Akim Tamiroff

Akim TamiroffThe internet started on this day 45 years ago. Well, sort of. That was the day that the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) established its first network link. Circuit switching is dead; long live packet switching! Exciting stuff. I’m sure the people working on the project were very pleased. I know what it is like to get technology like that working. It doesn’t matter that you know it is theoretically possible. When everything works it is an amazing feeling. Sadly, it is not a feeling that comes along very often.

On this day in 1899, the great character actor Akim Tamiroff was born. One of the great things about being a character actor is that you get to work a lot. Tamiroff was in more than 150 movies if we are to believe IMDb. And the variety of the films is remarkable. For example, he was in Preston Sturges’s silly The Great McGinty and Jean-Luc Godard’s genre defying Alphaville. I can’t find a clip from the latter film, but her he is in a very funny scene from the former:

Mostly, I know Tamiroff from his work with Orson Welles. He was in Touch of Evil, The Trial, and even the unfinished Don Quixote as Sancho. But I remember him as the old dope pusher Jakob Zouk in Mr Arkadin — the first character to be introduced and the last to be murdered by Gregory Arkadin. Unfortunately, I can’t find a clip of that either. (Well, one dubbed in Spanish.) So here he is in Topkapi. “Are you here officially?”!

I just learned that Boris Badenov on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show was inspired by Tamiroff. I can think of no greater honor. But it makes me wonder about the awful feature film, The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle. Why did they cast Jason Alexander? Everyone knows the modern Akim Tamiroff is Jon Polito!

Happy birthday Akim Tamiroff!

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