ZERO MOSTEL BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY:
Zero Mostel was born on February 28th, 1915 in Brooklyn, New York with the birth name Samuel Joel Mostel to a family of eight children. Zero was raised in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He became interested in art and painting when attending the Education Alliance which was a place that served Jewish immigrants and their children.
He studied at the City College of New York and then went on to study for his masters in art at New York University after he graduated from CCNY in 1935. He then found work teaching art at the Works Progress Administration's Federal Art Project in 1937. Mostel also supported himself by doing lectures and gallery's at various museums.
In 1941, Mostel then decided to audition as a comedian at Cafe Society, a downtown nightclub. At first he did not get hired, but after Pearl Harbor, he was taken on and given the stage name Zero.
He became quite popular and also got hired to appear on stage in the play, "Cafe Crown" (1942) which he remained with for a total of one hundred and forty one appearances. Zero then followed with his Broadway debut in, "Keep em Laughing" (1942) which ran for seventy seven performances.
His career progressed to working on radio and touring the nightclub circus. For a brief time, he joined the army, but was discharged due to a physical disability. In 1948, Mostel made his television debut in a series called, "Of the Record" followed by an appearance on, "Ford Theatre Hour" (1948).
During the 1950's, he was blacklisted from the entertainment industry due to being accused of being a communist. He supported himself by selling his paintings and working various gigs to make ends meat.
He was still able to get stage work and he appeared in, "Ulysses in Nighttown" (1958) which was an Off-Broadway production. Luckily, by 1959, he was again allowed to do television work. Sadly, in 1960, he was injured when he was hit by a bus and was hospitalized for five months unable to work.
When he returned to work he was offered a Broadway role in, "Rhinoceros" which earned him a Tony Award. When he was cast in the play, "Forum" it ended up being a major hit running for a total of nine hundred and sixty four performances and won six Tony Awards. In 1964 he was cast in, "Fiddler on the Roof" which ran for a total of eight years and three thousand two hundred and forty two performances. In 1965, this play was awarded nine Tony Awards and in 1972, it was awarded it's 10th Tony Award for being the longest running musical ever on Broadway.
The rest of Mostel's career focused on mostly television and film work. Some of his film roles were in, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum" (1966) and "The Front" (1976). He appeared on television in, "The Electric Company" which aired from 1972 through 1977. He came to realize that his success as an actor was better put to use as a stage actor and he continued to take on roles on Broadway productions.
On September 8th, 1977, Zero Mostel died at the age of sixty two from an aortic aneurysm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Throughout his lifetime he married twice, first to Clara Sverd on July 2nd, 1939 through June 1st, 1944. His second marriage to Kathryn Harkin took place on July 2nd, 1944 and they remained together until he passed away. They had two children together, Josh and Tobias.
At his request no funeral or memorial service ever took place. It is known that his ashes were cremated, but unknown where they were scattered.
1978 Watership Down
1972-1977 The Electric Company
1976 The Little Drummer Boy Book II
1976 The Front
1975 The CBS Festival of Lively Arts for Young People
1975 Journey Into Fear
1975 Fore Play
1974 Once Upon a Scoundrel
1973 Saga of Sonora
1973 Old Faithful
1972 The Hot Rock
1970 The Angel Levine
1969 The Great Bank Robbery
1968 Great Catherine
1968 The Producers
1967 Children of the Exodus
1967 Ride of the Valkyrie
1966 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
1959-1961 Play of the Week
1959 The World of Sholom Aleichem
1959 Zero Mostel
1951 The Model and the Marriage Broker
1951 The Guy Who Came Back
1951 Mr. Belvedere Rings the Bell
1951 The Enforcer
1950 Panic in the Streets
1949 The Ford Theatre Hour
1943 Du Barry Was a Lady