Zimbalist died at his home in Solvang, California, his
daughter, actress Stephanie Zimbalist, and his son Efrem
Zimbalist III, said in a statement, Hollywood trade magazine
Variety and other media reported.
"A devout Christian, he actively enjoyed his life to the last
day, showering love on his extended family, playing golf, and
visiting with close friends," the statement said, according to
A spokesman for the family could not be immediately reached for
From the late 1950s to the mid-1970s, Zimbalist was one of the
top stars on U.S. television, playing a private detective on the
ABC series "77 Sunset Strip" from 1958 to 1964 before his stint
on "The F.B.I." on the same network from 1965 to 1974.
Zimbalist, the son of opera singer Alma Gluck and concert
violinist Efrem Zimbalist Sr., also appeared in about 20 movies
- usually in supporting roles but sometimes as the leading man.
He was born on Nov. 30, 1918, in New York and saw U.S. Army
combat duty during World War Two.
During its nine seasons on the air, "The F.B.I." dramatized the
Federal Bureau of Investigation as its agents solved murders,
kidnappings and bank heists. Its episodes - inspired by real
cases - required FBI approval.
Zimbalist portrayed Erskine as an assiduous, dedicated
investigator during an era when the FBI in real life was
embroiled in America's tumult during the Vietnam War era.
The actor said the FBI's larger-than-life director J. Edgar
Hoover was initially reluctant to give his permission for the
series and "was not a lover of Hollywood." The two eventually
met and had a steady correspondence.
In 2009, the FBI honored Zimbalist, at age 90, in a ceremony
in Los Angeles in which agency Director Robert Mueller presented
him with an honorary special agent badge.
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Mueller said Zimbalist over the years helped the FBI by narrating
recruitment commercials and taking part in fundraising events for
children of agents killed in the line of duty.
"I'm a conservative Republican," Zimbalist told the Oklahoman
newspaper in 2011. "And I wasn't a friend of the FBI just because I
was in the show. My philosophy is the same. I was deeply aware of
the sentiment against the bureau and against Hoover."
On "77 Sunset Strip," a show that was more carefree than "The F.B.I,"
Zimbalist played wisecracking private detective Stu Bailey, starring
alongside Roger Smith and Edd Byrnes.
Zimbalist appeared occasionally with his daughter Stephanie
Zimbalist on her 1980s TV series "Remington Steele" with Pierce
Brosnan, and later did voice work for animated TV shows.
His supporting movie roles included parts in "House of Strangers"
(1949) with Edward G. Robinson, "Band of Angels" (1957) with Clark
Gable and Sidney Poitier, "Too Much, Too Soon" (1958) with Errol
Flynn, "Airport 1975" (1974) with Charlton Heston and "Hot Shots!"
(1991) with Charlie Sheen.
He was sometimes a leading man, as in "Harlow" in 1965 with Carol
Lynley and "The Chapman Report" in 1962 with Jane Fonda.
(Reporting by Will Dunham; Editing by Eric M. Johnson, Robert Birsel
and Pravin Char)
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