Actor. Born to parents of Jewish descent, he experienced his first taste of acting as a villain in an amateur production of "Pot Boiler" in 1935 and after his graduation from DeWitt Clinton High School, he toiled at several occupations. He decided to pursue a career in acting and went onto appear in several off-Broadway productions during the early 1940s, prior to making his Broadway debut in the play "Ghost For Sale" (1941). During World War II, he served with the United States Army as a combat engineer and later with the Air Force. Upon his return home, he enrolled at the Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research, where he was tutored by the acclaimed German theatre diretor Erwin Piscator. He furthered his skills at the Actors Studio in New York. He continued his association with the Broadway stage and went onto appear in the plays "Macbeth" (1948), "The Rose Tattoo" (1951) and "Middle of the Night" (1956 to 1957). He began his career in television on live programs during the early 1950s and went onto appear in scores of popular series including two separate episodes of "The Twilight Zone" (1959 and 1963). He marked his motion picture debut with a non-credited role in "On the Waterfront" and followed this with a wide range of memorable performances. He made an impression on movie audiences as the jury foreman in the classic picture "Twelve Angry Men" (1957) and was the private investigator-later murder victim in "Psycho" (1960). In "Seven Days in May" he played the president's loyal aid and in "The Bedford Incident" (1965), he was a naval physician. He received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in "A Thousand Clowns" (1965). Other memorable films include "Harlow" (1965), "Hombre" (1967), "Catch-22" (1970), "Tora Tora! Tora", "Little Big Man" (1970), "The Stone Killer" (1973), "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1974), "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974) and "All the President's Men" (1976). Balsam returned to the Broadway stage with his multi-role performance in "You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running" (1967 to 1969), for which he earned a Tony Award. He received an Emmy Award nomination for "Raid on Entebbe" (1977). Balsam may be best remembered by TV audiences for playing Murray Klein, business partner of Archie Bunker in the series "Archie Bunker's Place" (1979 to 1981). His marriage with actress Joyce Van Patten produced their daughter Talia who went onto become an actress. Balsam suffered a fatal stroke while vacationing in Rome.
Bio by: C.S.