, were primarily theatrical productions, before he gained traction with roles on the big screen. In '54, he had a cameo as the cab driver in the notorious "I coulda been a contender" scene with Marlon Brando in Elia Kazan's "On the Waterfront," and, by '56, he had supporting parts in two major films--as Leo in the Humphrey Bogart-starring film noir "The Harder They Fall" and then as Gene Conforti in Alfred Hitchcock's "The Wrong Man," with Henry Fonda in the lead. In '59, he played the size-appropriate part of Little Bonaparte (Persoff was short and stocky) in Billy Wilder's comedy classic "Some Like It Hot." Among Persoff's numerous TV roles, his most memorable included recurring guest appearances on the crime series "The Untouchables" in the late '50s and early '60s, the Western "Gunsmoke" from the mid-'60s to mid-'70s, and the cop show "Hawaii Five-O" from '68 to '79. A native of Jerusalem, Persoff put his ethnicity to use playing Barbra Streisand's father in the '83 musical-romance "Yentl," and again by voicing the part of Papa Mousekewitz in the successful '86 animated film "An American Tail." Nehemiah Persoff died on April 5, 2022 in San Luis Obispo, CA at the age of 102.
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