Michael Ansara

Michael Ansara
Michael Ansara Law of the Plainsman 1959.JPG
Michael Ansara in Law of the Plainsman (1959)
Born (1922-04-15)April 15, 1922
Died July 31, 2013(2013-07-31) (aged 91)
Resting place Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, U.S.
Nationality American
Education A.A. from Los Angeles City College
Alma mater Los Angeles City College
Occupation Actor
Years active 1944–1999
Known for
Notable work
Home town Lowell, Massachusetts
Height 6 ft 3 in (1.90 m)
m. 1955; div. 1956)

m. 1958; div. 1974)

Beverly Kushida
m. 1977;
his death 
Children 1
Awards Hollywood Walk of Fame, Western Heritage Award, Saturn Award

Michael George Ansara (April 15, 1922 – July 31, 2013) was an American stage, screen, and voice actor. He portrayed Cochise in the television series Broken Arrow, Kane in the 1979–1981 series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, Commander Kang in three episodes of the Star Trek television series, Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Buckhart in the NBC series Law of the Plainsman, and provided the voice for Mr. Freeze in Batman: The Animated Series and several of its spin-offs.[1][2]

Early life

Michael George Ansara was born in a small village in the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon, and his family emigrated to the United States when he was two years old.[3][4] He was of Lebanese descent.[5] They lived in Lowell, Massachusetts, for a decade before moving to California. He originally wanted to be a physician, but developed a passion for becoming a performer after he began taking acting classes at Pasadena Playhouse to overcome his shyness. He was educated at Los Angeles City College, from which Ansara earned an Associate of Arts degree.[3] Ansara served as a medic in the army during World War II.[5]


Early work

During the 1950s, Ansara appeared in several episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents. He appeared in a 1951 episode of The Lone Ranger titled "Trouble at Black Rock." In 1953, he appeared as Pindarus in Joseph Mankiewicz' big screen adaptation of Julius Caesar, with Marlon Brando, James Mason and John Gielgud. However, the popular television series Broken Arrow (1956), wherein he played the lead role of Cochise, raised Ansara's profile and made him a household name. While making the series, the 20th Century-Fox publicity department arranged a date between Ansara and actress Barbara Eden. The two later married and Ansara guest-starred on Eden's sitcom I Dream of Jeannie as the Blue Djinn. He also played King Kamehameha in the Jeannie episode "The Battle of Waikīkī", and in the final season, he played Major Biff Jellico in the episode "My Sister, the Home Wrecker". Ansara and Eden divorced in 1974. The couple had one son together, actor Matthew Ansara, who died on June 25, 2001, of a heroin overdose.

Ansara starred in his own ABC-TV series, Law of the Plainsman (1959–1960), with Gina Gillespie and Robert Harland. He performed as an Apache Indian named Sam Buckhart, who had been appointed as a U.S. Marshal. The series began as an episode of The Rifleman.

Ansara also played in Biblical epics: The Robe (1953) as Judas Iscariot, The Ten Commandments (1956) as a taskmaster (uncredited), and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) as Herod's commander. He also appeared as Belshazzar in Columbia's 1953 movie Slaves of Babylon.

Later career

In 1961, Ansara played the role of Miguel Alvarez in the film Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, co-starring with Barbara Eden and Walter Pidgeon, who played the role of Admiral Harriman Nelson. Ansara later appeared in an episode of the television series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, playing the rebel sub commander Captain Ruiz in "Killers Of The Deep" (1966). He also appeared in the episode "Hot Line" (broadcast on November 9, 1964) as a Soviet scientist who disarms a defective Soviet atomic satellite that has crashed off the coast of California and he appeared as Carl in the episode "Night Visitors" of the NBC anthology series The Barbara Stanwyck Show.

In 1962, he starred in a Broadway show with the silent film actor Ramon Novarro.

In 1964, he made his only guest appearance on Perry Mason as Vince Kabat in "The Case of the Antic Angel." Also that year, he played the lead character of "Qarlo," the Soldier in an episode of The Outer Limits. It opened the second season of shows on 19 September 1964 and was written by acclaimed fantasy writer and novelist Harlan Ellison, adapting it from his short story "Soldier from Tomorrow."

He starred in a supporting role in the 1965 Elvis Presley film, Harum Scarum. His wife, Barbara Eden, had starred in an earlier Elvis film, 1960's Flaming Star.

Ansara played the Ruler on episode 22, "The Challenge," of the television series Lost in Space (March 2, 1966) with a young Kurt Russell as his son Quano. Later that same year, Ansara appeared in the feature film Texas Across the River with Dean Martin. He also appeared on Daniel Boone as Red Sky in a 1966 episode. In another 1966 episode of that series, Ansara portrayed Sebastian Drake. He played two different characters in two episodes of the 1966 science fiction television series The Time Tunnel, Colonel Hruda in episode #11 and the Curator in episode #28 .

Ansara continued appearing in guest starring roles on television, including "The Savage Street", a 1967 episode of the ABC action drama series The Fugitive, "On a Clear Night You Can See Earth", a 1969 episode of the ABC-TV series Land of the Giants, and "The Western", the penultimate episode of the original CBS television series Mission: Impossible, which aired in 1973.

In 1976, Ansara starred in the movie Mohammad, Messenger of God (also titled The Message), about the origin of Islam and the message of prophet Mohammad.

In 1978, he starred in the acclaimed miniseries Centennial, based on the novel by James A. Michener. Ansara played the Indian leader Lame Beaver, whose descendants are showcased throughout the centuries alongside the growth of the West and the town that the novel and miniseries are named after.

Ansara played the recurring role of Killer Kane in the 1979-1980 season of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

He narrated Paul Goble's "The Gift of the Sacred Dog" at Crow Agency, Montana, on June 17, 1983, and Sheila MacGill-Callahan's "And Still the Turtle Watched" on October 21, 1993, on the PBS series Reading Rainbow.

In 1988, Ansara appeared in an episode of the television series Murder, She Wrote titled "The Last Flight of the Dixie Damsel".

In 1992, he voiced Mr. Freeze in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice", and won critical acclaim for his performance as the iconic villain. He went on to voice Mr. Freeze in the animated film Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, an episode of both The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond, and the video game Batman: Vengeance.

In 1994, Ansara portrayed the Technomage Elric in the Babylon 5 episode "The Geometry of Shadows".

Star Trek

He is one of nine actors to play the same character (in his case the Klingon commander Kang) on three Star Trek television series – the original series ("Day of the Dove"), Deep Space Nine ("Blood Oath") and Voyager ("Flashback").

Awards and honors

Ansara was nominated for a Saturn Award, and has won a Western Heritage Award for Rawhide.[6]

On February 8, 1960, Ansara received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his work in the television industry, located at 6666 Hollywood Boulevard.[7][8]

Personal life

Wife Barbara Eden and their son Matthew (1966)

Ansara was married three times, first to actress Jean Byron in 1955; the couple divorced in 1956. In 1958, Ansara married Barbara Eden, who is best known for starring in I Dream of Jeannie. In 1961, Michael and Barbara both co-starred in Irwin Allen's Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.[9][circular reference] The couple had a son named Matthew Ansara born in 1965. Ansara and Eden divorced in 1974, and he married actress Beverly Kushida in 1977.[10] On June 25, 2001, his son Matthew died from a drug overdose in Monrovia, California. Ansara was a Greek Orthodox Christian.[11][12][13]


Ansara died from complications of Alzheimer's disease[14] at his home in Calabasas on July 31, 2013, at the age of 91.[15] His interment is at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, next to his son Matthew.[16]

TV and filmography

Year Title Role Notes
1978 Dr. Strange Ancient One (voice) TV Movie
1998 Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero Dr. Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze (voice) Direct-to-video
Year Title Role Notes
1968 Star Trek: The Original Series Kang Episode: "Day of the Dove"
1981 Thundarr the Barbarian Vashtar (voice) Episode: "Prophecy of Peril"
1981 Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends Hiawatha Smith (voice) Episode: "Quest of the Red Skull"
1986 Rambo: The Force of Freedom General Warhawk (voice) 63 Episodes
1994 Babylon 5 Elric Episode: "The Geometry of Shadows"
1992-1994 Batman: The Animated Series Mr. Freeze / Dr. Victor Fries (voice) Episodes: "Heart of Ice" and "Deep Freeze"
1994-1996 Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Jeyal / Kang Episodes: "Blood Oath" and "The Muse"
1996 Star Trek: Voyager Kang Episode: "Flashback"
1997 The New Batman Adventures Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze (voice) Episode: "Cold Comfort"
1999 Batman Beyond Episode: "Meltdown"


  1. ^ Eden, Barbara; Leigh, Wendy (2011). Jeannie Out of the Bottle. New York City: Crown Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0307886958.
  2. ^ Radical Citizenship. Working Papers for a New Society. 2–3. London: Cambridge Policy Studies Institute, & Bouchier. 1974. p. 28.
  3. ^ a b Peterson, Alison J. (August 2, 2013). "Michael Ansara, Actor Who Played Cochise and Kang, Dies at 91". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved August 2, 2013.
  4. ^ Associated Press (August 3, 2013). "Michael Ansara, TV and movie actor raised in Lowell, dies". The Sun. Lowell, Massachusetts: MediaNews Group. Retrieved August 3, 2013.
  5. ^ a b Aaker, Everett (May 27, 2017). Television Western Players, 1960-1975. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. ii. ISBN 9781476662503.
  6. ^ "Michael Ansara". IMDb. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  7. ^ "Michael Ansara | Hollywood Walk of Fame". www.walkoffame.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  8. ^ "Michael Ansara". latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  9. ^ Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea
  10. ^ Alison J. Peterson (August 2, 2013). "Michael Ansara, Actor Who Played Cochise and Kang, Dies at 91". New York Times.
  11. ^ "Barbara Eden's Son Found Dead". ABC News. 2006-01-06. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  12. ^ "Tragic Waste : People.com". www.people.com. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  13. ^ "Barbara Eden on Son's Overdose". ABC News. 2006-01-06. Retrieved 2016-07-27.
  14. ^ "Michael Ansara, Actor Who Played Cochise and Kang, Dies at 91". The New York Times. August 3, 2013. Retrieved May 10, 2016.
  15. ^ Goodman, Jessica (August 2, 2013). "Michael Ansara Dead: 'Star Trek' Actor Dies At 91". Huffington Post.
  16. ^ Wilson, Scott. Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed.: 2 (Kindle Locations 1357-1358). McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. Kindle Edition.

External links