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Robert Ellenstein

Personal information
Birth dateJune 18, 1923
Place of birthNewark, New Jersey,
United States
Date of deathOctober 28, 2010 (aged 87)
Death placeLos Angeles, California,
United States

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Robert Ellenstein (June 18, 1923 - October 28, 2010) was an American film, television and theatre actor.

The son of Meyer Ellenstein, a Newark dentist, Robert Ellenstein grew up in that New Jersey city and saw his father go on to become its two-term mayor. He served in the Air Corps during World War II: earning a Purple Heart during his service. He attended NYU and graduated with honors from the University of Iowa. He began acting, directing and teaching in Cleveland, Ohio. A veteran of the "Golden Age" of live TV (he played Quasimodo in a live Robert Montgomery Presents (1950) version of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame"), for the same show played the lead in "A Case of Identity", later turned into the film "The Wrong Man", he was the first actor to play Albert Einstein on TV. Ellenstein made his first film in 1954 (MGM's Rogue Cop), he was featured in Alfred Hitchcock's "North by Northwest". In 1961, he played the mobster Legs Diamond in an episode of NBC's 1920s crime drama The Lawless Years with James Gregory.

He also directed television with an episode of the 1960s sitcom, Love on a Rooftop with Judy Carne and many live TV episodes. Ellenstein had over 200 television appearances. He performed hundreds of stage roles as an actor. He directed dozens theatre productions in New York, Los Angeles and in regional theater. He was artistic director of The Company of Angels and Founding Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Repertory Company. He received a lifetime achievement in theatre award from the LA Weekly in 1988. He is best known for having played the villain in the pilot episode of Moonlighting (1985), and then the Federation President in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986). Ellenstein taught theatre professionally and academically for over 50 years, founding the Academy of Stage and Cinema Arts in Los Angeles.

He died on October 28, 2010. He is survived by his wife of 58 years, Lois, daughter Jan and his two sons, David and Peter, both of whom are artistic directors of theatres.

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