The oldest living male actor to have appeared in a “Star Trek” series or movie has died. Nehemiah Persoff, who played Palor Toff in the third-season “Star Trek: The Next Generation” episode “The Most Toys,” died on April 5 at the age of 102, according to Deadline.
Persoff assumed the title of oldest living male “Star Trek” actor after the death of Norman Lloyd in 2021 at the age of 106. Other actors and actresses from the franchise who eclipsed the century mark include Ellen Albertini Dow, Viola Stimpson, Olaf Pooley, Shep Houghton, Dick Cherney, Marsha Hunt and Ivy Bethune. Hunt, at 104, is now both the oldest living “Trek” actor and the oldest living female “Trek” performer, according to Memory Alpha.
Persoff Acted on Stage, in Films & on TV for More Than 50 Years
Persoff was born in Jerusalem and came to America in 1929, according to Deadline. His professional acting career began in 1948, according to IMDb, and he went uncredited in one of his earliest films — playing a cab driver during the “I coulda been a contender” scene in 1954’s “On the Waterfront” — before launching into a career that included more than 200 credits over 55 years.
Persoff enjoyed a prolific career on stage, in films and on television, working into his mid-80s when health concerns caused him to retire. Among his many, many projects were “I, Spy” “Some Like It Hot,” “The Twilight Zone,” “The Untouchables,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Gunsmoke,” “Voyage of the Damned,” “Logan’s Run,” “Battlestar Galactica,” “Fantasy Island,” “Sadat,” “The Last Temptation of Christ,” “Twins,” several of the animated “An American Tail” features (as the voice of Papa Mousekewitz) and his final credit, “Angels in America.”
Persoff is perhaps best known for playing the father of director and star Barbra Streisand’s character in the movie musical “Yentl.”
In his one and only “Star Trek” appearance, Persoff played a humanoid alien named Palor Toff. A merchant and collector, Persoff sported not just elaborate facial makeup and a colorful costume (a green robe), but also a fanciful gold band that started on his forehead, wrapped around his head, and connected to the skin just above his lip.
According to Memory Alpha: “In 2366, Kivas Fajo paid a visit to Toff’s home on Lya IV and brought him aboard to see the new centerpiece of his collection, Lieutenant Commander Data, a Soong-type android. However, while Toff was there, Data acted like an inanimate object, causing Toff to think Fajo had been tricked. He found the whole thing amusing, and retreated to ‘play’ with Varria, whom he regarded as more fun than ‘Fajo’s new toy.’”
Persoff Was a Painter & Author
After his retirement from acting, Persoff spent much of his time painting. He wrote on his website that he enjoyed painting as a young man but decided in 1936 to go into acting instead after “seeing these fine artists struggle for a livelihood.” In 2021, he published a memoir titled “The Many Faces of Nehemiah.”
Not long after he’d turned 102, Persoff sat for a Zoom interview with GrowingBolder. Asked about losing his wife and if he thought about dying, Persoff replied, “Who knows? It’s the end. When we’re born, we head for dying. We die all the way from the day we’re born. … I will die, and that’s okay. That’s fine. I’ve had my share. I’m happy. I’m satisfied and could go today. Fine. But I don’t want to.”
According to Deadline, Persoff was preceded in death by his wife of almost 70 years, Thia, who died in 2021 of cancer. He is survived by his children Daniel, Jeff, Perry and Dahlia, as well as several grandchildren and nieces and nephews, the outlet reported.