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Patrick Macnee
Antonio Margheriti
Chris Marker
Hugh Marlowe
William Marshall
Arlene Martel
Ross Martin
Richard Matheson
Sir Paul McCartney
Roddy McDowall
Leo McKern
Lee Meriwether
Ricardo Montalban
Agnes Moorhead
Billy Mumy
Eddie Murphy
 
MARTIN, ROSS
(Martin Rosenblatt 1920– ). American actor.

SCIENCE FICTION, FANTASY, AND HORROR FILM CREDITS
Acted in: "I Dreamt I Died" (1949), "A Toast to Sergeant Farnsworth," "The Gloves of Gino" (1950), "The Man with the Astrakhan Hat" (1951), episodes of Lights Out; "Duckweather and the Professor" (1953), episode of Johnny Jupiter; Conquest of Space (Byron HASKIN 1955); The Colossus of New York (Eugene LOURIE 1958); "Echo" (1959), episode of One Step Beyond; "The Four of Us Are Dying" (1960), "Death Ship" (1963), episodes of The Twilight Zone; The Wild, Wild West (tv series) (1965-1969); The Great Race (Blake Edwards 1965); "White Elephants Don't Grow on Trees" (1970), episode of The Immortal; "Camera Obscura" (1971), "The Other Way Out" (1972), episodes of Night Gallery;  "The Fine Art of Diplomacy" (1975), episode of The Invisible Man; "Minotaur" (1976), episode of The Gemini Man;  "Abraham's Sacrifice" (1978), episode of Greatest Heroes of the Bible;  "IRAC Is Missing" (1978), episode of The New Adventures of Wonder Woman; "All the Emperor's Quasi-Norms" (1978), two-part episode of Quark; The Wild, Wild West Revisited (tv movie) (Burt Kennedy 1979); More Wild, Wild West (tv movie) (Kennedy 1980); "The Look Alikes / Winemaker" (1979), "The Devil and Mandy Breem / The Millionaire" (1980),  episodes of Fantasy Island; "Mork and the Bum Rap" (1981), episode of Mork and Mindy.

Provided voice for animated films: The Man from Button Willow (David Detiege 1965); Sealab 2020 (tv series) (1972); "The Last of the Curlews" (1972), episode of ABC Afterschool Specials; "Model Alice" (1974), episode of Wait Till Your Father Gets Home; The Skatebirds (tv series) (1977-1978); The Godzilla Power Hour (tv series) (1978); The Robonic Stooges (tv series) (1978); The All-New Popeye Hour (tv series) (1978-1983); Jana of the Jungle (tv series) (1978-1979);  Gulliver's Travels (tv movie) (1979).

 
A man with a life-threatening heart condition, one might imagine, would be a subdued, somber sort of fellow; how strange it is, then, that Ross Martin has imprinted upon the zeitgeist an image of boundless energy and unfailing cheerfulness. But there was a frailty of another sort about his screen persona—an aura of perpetual immaturity, of a reluctance to assume responsibility, that forever drove this skilled performer into supporting roles.

A master of several languages, with experience as a musician, singer, and comedian, Martin seemed ready for anything when he launched his career as a film actor in the 1950s. But appearances on television, and a small role in Byron HASKIN's Conquest of Space, made little demands on his talents. He was rather more central to the success of Eugene LOURIE's singular The Colossus of New York; although onscreen for only a short time before his character's untimely death, his ability to seem kind and likable is crucial so that audiences can sympathize with the homicidal robot that is later home, audiences are told, to his transplanted brain. Around the same time, as an early sign of his destiny, he landed a recurring role as the sidekick to an altruistic gambler in the series Mr. Lucky (1959-1960), and he seemed especially poignant as one of the spaceship crewmen confronting the reality of their own deaths in "Death Ship," an episode of The Twilight Zone.

What really made him famous, of course, was his performance as master of disguise and resourceful assistant to Robert Conrad's James West in the series The Wild, Wild West, now heralded as an anticipation of "steampunk" for its combination of nineteenth-century heroics and anachronistic high-tech, and a rare instance of a successful combination of the western and science fiction genres. And while ostensible star Conrad was doing what dozens of actors might have done, it was Martin's unique versatility and bonhomie that made this odd series work. Proof of that came in 1968, when Martin had a severe heart attack, the series floundered with second-rate replacements, the ratings suffered, and the series was cancelled. Network executives surely realized that the ratings would bounce back upon Martin's return, but it was obviously unwise to carry on with a series when its success depended upon the uncertain health of a lead performer. (Much later, Kevin Kline's lame re-enactment of his part in the movie version of Wild, Wild West [1998] would again demonstrate just how irreplaceable Martin was.)

After the end of The Wild, Wild West, defying the odds, Martin remained active as a television guest star for twelve years, with highlights including a nice turn as a vengeful victim in a horrific episode of Night Gallery, "Camera Obscura," and an enjoyable Charlie Chan that might have led to a series if Asian-American groups had not objected to the casting of a non-Asian in the role. He seemed especially attractive to producers of short-lived, forgotten science fiction series, who might have dreamed that his on-screen enthusiasm and charisma might somehow breathe life into doomed projects like The Immortal, The Invisible Man, The Gemini Man, and Quark. Two well-received television movie revivals of The Wild, Wild West, with Martin still effectively heroic as he neared the age of sixty, reportedly were going to lead to a second series when Martin's death brought an end to the plans, for it is hard to think of another television series that so decisively demonstrated that science-fictional heroics often require enthusiastic, and reassuringly down-to-earth, support.

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