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Albert Salmi Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (2) | Spouse (2) | Trivia (3) | Personal Quotes (1)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 11 March 1928Brooklyn, New York, USA
Date of Death 22 April 1990Spokane, Washington, USA  (he and his wife died in a murder/suicide at their home.)
Birth NameAlfred Salmi
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (2)

Albert Salmi was born on March 11, 1928, in Brooklyn, New York, to Finnish parents. After serving in the Army during WWII, he used the GI Bill to study at the Dramatic Workshop of the American Theater Wing and the prestigious Actors Studio. He became a stage actor, very soon landing on Broadway, where his role as Bo Decker in "Bus Stop" was his biggest stage success. A compromise between the stage and screen was live TV drama, in which he was cast regularly. His portrayal of Bruce Pearson in the The United States Steel Hour (1953)'s live 1956 broadcast of "Bang the Drum Slowly" was heart-tuggingly poignant. Salmi's very first film appearance was a choice role in The Brothers Karamazov (1958), for which he turned down an Oscar nomination. The National Board of Review succeeded in presenting him with its award for the same picture, however. Salmi came to enjoy film work and actively sought out parts in westerns. He became a very familiar presence, especially on the TV screen, where he guest starred in many of the westerns and other series of the 1960s and 1970s.

In 1967 he was presented with the Western Heritage (Wrangler) Award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame for his role in the Gunsmoke (1955) episode entitled "Death Watch". This bronze cowboy on horseback became his most cherished award. Salmi demonstrated his versatility, however, as years went on. Tall, brawny and sometimes quite intimidating, he was often cast as the bad guy or the authority figure. He was equally convincing, though, as a wronged or misunderstood good guy or a good-natured sidekick. A method actor, Salmi had the ability to make you love or hate his character.

He was, in real life, quite different from most of the characters he played. A quiet-natured family man, he was an oddity by glitzy Hollywood standards. Many of his friends and co-stars have commented on his sense of humor and his lack of pretense. In semi-retirement, he shared his knowledge of theatre by teaching drama classes in Spokane, Washington, where he and his wife settled.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Sandra Grabman <srgrabman@cableone.net>

"Finland's Favorite Son" was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1928 to Finnish immigrants Svante and Ida Salmi. They lived in a Finnish community, and Albert's parents only spoke Finnish around the home. Whereas some kids might enjoy playing hooky, when Albert reported for his first day of school, his teacher told him to come back when he could speak English. Well, he finally got into school and did all right for himself; he graduated from high school and, like many young men after WW II, he signed up with the Army. After a three-year hitch with Uncle Sam, he took acting classes and started his acting career on the stage. In 1953 he made his Broadway debut in "End As a Man" with R.G. Armstrong and Pat Hingle, and the three became friends. His biggest success was in the Broadway production of "Bus Stop" in 1955. He played Beauregard (which is French for "good looking") Decker, and continued to develop his craft; he later wrote: "The actor learns from the audience, if the actor is aware." In 1956 he married Peggy Ann Garner and they had a beautiful daughter, Catherine Ann Salmi, who everyone called "Cas" (her initials turned into a nickname). He would be cast in over three dozen movies and was nominated for an Academy award for The Brothers Karamazov (1958) playing opposite screen legend Yul Brynner. He also started making guest appearances on dozens of TV series, including many prestigious ones. He portrayed Steve "Country Boy" Parrish in The Untouchables (1959), in the episode "Power Play"; he was trapped by Mary Fickett, who had the bad habit of trying to keep wild things in a cage--Albert and her raccoon came to a bad end. Albert was in three episodes of the ground-breaking science-fiction anthology series Twilight Zone (1959); the best-loved of these is the hour-long episode: "Of Late, I Think of Cliffordville", in which Mr. Feathersmith, a business tycoon who was sad because he had no more worlds to conquer, made a deal with the devil (portrayed devilishly alluringly by Julie Newmar) to go back in time, from 1963 to 1910, to start all over again.

In 1963 he and Peggy divorced, and in 1964 he married Roberta Pollock; they would have two wonderful kids, Lizanne and Jennifer Salmi. Albert played a wide variety of roles with gusto. He was a desperate criminal in T.H.E. Cat (1966) in the episode "Brotherhood." He appeared in the Matt Helm movie The Ambushers (1967) with Dean Martin, and showed a real flair for comedy when they teamed again in the western spoof Something Big (1971); Salmi was the wanted outlaw who was going to trade a Gatling gun for a woman, and watching him and Dino hilariously discussing the deal was enough to make people wish they would do more comedy together. The TV series Petrocelli (1974), where he played Pete Ritter, gave his fans a weekly showcase of his talents. He kept appearing in movies, too, such as Steel (1979) with R.G. Armstrong and a pair of movies that had occult themes, Burned at the Stake (1981) and Superstition (1982). In semi-retirement, he moved his family to Washington state.

Although he was disappointed with youth-oriented Hollywood, where veteran actors such as he weren't appreciated, he seemed to be overcoming a bout with depression, and had started writing his memoirs. Everyone was shocked by what happened next. On Monday, April 23, 1990, police found the bodies of Albert and Roberta, both dead of gunshot wounds. Albert had been shot in the heart, with a Colt .45, and Roberta with a different gun, a .25-caliber. We may never learn what really happened, what brought about this tragic end. But Albert Salmi is fondly remembered by family and friends as a great actor and a great man.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: kdhaisch@aol.com (qv's & corrections by A. Nonymous)

Spouse (2)

Roberta Pollock (25 April 1964 - 22 April 1990) (their deaths) (2 children)
Peggy Ann Garner (16 May 1956 - 13 March 1963) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (3)

Father of Jennifer Salmi.
Daughter Catherine Ann Salmi died of premature heart disease in 1995 at the age of 38.
Father of Lizanne Salmi.

Personal Quotes (1)

[In 1990, regarding his early years at the Actor's Studio in New York] The actor wanted the audience to recognize an unsavory character as truthfully as he could, so that any audience seeing it would be repelled by that individual and vow never to be like him. If one person left a performance saying, "I will never be as bad as that character was", the actor felt fulfilled. If the person left the theater better than he entered it, we felt we were accomplishing something. The reverse was true, too. If one in the audience saw and believed the goodness in the human condition and sought to emulate this behavior, we, the actors, felt a warm sense of accomplishment. Sometimes, people would come backstage in these amateur school productions and state in an oblique way that they were better people for seeing the production. This was better than any award an actor could get, and still is!

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