It is with a heavy heart that we at FTN say a tearful farewell to Efram Zimbalist Jnr. Efram, who was 95, died peacefully in his home.
Whilst his name may not be recognisable to some, many will know him for the voice he gave to Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne/Batman’s butler in Batman: The Animated Series, Superman and The Justice League.
Born in November 1918, Efram served in the US Infantry in World War II were he was awarded a Purple Heart for severe injuries sustained in combat. Upon leaving the service, Efram did a stint on Broadway in various theatrical productions. In 1957 Efram got his break as he had a re-occurring part on the hit tv show “Maverick” which starred James Garner.
Efram stayed with television for a number years and had parts in Hawaiian Eye and 77 Sunset Strip. However, it was in 1965 where Efram reached mega stardom as Inspector Lewis Erskine in The F.B.I. So successful was he as the title character that the show ran for 9 seasons. Few younger fans of telvison will be unfamiliar of this show, but the lengths which the actor and the shows producers went to in order to make it as real as possible were unprecedented.
W. Mark Felt, the F.B.I. associate director, later unmasked as the infamous Watergate informant Deep Throat, served as a technical advisor for the series. The FBI even had vetos on guest stars which were recently released in the original memos, that they had refused actors Robert Blake and Bette Davis from making guest appearances on the series. Due to his integrity and professionalism on the show, Efram was made an honourary member of the F.B.I.
Efram continued to work in films and televison with performances in Remington Steele, Hotel and the movie Hot Shots!. However it was in 1992 that Efram gathered a new fan base, as he provided the voice to Alfred Pennyworth in Batman: The Animated Series.
Alfred, the loyal servant, friend and confidant to Bruce Wayne/Batman instantly became a fan favourite, especially in the first season’s episode The Lion and the Unicorn. So successful was the pairing of Efram and Kevin Conroy (the actor that provided the voice of Bruce Wayne/Batman) that both he and the character continued the adventures from 1992 to 2004 (By now Batman was part of The Justice League show).
Aside from providing the voice of Alfred, Efram also provided the voice of Dr Otto Octavius or Doc Ock in the Spider-man cartoon show in 1997.
An incredibly gifted actor of both physical and vocal performances and for his professionalism, we at FTN pay tribute to Efram Zimbalist Jnr and in the words of Alfred to Bruce Wayne, we simply say “Thank You Sir.”
Efram Zimbalist Jnr – 1918-2014