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Biff Elliot (born Leon Shalek; July 26, 1923 – August 15, 2012) was an American actor. He is perhaps best known for his role as popular detective Mike Hammer in the 1953 version of I, the Jury and for his guest appearance as Schmitter in the Star Trek episode "The Devil in the Dark".

Personal life

Quick facts for kids
Biff Elliot
Elliot as Mike Hammer in I, the Jury
Leon Shalek

(1923-07-26)July 26, 1923
Died August 15, 2012(2012-08-15) (aged 89)
Alma mater University of Maine
Occupation Actor
Years active 1948–2001
Spouse(s) Betty Dole
(m.1948-1974; her death)
Connie Elliot
(m.1977-2012; his death)

Biff Elliot was born Leon Shalek in Lynn, Massachusetts, the son of Susan (née Bernstein) and Israel Shalek. He was the youngest of three brothers and his ancestors were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His father opened a burlap bag-manufacturing business in Presque Isle, Maine. His eldest brother, Irwin Elliot Shalek (Win Elliot) was a popular radio and television host and sports commentator. His other brother Stanley was president of his father's business.

Elliot took the nickname of Biff when he became involved with amateur Golden Glove boxing. After his mother learned of his fighting and canceled any further fights, Elliot played other sports, including track and football.

While in college at the University of Maine, Elliot enlisted in the United States Army, serving in North Africa and Italy in the 34th Infantry Division during World War II. After the war, Elliot served six months of occupation duty and was shipped home, where he resumed his education at the University of Maine, graduating in 1948 with a degree in journalism.

Elliot met his first wife Elizabeth (Betty) Dole at college, and she left after her sophomore year to marry him. They moved to New York City, where Betty worked as a high fashion model.

Elliot worked steadily in films and television until his wife's death in 1974 at the age of 45. He married again in 1977 to Connie Bandy, and they remained married for 35 years until his death in 2012.

He was the brother of Win Elliot, a longtime CBS Radio Network sportscaster and 1950s television game-show host.


Elliot, who had acted during his college years, abandoned writing to pursue television roles. He appeared in many important dramatic shows of the time, mostly playing tough, working-class characters. When Elliot was spotted by a Hollywood attorney while performing in a television episode, the attorney recommended him to Victor Saville, the producer who was preparing the first film adaption of Mickey Spillane's I, the Jury. After securing the part following a 15-minute audition, Elliot was brought to Hollywood and prepared for the role by reading Mike Hammer novels, often spending the entire night reading them. I, the Jury became Elliot's first leading film role, and he was the first actor to portray the Mike Hammer character in a film. Although Elliot was signed to a long-term contract as Mike Hammer, other actors were later cast in the role.

In 2004 Elliot recorded a commentary track for I, the Jury.

Over the next few years, Elliot became a prominent fixture in war films of the 1950s and 1960s, appearing in Between Heaven and Hell, The Enemy Below, Pork Chop Hill and PT 109. In 1959, playwright Clifford Odets, who had noticed Elliot in I, the Jury, offered him a role in The Story on Page One, which Odets wrote and directed. In the 1960s, Elliot appeared mostly in television, including appearance on Frank Lovejoy's detective series Meet McGraw and on Perry Mason. In 1961 Elliot played the part of Buddy Blue, a trumpeter on the run from a gangster, in the series 77 Sunset Strip. In 1966, he portrayed a government agent in an episode of the comedy series The Dick Van Dyke Show. In 1967, he appeared in the Star Trek episode "The Devil in the Dark". He guest-starred in an episode of Gibbsville in 1976. In 1977, he had a memorable supporting role in Telly Savalas's Beyond Reason with Diana Muldaur. In 1974, Elliot costarred in two episodes of the Planet of the Apes series, playing an orangutan in one of them. Elliot make his final film appearance in the 1986 film That's Life!. His last appearance on television was in 1986 on the set of the television series of Starman. Elliot retired in 2001.


After Elliot's retirement, he worked in radio sports, covering Los Angeles sports for the CBS Radio Network.

Elliot died at his home in Studio City, California, on August 15, 2012, at the age of 89.

Partial filmography

  • I, the Jury (1953) - Mike Hammer
  • House of Bamboo (1955) - Webber
  • Good Morning, Miss Dove (1955) - Reverend Alex Burnham
  • Between Heaven and Hell (1956) - Tom Thumb - Co. G
  • The True Story of Jesse James (1957) - Jim Younger
  • The Enemy Below (1957) - Quartermaster
  • Torpedo Run (1958) - Lt. Paul Buckeye (uncredited)
  • Pork Chop Hill (1959) - Pvt. Boven
  • The Story on Page One (1959) - Eddie Ritter (uncredited)
  • PT 109 (1963) - Seaman Edgar E. Mauer
  • Combat! (1963) episode: "The Party" as Rafferty
  • Brainstorm (1965) - Detective (uncredited)
  • Blood Bath (1966) - Cafe Manager
  • Destination Inner Space (1966) - Dr. Wilson
  • The Navy vs. the Night Monsters (1966) - Cmdr. Arthur Simpson
  • Combat! (1966) episode: "The Outsider" as Doctor
  • The Girl Who Knew Too Much (1969) - Archie
  • The Day of the Wolves (1971) - The Inspector
  • The Hard Ride (1971) - Mike
  • Kotch (1971) - Motel Manager
  • Mission Impossible (1972) episode: "Casino" as Mel Simpson
  • Cool Breeze (1972) - Lt. Carl Mager
  • Save the Tiger (1973) - Tiger Petitioner
  • This Is a Hijack (1973) - Neal Hanaford
  • The Front Page (1974) - Police Dispatcher
  • Planet of the Apes (TV series) (1974) episode: The Cure - Orangutan
  • The Wild McCullochs (1975) - Ralph
  • The Dark (1979) - Detective Jack Bresler
  • Beyond Reason (1985) - Police Sergeant
  • That's Life! (1986) - Belmont

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Biff Elliot para niños

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