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Actor Biff Elliot, the first Mike Hammer, dies

Starred in 1953 Spillane adaptation 'I, the Jury'

Biff Elliot, who starred as detective Mike Hammer in the 1953 feature adaptation of Mickey Spillane’s “I, the Jury,” died in Studio City, Calif., of natural causes on Aug. 15. He was 89.

The part of Mike Hammer in Elliot’s feature debut did not lead to further lead roles, however.

He appeared in 25 films, performing supporting roles in high-profile titles such as Sam Fuller’s Robert Ryan starrer “House of Bamboo”; Nicholas Ray’s “The True Story of Jesse James”; John F. Kennedy WWII story “PT 109”; Gregory Peck starrer “Pork Chop Hill”; the Jack Lemmon-directed “Kotch,” starring Walter Matthau; “Save the Tiger,” with Lemmon; Billy Wilder’s “The Front Page” remake; and Blake Edwards’ “That’s Life,” again with Lemmon.

Elliot also had more than 40 smallscreen credits, including on the original “Star Trek” episode “Devil in the Dark,” about a rock-eating monster killing miners, including Elliot’s character.

He made his TV debut in 1951 in an episode of “Lights Out” and early on appeared on segments of episodic anthology shows such as “Kraft Theatre,” “The Philco-Goodyear Television Playhouse” and “Lux Video Theatre.” Later he guested on “Perry Mason,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Bonanza” and “Falcon Crest.”

Leon Shalek was born in Lynn, Mass. He boxed, played baseball and served in the Army during WWII. He graduated from the U. of Maine and initially sought to become a writer in New York City.

In addition to his acting work, Elliot was a radio sportscaster, covering Los Angeles sports for CBS Radio.

He is survived by his second wife, Connie, and 13 nieces and nephews.

Donations may be made to Actors and Others for Animals, the Actors Fund or the Motion Picture & Television Fund.

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