Nehemiah Persoff


Nehemiah Persoff was a talented actor who left a lasting impression on the world of entertainment. He was born on August 2, 1919, in Jerusalem, Palestine, and passed away on April 2, 2019, in Woodland Hills, California. Throughout his career, he appeared in numerous films, television shows, and stage productions, earning critical acclaim and a loyal fan base. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at the life, career, and iconic roles of Nehemiah Persoff, including his memorable performances in Gunsmoke, Twilight Zone, and more.

Early Life and Career

Nehemiah Persoff

Nehemiah Persoff was born to Orthodox Jewish parents in Jerusalem, Palestine. His family immigrated to the United States when he was a child, settling in New York City. Persoff initially pursued a career in art, attending the Art Students League of New York and working as a commercial artist. However, he eventually turned to acting, studying at the Dramatic Workshop of The New School in New York City.

After making his Broadway debut in 1948, Persoff began appearing in films and television shows. He quickly established himself as a versatile actor, capable of playing a wide range of characters. In the 1950s, he appeared in several classic films, including The Harder They Fall (1956) and Some Like It Hot (1959). He also made numerous television appearances, including roles on The Twilight Zone, Gunsmoke, and Gilligan’s Island.

Iconic Roles


One of Nehemiah Persoff’s most memorable roles was on the long-running television series Gunsmoke. He appeared in several episodes throughout the show’s 20-year run, playing a variety of characters. One of his most notable performances was in the episode “The Raid” (1961), in which he played a ruthless outlaw named Kuba Smith. Persoff’s portrayal of Smith was chilling and intense, earning him critical acclaim and cementing his status as one of the show’s most memorable guest stars.

The Twilight Zone

Nehemiah Persoff also appeared in several episodes of the iconic television series The Twilight Zone. One of his most memorable performances was in the episode “Judgment Night” (1959), in which he played a Nazi war criminal named Carl Lanser. Persoff’s portrayal of Lanser was nuanced and complex, highlighting the character’s inner turmoil and guilt. The episode remains one of the show’s most powerful and thought-provoking installments, due in no small part to Persoff’s performance.

Other Roles

In addition to his work on Gunsmoke and The Twilight Zone, Nehemiah Persoff appeared in numerous other films and television shows throughout his career. Some of his other notable roles include appearances in An American Tail (1986), Yentl (1983), and The Comancheros (1961). He also continued to work on stage productions, earning critical acclaim for his performances in plays such as The Merchant of Venice and The Diary of Anne Frank.


Nehemiah Persoff was a talented and versatile actor who left a lasting impression on the world of entertainment. His performances in Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, and other iconic productions continue to captivate audiences today. Although he is no longer with us, his legacy lives on through his work and the memories of those who were fortunate enough to witness his talent firsthand.

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