Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who became a household name on television for playing suave detectives in the 1950s-60s hit series "77 Sunset Strip" and "The FBI", has just passed away. He died peacefully Friday, May 2, at his ranch in Solvang, his family announces. He was 95.
"We are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., today at his Solvang, Calif. ranch. 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," his children say. "We will miss him dearly."
The son of a concert violinist Zimbalist Sr. and opera singer Alma Gluck, the late actor studied at the Yale Drama School and the Neighborhood Playhouse. He then served in World War II and earned a Purple Heart. He pursued a career in entertainment business and continued acting until 2008.
Zimbalist Jr. was presented with an honorary Special Agent badge by FBI director Robert Mueller in 2009. "Efrem's character embodied fidelity, bravery and integrity. So much so that he inspired a generation of future FBI employees, many of whom pursued a career in the bureau because they watched The F.B.I. series as they grew up," Mueller said. "In those days, he may well have been the bureau's best and most effective recruiter!"
Besides starring on crime-solving series, Zimbalist Jr. voiced Alfred Pennyworth in Batman animated series and its multiple spin-offs. He also provided voice to the villainous Dr. Octopus in Spider-Man animated series. He additionally shared screen with his daughter, actress Stephanie Zimbalist, on 1980s hit "Remington Steele" which also starred Pierce Brosnan.