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Akim Mikhailovich Tamiroff Edit Profile


Akim Tamiroff was a popular Armenian actor.


Tamiroff was born in Tiflis, Russian Empire (now Tbilisi, Georgia), of Armenian ancestry.


Akim studied at the Moscow Art Theatre drama school. He arrived in the U.S. in 1923 on a tour with a troupe of actors and decided to stay.Tamiroff managed to develop a career in Hollywood despite his thick Russian accent.


He was quite active with the Theatre Guild during the 1920s and early '30s, then set out for Hollywood, hoping to scare up movie work. After several years' worth of bit roles, Tamiroff's film career began gaining momentum when he was signed by Paramount in 1936. He became one of the studio's top players, appearing in juicy featured roles in A-pictures and starring in such B's as The Great Gambini (1937), King of Chinatown (1938), and The Magnificent Fraud (1939). Essaying a wide variety of nationalities, Tamiroff was most frequently cast as a villain or reprobate with a deep down sentimental and/or honorable streak. He was a favorite of many directors, including Cecil B. DeMille, starring in Union Pacific (1939), Northwest Mounted Police (1940), and Preston Sturges' The Great McGinty (1940). He was twice nominated for the best supporting actor Oscar for his work in The General Died at Dawn (1936) and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943). During the 1950s, Tamiroff was a close associate of actor/director Orson Welles, who cast Tamiroff in underhanded supporting roles in Mr. Arkadin (1955), Touch of Evil (1958), and The Trial (1963), and retained his services for nearly two decades in the role of Sancho Panza in Welles' never-finished Don Quixote. Akim Tamiroff continued to flourish with meaty assignments in films like Topkapi (1964) and After the Fox (1966), rounding out his long and fruitful career with a starring assignment in the French/Italian political melodrama, Death of a Jew (1970).

Tamiroff died on September 17, 1972, from cancer. He was mentioned in J. D. Salinger's "Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut" (1942 New Yorker) He is also mentioned in Walker Percy's 1961 novel The Moviegoer.