Michael Ansara

Active - 1944 - 2011  |   Born - Apr 15, 1922 in Syria  |   Died - Jul 31, 2013   |   Genres - Action, Adventure, Drama, Western, Comedy

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Though best known for his Native American characterizations, Michael Ansara was actually of Lebanese descent. Ansara, born in Syria and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, entered Los Angeles City College in 1941, planning to become a doctor. His shyness in class prompted his professor to suggest that Ansara take a dramatics course to bolster his self-confidence. The medical profession's loss turned out to be the acting community's gain: after training at Pasadena Playhouse, Ansara blossomed as a classical actor with such groups as the Hollywood Players' Ring. The role that brought Ansara to the attention of Hollywood's higher-ups was his brief, uncredited appearance as the tormented Judas in The Robe (1953). He went on to be cast as Cochise in the 1956 TV series version of the 1950 20th Century-Fox feature Broken Arrow; while the role brought him fame and fortune, Ansara noted that "the acting range was rather limited. Cochise could do one of two things--stand with his arms folded, looking noble; or stand with his arms at his sides, looking noble." He was allowed a more flexible acting range, as well as a wider vocabulary, in his next Indian assignment, that of Harvard-educated federal marshal Sam Buckhart in the 1959 western series Law of the Plainsman. In later years, Ansara was active in the lucrative world of TV cartoon voiceover work. He was married for several years to actress Barbara Eden.

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