Actor-director Robert Ellenstein died Oct. 28 of natural causes in Los Angeles. He was 87.
Ellenstein co-founded L.A. Rep and Theater West legit companies and was the first a.d. for Company of Angels, which honored him Oct. 17 as part of its 50th anni.
Ellenstein had roles in 1957’s “3:10 to Yuma,” 1959’s “North by Northwest,” 1979’s “Love at First Bite” and 1986’s “Star Trek IV: The Journey Home,” where he played the Federation President, among othe feature films.
He served in the Army Air Corps during World War II and was decorated with the Purple Heart. After his service, he studied at NYU and U. of Iowa before acting at the Cleveland Play House and directing and teaching in Cleveland during the early 1940s and ’50s.
He headed to Hollywood with his family just as the Golden Age of Television was starting and played Quasimodo in a live airing of “Robert Montgomery Presents” in 1954. He would appear for the next four years on the show as well as in others such as “The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse.”
In a career that spanned almost 45 years, Ellenstein had recurring arcs on such series as “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Mission: Impossible,” “The Wild Wild West,” “Perry Mason” and “Ironside.” He memorably played the villain in the pilot ep of “Moonlighting.” His last screen outing was “ER” in 1998.
Legit highlights included directing a barebones “Hamlet” at Actors Center Theater Wing using only six actors, including son David in the titular role, in 1988. And switching roles he was directed by son Peter in 1992’s “Rocket to the Moon” at the Company of Characters Theater as well as King Lear at the Los Angeles Rep in 1999.
Ellenstein also taught legit and founded L.A.’s Academy of Stage and Cinema Arts.
Survivors include his wife of 58 years, Lois; sons David, a.d. at North Coast Rep in Solana Beach, Calif., and Peter, a.d. at William Inge Center for the Arts in Independance, Kans.; a daughter; and four grandchildren.