Efrem Zimbalist Jr., who starred in the long-running U.S. television series “The F.B.I” as well as the popular series “77 Sunset Strip,” died Friday at the age of 95.
Zimbalist died at his Solvang, California, home, his daughter, actress Stephanie Zimbalist, and his son, Efrem Zimbalist III, reportedly said in a statement.
"We are heartbroken to announce the passing into peace of our beloved father, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., today at his Solvang ranch," the statement read, according to Associated Press. "He actively enjoyed his life to the last day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf and visiting with close friends."
Zimbalist was popular for his performance as the private eye Stuart Bailey on “77 Sunset Strip,” which lasted for six seasons, from 1958 through 1964. The show was the first TV series produced by Warner Bros. and aired on ABC. He then returned to the network with “The F.B.I,” which ran from 1965 to 1974.
Zimbalist, the son of famed violinist Efrem Zimbalist Sr. and operatic soprano Alma Gluck, was born in 1918 in New York. He attended Yale University in the late 1930s and worked as a page for NBC radio before enlisting in the Army for five years during World War II.
Zimbalist made his stage debut in "The Rugged Path," starring Spencer Tracy, and appeared in other plays before making it to Hollywood. He had a recurring role in the 1950s hit Western series "Maverick," playing con man Dandy Jim Buckley. He also had a recurring role on the NBC series “Remington Steele,” opposite his daughter, Stephanie, in the 1980s.
Zimbalist was presented with an honorary Special Agent badge by the FBI director Robert Mueller in 2009, who reportedly said about his character: "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 added: "In those days, he may well have been the bureau's best and most effective recruiter!"
In the 1990s, Zimbalist recorded the voice of Alfred Pennyworth, the butler, in the animated version of the "Batman" TV series and its multiple spin-offs. He also published a memoir in 2004, “My Dinner with Herbs.” His supporting movie roles included parts in "House of Strangers" (1949) with Edward G. Robinson, "Band of Angels" (1957) with Clark Gable and Sidney Poitier, "Too Much, Too Soon" (1958) with Errol Flynn, "Airport 1975" (1974) with Charlton Heston and "Hot Shots!" (1991) with Charlie Sheen.
Zimbalist is survived by his children, four grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.