Persoff appeared in an excellent episode of “The Twilight Zone” titled “Judgment Night”, which aired on December 4, 1959. In it, Persoff plays a man who suddenly finds himself transported, without memories, to the deck of a ship at sea. . It’s also 1942, and even though his memory has been erased, he knows the ship is about to be attacked by a German submarine. Eventually, he realizes that he knows about the submarine because he is actually the German captain of said boat. In true “Twilight Zone” fashion, Persoff’s twist (there’s more to the story) and intensity make it a classic episode of television.
Persoff’s last credited acting role was as an elderly rabbi in the 2003 TV miniseries of Tony Kushner’s penetrating drama, “Angels in America.”
In an interview with Cinema Retro Magazine, Persoff recalled his experiences on the set of “Some Like it Hot”:
“When we were shooting my scene, the cast of ‘Porgy and Bess’ (who was turning beside) came to watch: Sammy Davis, Sidney Poitier and others. So Wilder was “on”. He felt the need to entertain, so he was telling joke after joke and soon the whole set was laughing. It was a good atmosphere for my scene. Wilder pretty much left me alone, sometimes mimicking my reading or asking me to put a different emphasis on a sentence, but overall he let me do my thing.
He also recounted his experience working on “The Untouchables”:
“Jake Guzik was the first character I played on”The Incorruptibles.’ I loved doing this show mainly because Robert Stack was so good in his role. For me it was invaluable. Bob Stack (as Federal Prohibition Agent Elliot Ness) was so stuck up nose up, he was so correct and superior, so aristocratic, that without any effort on my part, it brought out the rebel in me (wherever he slept). It touched a vein of anger in my anger that, in my mind, is such an important part of what makes a gangster (one who rebels against the rules and wants things his way). I did five or six episodes and I certainly attribute a lot of my success to Bob.”
And of his time on “The Twilight Zone,” he had this to say:
“You know, when you’re doing TV, you have so little time to think, you jump in and you do it.”
May his memory be a blessing.