Nehemiah Persoff Overview:

Character actor, Nehemiah Persoff, was born on Aug 2, 1919 in Jerusalem, Palestine (now Israel). Persoff died at the age of 102 on Apr 5, 2022 in San Luis Obispo, CA from congestive heart failure .


Powerful, stockily-built, Israeli-born actor with dark, fuzzy hair. In America from the age of nine, he worked at one time as a subway electrician, but in post-war years, he enrolled at the Actors' Studio, emerging in the late 1940s and becoming a film regular from the mid-1950s, often in intense, aggressive roles, but later in more routine "guest star"-type spots as professors, elders, and the like.

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Film Character Actors: an Illustrated Directory).



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Nehemiah Persoff Quotes:

Little Bonaparte: [thick Italian accent] Thank you, fellow opera-lovers. It's been ten years since I elected myself president of dis organization... an' if I say so myself, you made duh right choice. Let's look at duh record: In duh lass fissel year we made a hundred an' twelve million dollars before taxes... only we ain't paying no taxes!

Blaise Starrett: I'm through being reasonable. I told Crane what would happen if he strung that wire.
Dan, Starret's Foreman: Blaise, we've pulled over some hard hills together, and I've rode behind you all the way. But a wire fence is a poor excuse to make a widow out of Crane's wife. What have you been thinking about all winter - Crane's barb wire fence, or Crane's pretty wife, Helen?

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Nehemiah Persoff Facts
He was the obscure cab driver in the famous "I coulda been a contender..." scene with Marlon Brando and Rod Steiger in the classic movie On the Waterfront (1954).

Once asked why he chose acting as a profession, he stated that the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe compelled him to prove himself worthy of his "gift of life."

When the Actors Studio was formed in 1947 Persoff was in the first "beginner's" class directed by Elia Kazan. Among his fellow students were Julie Harris, Steven Hill, Cloris Leachman, 'James Whitmore' (QV), Martin Balsam, Kim Hunter and Jocelyn Brando (Marlon Brando's sister.).

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