Monday, March 22, 2010

Ross Martin's 90th Birthday!

Ross Martin {March 22, 1920 - July 3, 1981}

It's crazy! I had no idea that it was Ross' birthday today, when I wrote the post about Experiment in Terror on Saturday; or when I chose him to be the next voice in my favorite voices series. In fact, I planned on posting that voice post today! Now, I think I'll wait a couple of keep the mini-Ross Martin blogathon going! ;-D

Ross was literally and simply-- just brilliant.

Every role he played, whether on television or film was amazing. He couldn't NOT be amazing and original.

Ross was:

A concert-trained violinist.

Multilingual (he spoke Polish, Russian, and Yiddish, before learning English, Spanish, Italian, and French).

Nominated for both an Emmy (The Wild Wild West) and a Golden Globe (Experiment in Terror).

THE coolest Columbo villain ever. Yes. I am stating a definite answer.

The best ever Hollywood Squares guest. (Paul Lynde?! Who CARES ABOUT PAUL LYNDE?)

Peter Falk's acting teacher. Oh, yes!

So amazing in The Great Race that he stole the scenes he was in, away from Peter Falk AND a gloriously over-the-top Jack Lemmon (a difficult task)!

The Phantom Asthmatic.

THE coolest Secret Service agent. EVER. Do not try to debate me on this fact.

--Which magically brings me to what Ross was just the coolest ever as:

Secret Agent Artemus Gordon.

As Artemus Gordon in The Wild Wild West, Ross got to use all of his skills. Because Artemus is both a genius AND the greatest person for disguises...ever!

Almost every episode sees him in some disguise or another. And with Ross, he didn't just put on a costume, wig, and beard (ahem, which he also designed himself from his own sketches). He put on an entire new voice, and an entire new way of walking, and an entire new set of facial expressions. Even though, you are waiting for him, sometimes, it can be difficult just to pick out exactly WHO is Ross!

That's brilliance.

In fact, once Ross had a little trouble, because he forgot to take off one of his costumes:

I went home one afternoon to pick up a script without bothering to change, and a half an hour later the Beverly Hills Police were at my door because a neighbor had reported a suspicious stranger lurking around Ross Martin's house. I had to peel off my beard to prove who I was.

Did I also mention that Ross was simply hilarious?

Unfortunately, Ross had a heart trouble. He suffered a heart attack during the fourth season of WWW and had to leave the show. It struggled out it last few episodes, and never came back for a fifth season. (CBS was pressured into canceling it, because it was "too violent". SERIOUSLY!?!?)

After recovering, he worked often, mainly character parts (that he did so well) in many different TV series. He also managed to come back for two WWW made-for-TV movies that were very popular.

Ross elevated anything he was in. There never was and never will be anyone like him. He was so completely original.....and brilliant.

So, Happy 90th Birthday to Mr. Martin! The world would have been A LOT less cool without him!

Watch a video someone compiled of many Ross "disguises":


Mercurie said...

It is so hard to believe that he would have been 90 today. It's harder to believe he would be 100 ten years from now! He was definitely one of the greatest actors to ever grace the small screen.

Millie said...

I know it's craziness! I was shocked when I saw that. (And just think Robert Conrad's 81!!!)

Of course, Ross always looked a lot younger than he was!

I absolutely agree. He made everything he was in...better!

DKoren said...

Happy Birthday, Ross!! Definitely one of the coolest actors ever.

Laura said...

When I was in high school he narrated Disneyland's candlelight Christmas pageant when our choir sang in it. (The following year it was...Cary Grant! What a memory!) Mr. Martin was a very nice and professional gentleman.

Best wishes,

Sally said...

Yay! Happy Birthday! I've only seen him in The Great Race. But I love him in that one. He's such a great villain!

Apple said...

Robert Conrad is just 75, not 81. He just celebrated his birthday on his CRN radio show, actually.

I agree that Ross Martin made the world a much more awesome place to be entertained :)

Millie said...

Thanks for the correction! I have no idea what I was thinking when I said 81?!?! Haha!


Anonymous said...

Ummmmm, there is just one little problem with your comment about Martin stealing the scenes he was in with Peter Falk in The Great Race: The two actors never actually appeared on screen at the same time. SUPPOSEDLY they were in a scene or two together, but never shared the screen at any point, and those scenes were very brief. If you don't believe me, watch the movie again. Also, Martin was never actually Falk's formal acting teacher. Falk went to a summer camp where Martin was a camp counseler and also taught acting at the same time. It was only for one summer. Some people make more of that than it actually was. Falk's formal acting teacher was Eva La Gallienne.

Millie said...

I overall meant that Ross Martin "steals" the movie itself, despite having some great performances from others like Falk and Lemmon. But that is interesting that they were never onscreen together. I need to watch it again (haven't seen it in a couple of years; this post is almost four years old).

I was misinformed on the second part. Very interesting. I love to learn new information; especially about actors like Ross Martin who don't get as much coverage as other actors. You sound like a Ross Martin expert. I always love to learn more!


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