Actors Studio, Alvah Bessie, Arthur Miller, Billy Wilder, Bus Stop, Charles Lederer, Clash By Night, Death of a Salesman, Edward G. Robinson, Elia Kazan, Lee Strasberg, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Nehemiah Persoff, Some Like It Hot, The Sex Symbol, The Symbol, Tony Curtis
The great character actor Nehemiah Persoff, whose many roles included the mobster ‘Little Bonaparte’ in Some Like It Hot, has died at the grand old age of 102.
Nehemiah was born in Jerusalem in 1919. His parents had met as amateur actors fleeing the Jewish pogroms in Odessa, Ukraine for Israel. His father became a teacher and moved to New York, with the family joining him later. “This was 1929, close to the market crash that led to the Great Depression,” he wrote. “I hated this dirty place, Brooklyn … I cried myself to sleep for two years before I began to accept the fact that America was my new home.”
On the streets of Brooklyn, poverty and violence were commonplace, and the young Nehemiah – known to his friends as ‘Nicky’ – soon learned to fight back. “Actually, many of the so-called ‘lowlifes’ I knew were not bad guys at all,” he recalled. “They did what they did because that was the only way they could live. In playing gangsters later on, I always tried to find some good in them.” Continue reading