Job Actor, teacher, engineer
Years active 1934-1984
Known for Obscure foreign characterizations
Top Roles Gunga Din, High Lama, Professor Jacob Barnhardt, Gregory Simonson, Sam Cooper
Top GenresDrama, Romance, Adventure, Action, Film Noir, Comedy
Top TopicsBook-Based, Romance (Drama), New York
Top Collaborators , , (Director), (Director)
Shares birthday with Barry Fitzgerald, Gregory La Cava, Richard Haydn  see more..

Sam Jaffe Overview:

Character actor, Sam Jaffe, was born Shalom Jaffe on Mar 10, 1891 in New York City, NY. Jaffe died at the age of 93 on Mar 24, 1984 in Beverly Hills, Los Angeles and was laid to rest in Eden Memorial Park Cemetery in Mission Hills, CA.


Sam Jaffe looked wizened even in early middle age, and specialized in obscure foreign characterizations -- Tibetan, Indian, Russian, Israeli and Mexican were only a few. His film appearances were limited by his prolific stage work, but his roles have often been memorable, notably his native water-carrier in Gunga Din and his High Lama in Lost Horizon. He was married to actress Bettye Acherman (2nd of two wives) from 1955 until his death in 1984; she appeared with him during his years as Dr. Zorba in TV's Ben Casey. He was nominated for an Oscar in The Asphalt Jungle. He died from cancer.

(Source: available at Amazon Quinlan's Illustrated Dictionary of Film Character Actors).



Although Jaffe was nominated for one Oscar, he never won a competitive Academy Award.

Academy Awards

YearAwardFilm nameRoleResult
1950Best Supporting ActorThe Asphalt Jungle (1950)Dr. Erwin RiedenschneiderNominated

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By Amanda Garrett on Feb 25, 2015 From Old Hollywood Films

was one of old Hollywood's most sought after character actors appearing in films like Gunga Din (1939), The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Ben Hur (1959), but he was also a talented composer and mathematician. Shalom Jaffe was born on March 10, 1891, in the Lower East Side of New ... Read full article

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Sam Jaffe Quotes:

Doc Riedenschneider: Let's not stop. Wait till we get out of town, when we can do everything at once. Have a little meal, beer, a cigar. Go in comfort.
Frank Schurz, taxi driver: I can see you're a man who likes his pleasures.
Doc Riedenschneider: Well, Franz, what else is there in life, I ask you?

Simonides: Judah-Ben Hur! You've come back to us like a returning faith! Oh Judah, I should like to laugh again. Let us laugh!
Judah Ben-Hur: We will laugh.
Simonides: There will be joy again in this house! We will celebrate! Among the dust and cobwebs...
[Simonides sobs]

Dr. Francis Hunter: [In an alcoholic haze to Mike] You'll spoil the rhythm of Dr. Hunter's famous prescription for pickling the heart: one injection every 15 minutes.
[He finishes a shot of whiskey, and the bartender pours him three more]
Dr. Francis Hunter: The rhythm is very important.

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Best Supporting Actor Oscar 1950

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Sam Jaffe Facts
He was a victim of the Hollywood blacklist during the HUAC hearings. Although he had already been signed, 20th Century-Fox wanted to remove him from The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Producer Julian Blaustein felt that Jaffe was so crucial for the role of the Albert Einstein-like Prof. Barnhardt that he appealed to studio chief Darryl F. Zanuck. Zanuck approved Jaffe for the role, but it was his last Hollywood film until the late 1950s.

His cousin Alma's grandson is NYC amateur comedian Jeremy Jacobs.

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