Sam Jaffe (actor)

Sam Jaffe (Actor)

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Sam Jaffe (actor)

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Sam Jaffe (March 10, 1891 – March 24, 1984) was an American actor, teacher, musician and engineer. In 1951, he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in The Asphalt Jungle (1950) and appeared in other classic films such as Ben-Hur (1959) and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). He may be best remembered for playing the title role in Gunga Din (1939), and the High Lama in Lost Horizon (1937).


He was born as Shalom Jaffe to Heida (Ada) and Barnett Jaffe, a Russian-Jewish family in New York City, New York. His mother, Ada Jaffe, was a Yiddish actress in Odessa, Ukraine prior to moving to the United States; his father was a jeweler. He was the youngest of four children, and his siblings were Abraham, Sophie and Annie. As a child, he appeared in Yiddish theater productions with his mother, who after moving to the United States became a prominent actress and vaudeville star. He studied engineering at City College of New York and attended Columbia University. He also worked for several years as a math teacher before turning to acting as a career.

As a young man he lived in New York City's Greenwich Village in the same apartment building as a young John Huston. The two became good friends and remained friends for life. Sam was later to star in two of Huston's films: The Asphalt Jungle and The Barbarian & the Geisha. Jaffe's closest friends included Zero Mostel, Edward G. Robinson, Ray Bradbury and Igor Stravinsky. He began...
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