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Eli Wallach's lesser known role

by Greg Belfrage

Family members say celebrated character actor Eli Wallach has died.

Wallach has played dozens of roles, but is probably best remembered from his film work in some classic westerns. Wallach played Tuco in The Good, The Bad and the Ugly and Calvera in The Magnificent Seven.

Others will remember Wallach as the conspiring Don Altobello from Godfather III. One of his most recent film appearances was in Wall Street 2.

However, older geeks are remembering Wallach today for the role that sent icy shivers down their spines when they were kids.

Wallach is one of three actors who gave life to Mr. Freeze on television's Batman . He played the role of Mr. Freeze (aka Dr. Schimmel) in the two-part episode, "Ice Spy/The Duo Defy".

The roles of villains on Batman were highly coveted by character actors and competition to get on the program was fierce.

Wallach, like many other actors of the time, says his children pushed him to land a role on the show. He donned Mr. Freeze's ice collar after producers, cast and crew found it too difficult to work with previous actor Otto Preminger. George Sanders originally created the role.

In his autobiography, Wallach said the role of Mr. Freeze generated more fan mail than any of his other roles. "I get more mail for him than anything I've ever done.

Eli Wallach was 98.

Greg Belfrage is a lifelong Star Trek fan, Batman toy collector, sci-fi movie maniac and hopeless geek. He can be reached at greg.belfrage@mwcradio.com .

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Teaser photo credit: Youtube

Main photo credit: Batman 1966 TV Show Facebook page