Zero Mostel

Actor, Comedian, Painter
This volatile, stage-trained comic actor made his film debut playing dual roles in "Du Barry Was a Lady" (1943). Mostel's solid, bulky build and heavy-lidded eyes made him a convincing heavy, but his promising film ... Read more »
Born: 02/27/1915 in Brooklyn, New York, USA

Filmography

Actor (26)

Best Boy 1979 (Movie)

(Actor)

Watership Down 1978 (Movie)

(Voice)

The Little Drummer Boy, Book II 1976 - 1977 (TV Show)

Voice

Love, Life, Liberty & Lunch 1975 - 1976 (TV Show)

Actor

Hollywood on Trial 1975 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Journey Into Fear 1975 (Movie)

(Actor)

Mastermind 1975 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Front 1975 (Movie)

Hecky Brown (Actor)

Foreplay 1973 (Movie)

President (Actor)

Saga of Sonora 1972 - 1973 (TV Show)

Actor

Marco 1972 (Movie)

(Actor)

Once Upon a Scoundrel 1972 (Movie)

Carlos Del Refugio (Actor)

The Electric Company 1971 - 1972 (TV Show)

Voice

Rhinoceros 1971 (Movie)

John (Actor)

The Hot Rock 1971 (Movie)

Abe Greenberg (Actor)

The Angel Levine 1970 (Movie)

Morris Mishkin (Actor)

The Great Bank Robbery 1969 (Movie)

Reverend Pious Blue (Actor)

Great Catherine 1968 (Movie)

Patiomikin (Actor)

The Producers 1967 (Movie)

Max Bialystock (Actor)

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum 1966 (Movie)

Pseudolus (Actor)

Sirocco 1951 (Movie)

(Actor)

The Enforcer 1951 (Movie)

Big Babe Lazich (Actor)

Du Barry Was a Lady (Movie)

Rami the Swami/Cagliostro (Actor)

Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell (Movie)

Emmett (Actor)

Panic in the Streets (Movie)

Raymond Fitch (Actor)

The Model and the Marriage Broker (Movie)

George Wixted (Actor)
Music (1)

The Great Bank Robbery 1969 (Movie)

("The Rainbow Rider" "Heaven Helps Him Who Helps Himself") (Song Performer)

Biography

This volatile, stage-trained comic actor made his film debut playing dual roles in "Du Barry Was a Lady" (1943). Mostel's solid, bulky build and heavy-lidded eyes made him a convincing heavy, but his promising film career (e.g., "Panic in the Streets" 1950) was cut short when he was blacklisted following his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951. His fortunes revived in the early 1960s with his maniacally comic Broadway performance in "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (1962) and, as Tevye, in "Fiddler on the Roof" (1964). Mostel turned in a landmark screen performance as bamboozling Broadway producer Max Bialystock in Mel Brooks' "The Producers" (1967), and continued making regular film appearances into the late 1970s. One of his most notable later roles was in the Martin Ritt drama, "The Front" (1976), as a man facing the blacklist.

Relationships

Kate Mostel

Wife
former Rockette of Irish ancestry when Mostel married her, his parents stopped talking to him

Josh Mostel

Son
born on December 21, 1946

Tobias Mostel

Son
born on September 29, 1948

Clara Sverd

Wife
married in 1939 separated in 1941 divorced in 1944

EDUCATION

New York University

New York , New York
dropped out of master's program after one year

City College of New York

New York , New York 1935
graduated

The Education Alliance

New York , New York
took art classes as a child with such future artists as Louise Nevelson and Adolph Gottlieb

City College of New York

New York , New York 1935
graduated

Milestones

1979

Seen in footage of the documentary "Best Boy"

1978

Heard posthumously as the voice of Kehaar the seagull in the animated film "Watership Down"

1977

Last TV appearance, a guest spot on the syndicated series "The Muppet Show"

1977

Final stage performance as Shylock in "The Merchant", Arnold Wesker's reworking of Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice"

1976

Appeared alongside Woody Allen in "The Front", about the Hollywood blacklist, scripted by Walter Bernstein and directed by Martin Ritt

1974

Final Broadway appearance recreating role of Leopold Bloom in "Ulysses in Nighttown"; earned Tony nomination

1974

Recreated another stage role in the film adaptation of "Rhinoceros"

1972

Acted in the caper comedy "The Hot Rock"

1969

Co-starred in "The Angel Levine"

1968

Offered what is perhaps his best recalled film performance as outsized impresario Max Bialystock in "The Producers"

1967

Starred in the variety program "Zero Hour" (ABC)

1966

Recreated his stage role as Pseudolus in the film adaptation of "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"

1964

Delivered a well-received stage turn as Tevye the milkman in the musical "Fiddler on the Roof", adapted from the stories of Sholom Aleichem; production directed by Jerome Robbins; garnered third career Tony Award

1963

Headlined one-person special "Zero Mostel"

1962

Enjoyed hit as the star of the vaudeville-like musical "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum"; received second Tony Award

1961

Returned to Broadway after long recovery to star in Ionesco's "Rhinoceros"; received Tony Award

1960

Severely injured left leg when he was struck by a bus (January)

1960

Acted in "Zero", adapted from a Samuel Beckett play; screened at Venice Film Festival but never released theatrically in the USA

1959

Appeared in "The World of Sholom Aleichem" (syndicated)

1958

Made stage comeback in "Ulysses in Nighttown", directed by Burgess Meredith

1952

Last film for nearly a decade, "The Model and the Marriage Broker"

1952

Reteamed with Kazan for the stage drama "Flight into Egypt"

1951

Called to testify before the House Committee on UnAmerican Activities; was blacklisted

1950

Had featured role in "Panic in the Streets", helmed by Elia Kazan

1949

Acted alongside wife Kate in two Moliere plays, "The Imaginary Invalid" and "The Doctor in Spite of Himself", at the Brattle Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts

1948

Performed regularly on "Off the Record" (DuMont)

1946

Appeared in the stage musical "Beggar's Holiday"

1942

Briefly served in the US Army

1942

Feature film debut in "DuBarry Was a Lady"

1941

Broadway debut in the revue "Keep 'Em Laughing"

1941

Debut as a stand-up comic at Cafe Society in NYC; given nickname 'Zero' by club's press agent because he was "a guy starting from nothing"

1937

Hired by the Federal Arts Program to teach drawing and painting

Raised on NYC's Lower East Side

In the early 1940s, began to be hired as an entertainer at private parties

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