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Subject: Archive: July 3, 1981 ~ Ross Martin dies at 61


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Date Posted: Wednesday, July 03, 09:48:58am

Actor Ross Martin Dead Of Heart Seizure

The Associated Press
July 4, 1981

Actor Ross Martin, master of disguise as a frontier secret agent on the television series
"The Wild Wild West," has died of a heart seizure
while playing tennis. He was 61.

Martin, who collected more than 200 film, television and
stage credits during his career, was stricken Friday at the
San Diego Country Estates, officials said.

A doctor playing on the next court revived Martin with
cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but he was pronounced dead
shortly afterwards at a hospital.

Martin had suffered a heart attack in 1969 but appeared in
good health when he showed up to play tennis Friday, said
tennis pro Keith Boone.

"He happened to be doing something he loved when it
happened," Boone said. "Ross always looked good to me. He
made other people happy."

Although the Polish-born Martin was seen in a variety of
charactrer roles during his career, he did not achieve
stardom until he played agent Artemus Gordon on "The Wild
Wild West" from 1965 to 1969.

The popular CBS series was set on the western frontier in
the 1870s, and featured a pair of U.S. government agents who
used sophisticated mechanical devices inspired by the
gadget-laden James Bond movies of the 1960s.

"When I heard about it I wept," said Robert Conrad, who
co-starred in the series as agent James T. West. "He was a
credit to this world, and if more people were like Ross
Martin it would be a better place to live in."

Martin said in a 1971 interview that he had turned down the
Gordon role five times.

"But I was told over and over again that I would be able to
enjoy the character actors's dream of a strong new role in
each segment," he said. "I accepted and the producer was
fired. It was three years before I got what I was promised."

The series was canceled during a controversy over TV
violence. Martin later appeared in two "Wild Wild West"
specials: "The Wild Wild West Revisited" in 1979 and "More
Wild Wild West" in October 1980.

He also starred as Chinese detective Charlie Chan in a 1971
TV special.

Born in Grodek, Poland in 1920, Martin was only a few days
old when his family came to the United States. Raised as
Martin Rosenblatt, he grew up in New York City and graduated
from the College of the City of New York with a business
degree.

He later got a law degree, but did not go into law. He got a
job in public relations, and on the side started playing
three regular roles on the "Janice Gray" radio series.

Martin began acting full time, and played in "Hazel Flagg"
on Broadway before making his film debut in 1954 in
"Conquest of Space."

He was later to star in the "Mr. Lucky" TV series, and was a
regular on "Stump the Stars.'

His film credits include "Underwater Warriors," "Experiment
in Terror," "The Great Race" and "The Ceremony."

Martin and his wife, Olavee, lived in Los Angeles, where
funeral services were pending. He also was survived by
daughters Phyllis Rosenblatt and Rebecca Schacht and son
George Martin.

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Replies:
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It's said Martin is likely the most formally educated screen actor there ever was? Martin attended City College of New York where he earned an MA in Education, and later an MBA in business, graduating magna cum laude......Soon after, he earned a law degree from the National University School of Law (now George Washington University)...all before age 21!Wednesday, July 03, 10:42:48am


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