Persoff, Nehemiah

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PERSOFF, NEHEMIAH (1920– ), U.S. actor. Born in Jerusalem, Persoff was taken to New York in 1929. He joined the Actors Studio and in 1947 appeared on Broadway in Galileo. His other Broadway appearances include Monserrat (1949), Richard iii (1949), Peter Pan (1950), King Lear (1951), Peer Gynt (1951), Camino Real (1953), Reclining Figure (1954), Mademoiselle Colombe (1954), Tiger at the Gates (1955), and Only in America (1959). His later stage work in California included Two, I'm Not Rappaport, and his biographical one-man show Nehemiah Persoff 's Sholem Aleichem.

He had roles in such films as A Double Life (1948), On the Waterfront (1954), The Harder They Fall (1956), The Wrong Man (1956), Green Mansions (1958), Al Capone (1959), Some Like It Hot (1959), The Big Show (1961), The Comancheros (1961), The Greatest Story Ever Told (1964), Panic in the City (1968), Yentl (1983), Twins (1988); and he was the voice of Papa Mousekewitz in the animated adventure film An American Tail (1986) and its three sequels (1991, 1999, 2000).

In addition to his appearance in episodes of dozens of television shows, Persoff figured in the cast of such series as The Untouchables (1961–63), High Hopes (1978), and This Is the Life (1983). His many tv movies include The Dangerous Days of Kiowa Jones (1966), Cutter's Trail (1970), Michael O'Hara the Fourth (1972), Eric (1975), Killing Stone (1978), FDR: The Last Year (1980), Sadat (1983), and The Big Knife (1988).

Persoff turned to painting in 1985, studying sketching in Los Angeles. Specializing in watercolor, he has had many of his works exhibited in California.

[Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]