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Mike Mazurki

Mike Mazurki
Personal information
Birth nameMikhail Mazurkevych
Birth dateDecember 25, 1907
Place of birthTarnopol, Galicia,
Date of deathDecember 09, 1990(age 82)
Death placeGlendale, California,
United States
SpouseJeanette Briggs (1943-50) (divorced) 2 children
Sylvia Weinblatt (1968-90) (his death)

     Home | American actors | Mike Mazurki

Mike Mazurki (December 25, 1907 December 9, 1990) was an Austrian-born American actor and professional wrestler who appeared in over 100 movies. His towering 6' 5" presence and intimidating face usually got him roles playing tough guys, thugs, strong men, and gangsters.

Mazurki was born as Mikhail Mazurkevych in Tarnopol, Galicia, Austria-Hungary (now Ternopil, Ukraine). He migrated with his family to the United States at the age of six, living in Cohoes, New York, a city just outside of Albany, in old mill housing on Olmstead Street with his mother. He attended La Salle Institute in Troy, New York, for high school. He later graduated from Manhattan College with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He became a professional athlete in three sports, primarily wrestling but also football and basketball.

He was discovered by Josef von Sternberg and given a bit part in his film The Shanghai Gesture (1941). This led to a long film and television career. Possibly his most memorable role was that of slow-witted thug Moose Malloy in the 1944 film noir Murder, My Sweet, opposite Dick Powell. He also played a wrestler called "The Strangler" in Night and the City (1950). In fact, he continued to wrestle during his acting career. His slurred speech was reportedly due to a wrestling injury to his Adam's apple.

Mazurki made guest appearances on many well-known television shows, among them My Friend Flicka (as a wrestler facing Gene Evans's character of Rob McLaughlin), Gilligan's Island, The Munsters, I Dream of Jeannie, Bonanza and Gunsmoke, to name just a few. He played a yacht hand in an episode of Perry Mason titled "The Case of the Missing Button," in which he threatened Mason and Paul Drake with a set of brass knuckles. He was also a regular on a short-lived sitcom, The Chicago Teddy Bears.

In 1965, he co-founded and became the first president of the Cauliflower Alley Club, an association of professional wrestlers. A photograph of his cauliflower ear forms the logo of the organization. In 2005, he was posthumously awarded the New York State Award by the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and Museum for founding the club.

He died in 1990, aged 82, and is entombed in Glendale's Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery.

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