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FBI Dir. Mueller Honors Actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr., 90, Who Portrayed Ideal Agent in Show “The FBI”

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com
More than three decades ago,  actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr. graced America’s tv sets with his collective cool, his slick dark hair and finely tailored suits.  In living rooms everywhere,  he was known as the beloved fictional agent Insp. Louis Erskine on a show simply named “The FBI”.

Dir. Mueller Honors Efrem Zimbalist Jr./fbi photo
Dir. Mueller Honors Efrem Zimbalist Jr./fbi photo

The show, which ran from 1965-74, was a public relations bonanza for an agency that has always taken public relations seriously .  It was also a great recruiting tool for some future FBI agents. Zimbalist was always fighting evil, always portraying the ideal FBI agent.

On Monday morning, in a ceremony at the Los Angeles FBI field office, FBI Dir. Robert Mueller III honored Zimbalist with an honorary FBI special agent  badge. He still looked fit at age 90, but the slick dark hair associated with the fictional character Insp. Erskine had gone the way of the black and white tv, only to be replaced with a shock of white hair.

“Inspector Erskine became a classic TV character, and a household name,” Mueller said during the presentation. ” For many Americans, the show was their first glimpse into the work of the FBI, and their first encounter with an FBI special agent.

“We could not have asked for a better character, or a better man to play his role,” Mueller  said. ” Over the years, many actors have played FBI agents. But thanks to Efrem’s fine work, Inspector Erskine will always remain the icon of an FBI special agent.”

A press release from FBI headquarters said that “Mr. Zimbalist has been a steadfast supporter of the FBI for nearly four decades.

“After the show ended, Mr. Zimbalist continued his relationship with the FBI, participating in charity events that helped raise money for families of agents killed in the line of duty, lending his well-known voice to help narrate FBI recruiting videos, and appearing at various FBI functions around the country,” the press release said.


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