Actor. He was often cast in villainous or unsavory roles, and played various ethnic types despite a pronounced Slavic accent. He received best supporting actor Oscar nominations for "The General Died at Dawn" (1936) and "For Whom the Bell Tolls" (1943), and won the first Golden Globe in that category for the latter film. One of his remembered roles was as the drug kingpin 'Uncle Joe Grandi' in director Orson Welles' film "Touch of Evil" (1958). Tamiroff was born in Baku, Russia. He launched his acting career at age 18 when director Konstantin Stanislavsky selected him out of 500 applicants to attend the Moscow Art Theatre School. On a US tour with a Russian troup in 1923 he decided to remain in New York and for the next decade was a key member of the Theatre Guild. Making his film debut in "Okay America" (1932), Tamiroff's notoriety took off after he was signed by Paramount in 1936; his strong screen presence and versatility assured him meaty roles in both dramas and comedies, and he successfully tackled several leads, notably in "The Magnificent Fraud" (1939) and "The Way of All Flesh" (1940). He was a favorite of directors Cecil B. DeMille and Preston Sturges, and later of Welles, who retained his services to play Sancho Panza in the sporadically filmed and never completed "Don Quixote". His credits include "The Lives of a Bengal Lancer" (1935), "The Story of Louis Pasteur" (1936), "Anthony Adverse" (1936), "The Buccaneer" (1938), "Union Pacific" (1939), "The Great McGinty" (1940), "North West Mounted Police" (1940), "Five Graves to Cairo" (1943), "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek" (1944), "Mr. Arkadin" (1955), "Ocean's Eleven" (1960), "The Trial" (1962), "Topkapi" (1964), "Lord Jim" (1965), "Alphaville" (1965), and "Death of a Jew" (1970). He died of cancer. Trivia note: Tamiroff's comic performance in "The Great McGinty" was the inspiration for the cartoon character Boris Badenov on TV's "The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show".
Bio by: Bobb Edwards
Tamara B Nikulin Shayne