Michael Ansara in the 1970s
|Date of birth:||15 April 1922|
|Died:||31 July 2013(aged 91)|
|Died in:||Calabasas, California, U.S.|
|Appeared on/in:||I Dream of Jeannie|
|Number of |
|2 in Seasons 2 and 3|
|King Kamehameha in "The Battle of Waikiki" |
Blue Djinn in "Happy Anniversary"
Michael George Ansara made two appearances on I Dream of Jeannie, first as the Blue Djinn, the evil genie who imprisoned Jeannie in her bottle 2,000 years earlier, which Tony found washed ashore on Cocoa Beach while in the midst of a training mission in the Season 2 opening episode "Happy Anniversary", then as the late Hawaiian Islands monarch King Kamehameha in the Season 3 episode titled "The Battle of Waikiki".
Life and career
Michael also has the distinction of not only having appeared in another popular 1960s NBC-TV series which gained a cult following, that would become an American icon in syndication, Star Trek, but he also has the distinction for appearing in the same character in three Star Trek series; Michael played Klingon Commander Kang in three Star Trek episodes, each from a different series, namely the Star Trek episode "Day of the Dove", Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Blood Oath", and the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Flashback". He later appeared in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "The Muse" as a different character.
Due to his complexion, Ansara was often cast in the role of a Native American. This was the case for his starring role as Chief Cochise on the ABC TV western series Broken Arrow from 1956 through 1958, for which he is probably best remembered. He then starred as Native American US Marshal Sam Buckhart on NBC's short-lived Western television series Law of the Plainsman.
He also played a Native American character in the 1978 mini-series Centennial.
Ansara won a Bronze Wrangler for his performance in the 1963 Rawhide episode "Incident of Iron Bull". He appeared in two other episodes of Rawhide, including "Incident at Rio Doloroso", in which he and fellow TOS guest star Madlyn Rhue portrayed husband-and-wife.
Ansara had a role in the pilot for the 1975 TV series Barbary Coast, starring William Shatner. He previously co-starred with Shatner in his pre-Trek days in a 1964 episode of Burke's Law. Ansara also worked with Leonard Nimoy twice before they appeared together on Star Trek, first in a 1957 episode of Broken Arrow and again in a 1965 episode of The Virginian.
Ansara played the villain Killer Kane in four episodes of the 1979-1981 sci-fi TV series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. In the 1980s, he guest-starred on such television series as Fantasy Island , CHiPs, Simon & Simon, Hardcastle and McCormick, and Murder, She Wrote.
In 1994, Ansara appeared as a technomage on the science fiction television series Babylon 5.
Voice over work
Ansara has become recognizable as the voice of the DC Comics character Mr. Freeze on various animated Batman series. He has voiced the character several times between 1992 and 2009, beginning with Batman: The Animated Series. He later voiced the role in the animated series The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond.
In addition, Ansara voiced Mr. Freeze in the 1998 direct-to-video release SubZero, set between the events of Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures. The aforementioned Loren Lester and Robert Costanzo also lent their voices to this movie, again playing their respective characters of Robin and Detective Bullock. More recently, Ansara voiced Freeze in the video games Batman: Vengeance.
Ansara's many feature film credits include Julius Caesar (1953), The Comancheros (1961, starring John Wayne), and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961). Ansara appeared in Abbott and Costello Meet the Mummy (1954), as Charlie. As the Hittite commander in The Egyptian (1954), he had only two lines, but presented a Klingon-like appearance, declaring "No Hittite warrior cries out in pain!"
In Irwin Allen's 1961 science fiction classic Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Ansara portrayed scientist Miguel Alvarez. That same year, he had a supporting role in the western adventure The Comancheros, along with Nehemiah Persoff. Ansara later played a prince in the Gene Nelson-directed 1965 Elvis Presley movie Harum Scarum and a Comanche chief in the 1966 western Texas Across the River.
In 1974, Ansara played The Captain in the cult horror film It's Alive! In 1976, Ansara starred in the highly-controversial film Mohammad, Messenger of God (known in the US as The Messenger). This film chronicled the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam. Ansara then starred in the 1978 horror film The Manitou, for which he received a Saturn Award nomination from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films as Best Supporting Actor.
Michael's subsequent films include Bayou Romance (1982) and Access Code (1984), both with Michael Durrell. He later worked with Walter Gotell and Sally Kellerman in the 1986 drama KGB: The Secret War and with Jill Ireland in the 1987 action thriller Assassination. He then appeared in the 1990 western Border Shootout. Ansara's most recent feature film was the 1999 independent drama The Long Road Home.
Ansara was born in a small village in Syria in 1922 and emigrated with his family to the United States when he was two years old. They resided in Lowell, Massachusetts, until they moved to California ten years later. Ansara enrolled in the Los Angeles City College intending to become a doctor but ultimately decided to become an actor.
He was married to I Dream of Jeannie actress Barbara Eden from 1958 through 1974. He also worked with her on several projects, including directing and appearing on several episodes of Jeannie. He and Eden had one child, a son named Matthew, who died of a drug overdose in 2001. Ansara married actress Beverly Kushida in 1977.
Michael retired from acting in 2001. He died at his home in Calabasas, California, on 31 July 2013. He was 91.