Albert Salmi

Albert Salmi (March 11, 1928 – April 22, 1990) was an American actor of stage, film, and television. Best known for his work as a character actor, he appeared in over 150 film and television productions.[1]

Albert Salmi
in the trailer for The Brothers Karamazov (1958)
Born(1928-03-11)March 11, 1928
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
DiedApril 22, 1990(1990-04-22) (aged 62)
Cause of deathMurder–suicide by gunshot
Resting placeGreenwood Memorial Terrace, Spokane, Washington
EducationHaaren High School
Years active1955–1989
Peggy Ann Garner
(m. 1956; div. 1963)

Roberta Pollock Taper
(m. 1964; died 1990)

Early life

Salmi was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York City, the son of Finnish immigrant parents.[1] He attended Haaren High School in Manhattan. Following a stint in the United States Army during World War II, Salmi took up acting as a career, studying method acting at the Actors Studio in Manhattan with Lee Strasberg.[2]


In 1955, Salmi starred as Bo Decker in the play Bus Stop on Broadway, and also performed in the touring production of the play. His performance was praised by critics and Salmi was offered the chance to reprise the role in the 1956 film Bus Stop starring Marilyn Monroe. Salmi turned down the offer because he did not enjoy film work. (Don Murray was later cast as Bo and earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance.)[3] Salmi turned down several other offers to make films before he finally accepted a role as Smerdjakov in the 1958 film The Brothers Karamazov, with Yul Brynner, Lee J. Cobb, William Shatner, and Richard Basehart. Salmi's next film was The Bravados in which he played one of the villains who is hunted down by hero Gregory Peck. The National Board of Review presented Salmi with the NBR Award for Best Supporting Actor for his work in both of these films.

Despite his numerous appearances in the medium, he held the opinion of many Actors Studio alumni that roles in film and television were "inferior" to stage work.[4] One of his first television appearances was in the 1956 live, televised adaptation of the novel Bang the Drum Slowly, featured on the anthology series The United States Steel Hour opposite Paul Newman and George Peppard.[5] He also had several memorable roles on CBS's The Twilight Zone including "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville", "A Quality of Mercy" and "Execution". In 1963, he portrayed John Day and Rivers in the episode "Incident of the Pale Rider" on CBS's Rawhide. In 1964–65 he appeared with Fess Parker as "Yadkin" in the first season of the Daniel Boone TV series. He later appeared twice as the incorrigible pirate, Alonzo P. Tucker on Lost in Space. He appeared in a 1967 episode of Gunsmoke as a killer who comes to an ironic end. For that performance, Salmi was awarded a Western Heritage Award.[3]

Salmi also had guest starring roles in numerous television series including The Virginian, Have Gun — Will Travel, Naked City, The Investigators, Combat!, Stoney Burke, Bonanza, The Travels of Jaimie McPheeters, Redigo, The Big Valley, Twelve O'clock High, The Legend of Jesse James, Custer, The Eleventh Hour, Hawaii Five O, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Road West, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Route 66, Lost in Space, "That Girl", Land of the Giants, The Fugitive, Night Gallery, Kung Fu, The A-Team, and Knight Rider, as well as TV miniseries such as Once an Eagle and 79 Park Avenue. From 1974 to 1976, Salmi co-starred in the NBC legal drama, Petrocelli as local investigator Pete Ritter.[6] A high point of Salmi's career came in 1968, when he was cast in the Arthur Miller play The Price. He played the lead on Broadway and in London.

His film career included roles in The Unforgiven (1960), The Outrage (1964), Lawman (1971), Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971), Viva Knievel! (1977), Empire of the Ants (1977), Love and Bullets (1979), Caddyshack (1980), and the Robert Redford prison film Brubaker (1980). He played Greil in Dragonslayer (1981), Geraldine Page's husband in I'm Dancing as Fast as I Can (1982), and the hard drinking but loving father of character Diana Lawson in Hard to Hold (1984). His final role in a theatrical film was in Breaking In starring Burt Reynolds in 1989.

Personal life

Salmi met actress Peggy Ann Garner while the two were performing in the National Company touring production of Bus Stop in 1955.[7] They were married on May 18, 1956, in New York City.[8] Their only child, Catherine Ann "Cas" Salmi, was born on March 30, 1957; Catherine died in 1995 of heart disease at the age of 38.[9] Salmi and Garner separated in 1961 and divorced on March 13, 1963.

Salmi married Roberta Pollock Taper in 1964. The couple had two daughters, Elizabeth and Jennifer.[6] The family moved from Los Angeles to Spokane, Washington in 1983, where Salmi went into semi-retirement, only occasionally taking acting roles.[10] He later taught acting and appeared in regional theater.[4]

In early February 1990, Albert and Roberta Salmi separated. He moved into their Idaho condominium, while Roberta Salmi remained in the family home. She filed for divorce on February 6, 1990.[11] According to court documents, Roberta Salmi claimed that her husband was an alcoholic who physically abused her when he drank. She also claimed that Salmi threatened her on several occasions and she was fearful that he might kill her. Roberta Salmi later took out a restraining order against her husband. In response to her claims in the court documents, Salmi denied physically abusing Roberta and blamed their split on her emotional issues.[10][11]


On April 23, 1990, Salmi and his estranged wife Roberta were found dead in their Spokane, Washington home by a friend who stopped by to check on her. According to newspaper accounts, Salmi, who was suffering from severe clinical depression, fatally shot his wife in the kitchen of their home on the morning of April 22. Salmi then shot himself later that day in the den.[1][11] While the police reports state that Roberta's death happened on Sunday morning (April 22), the coroner could not determine when Albert's death occurred.

His funeral was held at the Hennessey-Smith Funeral Home on April 26, after which he was cremated and placed in a niche at Greenwood Memorial Terrace cemetery in Spokane.[3][12]



  1. "Albert Salmi, Actor, 62, Is Found Shot to Death in Home With Wife". The New York Times. April 25, 1990. Retrieved March 29, 2008.
  2. Garfield, David (1980). "Appendix: Life Members of The Actors Studio as of January 1980". A Player's Place: The Story of The Actors Studio. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 278. ISBN 0-02-542650-8.
  3. Pettit, Stefanie (February 17, 2011). "Landmarks: Actor's murder-suicide left behind fame, forgiveness".
  4. Walter, Jess; Sowa, Tom (April 25, 1990). "Shooting victim feared for her life". Spokane Chronicle. p. B8.
  5. McLellan, Dennis (June 7, 2007). "Baseball novelist, author of 'Bang the Drum Slowly, among others". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. p. B-3.
  6. Scott, Vernon (October 11, 1974). "Albert Salmi Finnish Hero". Boca Raton News. p. 9.
  7. Parish, Robert James (1976). Hollywood Players: The Forties. Arlington House Publishers. p. 262.
  8. "Peggy Ann Garner To Marry Friday". Kentucky New Era. May 16, 1956. p. 10.
  9. Motion Picture. Macfadden-Bartell. 47: 98. 1957.CS1 maint: untitled periodical (link)
  10. Walter, Jess (May 10, 1990). "Actor wasn't drinking before murder, suicide". The Spokesman-Review. p. B4.
  11. Walter, Jess (May 10, 1990). "Actor wasn't drinking before murder, suicide". The Spokesman-Review. p. B1.
  12. "Albert Salmi". The Spokesman-Review. April 26, 1990. p. D7.


"Spotlights & Shadows: The Albert Salmi Story," by Sandra Grabman. Published by BearManor Media 2004, second edition 2010. ISBN 978-1-59393-425-5.

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