Fast Facts

  • Wanted to be a painter as a child and worked as an artist during the Depression (he continued painting throughout his life).
  • Worked as a longshoreman, a factory worker and a miner before making it in show business. 
  • Worked as a museum tour guide, and his improvisations as a guide led to work as a nightclub comedian, which in turn led to early appearances on Broadway.
  • Was given the nickname Zero by a nightclub press agent, because he was a man who "started from nothing."
  • Briefly served in the U.S. Army in 1943. 
  • Was blacklisted in Hollywood after he testified before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1951.
  • Was hit by a bus in 1960 and severely injured his left leg. 
  • Was the first performer to win Tonys in both the musical and dramatic acting categories.
  • Was known for frequently ad-libbing on stage.


  • 1969, Golden Globe — Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy: Nominee
  • 1965, Tony — Actor (Musical): Winner
  • 1961, Tony — Actor (Dramatic): Winner
  • 1963, Tony — Actor (Musical): Winner
  • 1974, Tony — Actor (Dramatic): Nominee
  • 1978, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Supporting Actor: Nominee


  • Clara Sverd — Ex-wife
  • Tobias Mostel — Son
  • Josh Mostel — Son
  • Kate Mostel — Wife (deceased)


  • City University of New York, City College, New York, NY (1935); attended New York University, New York, NY


  • Birth Name: Samuel Joel Mostel
  • Birth Place: New York, NY
  • Died: September 8, 1977
  • Profession: Actor, Painter

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