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Akim Tamiroff

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Title: Akim Tamiroff  
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Subject: Alphaville (film), The Great McGinty, Black Magic (1949 film), Orson Welles, Ride a Crooked Mile
Collection: 1899 Births, 1972 Deaths, 20Th-Century American Male Actors, American Male Film Actors, American Male Stage Actors, American People of Armenian Descent, American People of Russian Descent, Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe (Film) Winners, Cancer Deaths in California, Eastern Orthodox Christians from Russia, Ethnic Armenian Actors, Ethnic Armenian Male Actors, Imperial Russian Emigrants to the United States, Members of the Russian Orthodox Church, People from Tbilisi, Russian Armenians, Soviet Armenians, Soviet Emigrants to the United States
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Akim Tamiroff

Akim Tamiroff
Akim Tamiroff in the Netherlands in 1964
Born (1899-10-29)October 29, 1899
Tiflis, Tiflis Governorate, Russian Empire
Died September 17, 1972(1972-09-17) (aged 72)
Palm Springs, California, U.S.
Years active 1932–1972
Spouse(s) Tamara Shayne (1932–1972; his death)

Akim Mikhailovich Tamiroff (Russian: Аким Михайлович Тамиров; birth name` Hovakim, Armenian: Հովակիմ; 29 October 1899 – 17 September 1972) was an ethnic Armenian actor. He won the first Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor, was nominated twice for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and appeared in at least 80 American motion pictures in a career spanning thirty-seven years.


  • Biography 1
    • Film career 1.1
    • Legacy 1.2
  • Personal 2
  • Partial filmography 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Tamiroff was born in Armenian ancestry.[1] He trained 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.[2][3] Tamiroff managed to develop a career in Hollywood despite his thick Russian accent.

Film career

In Touch of Evil (1958)

Tamiroff's film debut came in 1932 in an uncredited role in Okay, America!. He performed in several more uncredited roles until 1935, when he co-starred in The Lives of a Bengal Lancer. He also appeared in the lavish epic China Seas in 1935 with Clark Gable, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Rosalind Russell and Robert Benchley. The following year, he was cast in the titular role in The General Died at Dawn with Gary Cooper, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He appeared in the 1937 musical High, Wide, and Handsome with Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott, and the 1938 proto-noir Dangerous to Know opposite Anna May Wong, frequently singled out as his best role.

In the following decade, he appeared in such films as Ocean's 11 (1960) with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin's Rat Pack, Topkapi (1964) with Peter Ustinov, Alphaville (1965), and had a long collaboration with Orson Welles including Touch of Evil (1958) with Charlton Heston, Mr Arkadin (1955), The Trial (1962) and Welles' unfinished version of Don Quixote, in which he played Sancho Panza.


While Tamiroff may not be a household name now, his malapropistic performance as the boss in The Great McGinty inspired the cartoon character Boris Badenov, the male half of the villainous husband-and-wife team Boris and Natasha on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. He was also spoofed in a 1969 episode of the TV show H.R. Pufnstuf entitled "The Stand-in" in which a frog named "Akim Toadanoff" directs a movie on Living Island.


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 The Moviegoer, Walker Percy's novel of 1961.[4]

Partial filmography


  1. ^ The Multi-Russian: Akim Tamiroff. (2007-05-13). Retrieved on 2014-04-01.
  2. ^ 'Practice Fun' Music Studio. Retrieved on 2014-04-01.
  3. ^ Akim Tamiroff at the Wayback Machine (archived December 3, 2010). Retrieved on 2014-04-01.
  4. ^ The Moviegoer (New York: Vintage, 1998), 165

External links

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