Oscar Actors: Tamiroff, Akim (Nominee)–Background, Career, Awards

Research in Progress: Oct 1, 2021
Akim Tamiroff Career Summary:

Occupational Inheritance: No

Social Class:

Race/Ethnicity/Religion: Russia; in Us in late 1920s



Training: MAT (Moscow Art Theater)

Teacher/Inspirational Figure:

Radio Debut:

TV Debut:

Stage Debut:

Broadway Debut:

Film Debut: Okay America, 1932; aged 33

Breakthrough Role: The Lives of a Bengal Lancer. 1935; aged 36

Oscar Role: The General Died at Dawn; 1936; aged 37; For Whom the Bell Tolls, 1943; aged 44

Gap bet First Film and First Nom: 4 years

Gap bet Nom 1 and Nom 2: 7 years

Other Noms: 2

Other Awards:

Frequent Collaborator:

Screen Image: character actor

Last Film:

Career Output: over 80 films

Film Career Span: 37 years

Marriage: actress


Death: 1972; aged 72

Akim Mikhailovich Tamiroff[a] (born Hovakim Tamiryants) October 29, 1899 – September 17, 1972) was an American actor.

He was nominated twice for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performances in The General Died at Dawn (1936) and For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943); the latter won him the first Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Tamiroff appeared in at least 80 American pictures in a career spanning 37 years.

Tamiroff was born in either Tiflis or Baku, Russian Empire, to an Armenian family.

He trained at the Moscow Art Theatre drama school for 9 years.

He arrived in the U.S. for the first time, in January 1923 on tour with a troupe of actors. He returned in November and stayed until 1924. His final trip with his theatre group was in October 1927 when he decided to stay permanently.

Tamiroff managed to develop a career in Hollywood despite  thick accent.

Tamiroff’s film debut came in 1932 in an uncredited role in Okay, America!.

He performed in several more uncredited roles until 1935, when he co-starred in The Lives of a Bengal Lancer.

He appeared in the lavish epic China Seas in 1935 with Clark Gable, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Rosalind Russell and Robert Benchley.

In 1936, he was cast in the titular role in The General Died at Dawn.

He appeared in the 1937 musical High, Wide, and Handsome with Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott, and the 1938 proto-noir Dangerous to Know opposite Anna May Wong (one of his best roles.)

He appeared in The Buccaneer (1938) with Fredric March, The Great McGinty (1940), The Corsican Brothers (1941), Tortilla Flat (1942) with Spencer Tracy, Hedy Lamarr and John Garfield, Five Graves to Cairo (1943) with Erich von Stroheim as Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, Frank Borzage’s His Butler’s Sister (1943), For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) with Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman, for which he received another Oscar nomination, and Preston Sturges’ The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek (1944).

Tamiroff appeared in Ocean’s 11 (1960) with Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin’s Rat Pack, Topkapi (1964) with Peter Ustinov and Melina Mercouri, Alphaville (1965).

He had long collaboration with Orson Welles including Touch of Evil (1958) with Charlton Heston, Mr Arkadin (1955), The Trial (1962) and Welles’ unfinished version of Don Quixote, in which he played Sancho Panza.

Tamiroff’s malapropistic performance as the boss in The Great McGinty is thought to have been the inspiration for the cartoon character Boris Badenov, the male half of the villainous husband-and-wife team Boris and Natasha on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

He was spoofed in a 1969 episode of the TV show H.R. Pufnstuf entitled “The Stand-in” in which a frog named “Akim Toadanoff” directs a movie on Living Island.

Tamiroff’s accepted birth year was 1899, though it’s not definite; some sources give 1896, or 1898.

He married fellow actress Tamara Shayne, with whom he performed nightclub acts, in February 1933 in Los Angeles. Yet, according to the above-mentioned 1930 census, the couple was living in Chicago, Illinois as married under the (misspelled) name Tameriroff.

Tamiroff died on September 17, 1972, from cancer.

In 1944, Tamiroff was the first Golden Globe Award winner for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture for his work in For Whom the Bell Tolls.

He was twice nominated for Academy Awards, both times for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. The first was for The General Died at Dawn, and the second for For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Tamiroff received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for motion pictures at 1634 Vine Street.