Biff Elliot

Biff Elliot

  • Highest Rated: 86% The True Story of Jesse James (1957)
  • Lowest Rated: 46% That's Life! (1986)
  • Birthday: Jul 26, 1923
  • Birthplace: Not Available
  • Relatively few people remember the name Biff Elliot today, but as an actor, he carved a special place for himself in popular culture during the '50s -- in a role that he spent years living down. Born Leon Shalek in Lynn, MA, a working-class town, he aspired to an acting career and came to New York in pursuit of that goal. He got some stage and television work, mostly playing tough, working-class characters, and then a seemingly big break in Hollywood playing the lead role in the crime thriller I, The Jury (1953), directed by Harry Essex. In the history of popular culture, Ralph Meeker might have earned a place playing Mike Hammer in the best movie ever made from one of Mickey Spillane's books; Spillane himself may have played the best Mike Hammer on the big-screen (and Brian Keith the best Mike Hammer on the small-screen); but Biff Elliot had the honor of being the first actor to portray Mike Hammer anywhere in that 1953 movie (made in 3-D) based on the first of the Hammer books. It should have been a breakthrough role, but the movie ended up being an albatross around his neck. Over the next few years, there were other offers for more roles in which, in the manner of Spillane's hero, he was mostly pummeling other characters. Elliot did get some film work in movies such as Between Heaven and Hell, Good Morning, Miss Dove, and The Enemy Below (as the ship's quartermaster) at Fox, and Pork Chop Hill for Lewis Milestone at United Artists, but mostly he worked in television. In 1959, Elliot got a seemingly good break when playwright Clifford Odets happened to see I, The Jury and offered him a role in The Story on Page One, which Odets wrote and directed. Alas, the latter movie fizzled -- mostly thanks to Odets's convoluted approach to directing -- and did nothing to help the career of anyone in it. Elliot was mostly seen on television over the next decade or so in roles of varying sizes -- in the Star Trek episode "The Devil in the Dark" as Schmitter, the mining colony crewman joking about the anticipated arrival of the Starship Enterprise who is dissolved by the title creature in the pre-credit sequence. During the '70s and '80s, he was once again seen regularly in movies, including the Jack Lemmon vehicles Save the Tiger (1973), The Front Page (1975) and That's Life (1986). Elliot died of natural causes at age 89 in 2012.

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

Movies

Rating

Title

Credit

Box
Office

Year

46% That's Life! Belmont 1986
No Score Yet The Dark Detective Jack Bresler 1979
No Score Yet Beyond Reason Actor 1978
70% The Front Page Police Dispatcher 1974
83% Save the Tiger Tiger Man 1973
No Score Yet Steambath Flanders 1973
75% Kotch Motel Manager 1971
No Score Yet The Hard Ride Mike 1971
No Score Yet Destination Inner Space Dr. Wilson 1966
No Score Yet Blood Bath Cafe Manager 1966
64% PT 109 Edgar E. Mauer 1963
No Score Yet The Story on Page One Eddie Ritter 1959
80% Pork Chop Hill Bowen 1959
80% The Enemy Below Quartermaster 1957
86% The True Story of Jesse James Jim Younger 1957
No Score Yet Between Heaven and Hell Tom Thumb 1956
No Score Yet Good Morning, Miss Dove Alex Burnham 1955
83% House of Bamboo Webber 1955
No Score Yet I, the Jury Mike Hammer 1953

TV

Rating

Title

Credit

Year

No Score Yet Bonanza
1959-1973
Harley Lewis
  • 1972
No Score Yet Mission: Impossible
1966-1973
Kid Wilson Mel Simpson Guard
  • 1972
  • 1968
  • 1967
80% Star Trek
1966-1969
  • 1967
No Score Yet The Dick Van Dyke Show
1961-1966
Phillips
  • 1966
No Score Yet Alfred Hitchcock Presents
1955-1962
Kovacs Phil Ames Hudson Bates Fred Chester
  • 1961
  • 1960
No Score Yet Perry Mason
1957-1966
McLain
  • 1959

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