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"How very perceptive of you."

- as Major Vicek from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (The Terbuf Affair 1964)

In the 1940s he changed the spelling of his surname to Paulsen from Paulson to reflect the original family spelling.

Albert Paulsen (born Guayaquil, Ecuador on December 13th 1925 in Guayaquil, Ecuador) was an Ecuadorian-American actor who appeared in many American television series beginning in the 1960s, playing characters primarily of European origin. He died in a nursing home in Los Angeles from natural causes in 2004. He was 78.

His accent, appearance and demeanor often typed him as World War II German officers and Iron Curtain spies, but Paulsen was born in Ecuador. "From the age of eight or nine, I began building cardboard theatres, imagining myself an actor in the United States of America," he told an interviewer. He attended German boarding schools and arrived in Los Angeles in 1942 at age 16. He joined the U.S. Army, served briefly before the war ended, and used the G.I. Bill to study acting in New York at Sanford Meisner's Neighborhood Playhouse and Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio.

Paulsen worked on and off Broadway throughout the 1950s and appeared with Geraldine Page and Luther Adler in a 1964 Broadway production of Chekhov's "The Three Sisters" directed by Strasberg (and filmed in 1966 with Paulsen and much of the original stage cast). He created a one-man show portraying novelist Vladimir Nabokov that debuted in Los Angeles in 1982 and toured nationally.

Paulsen came to Hollywood in 1961 and quickly established himself as a player of memorable villains who display a glib surface charm and an ambivalent ruthlessness. He made his film debut with a small part in the 1962 Warren Beatty picture "All Fall Down," then found his milieu later that year in "The Manchurian Candidate," the masterpiece of all 1960s spy movies, combining Cold War paranoia with sly black humor. Paulsen's portrayal of a Soviet agent proud that his New York apparatus actually turns a profit and bemused by the arrival of a jovial Chinese agent played by Khigh Dhiegh was the first of many such roles to follow, although most of them were on TV.

Paulsen had a handful of other notable film roles, including a Cuban officer in "Che," a sadomasochistic killer in "The Laughing Policeman," his typical Communist agent character in the otherwise silly "Mrs. Pollifax, Spy," an angry villager in "Young Frankenstein," and a vicious ganglord in "Gunn," Blake Edwards’ 1967 feature version of Peter Gunn.

On television, Paulsen had a 25-year run portraying gangsters on The Untouchables, 77 Sunset Strip, The FBI and N.Y.P.D.; Wehrmacht officers and Gestapo agents on The Gallant Men, Combat, 12 O'Clock High and The Rat Patrol; and even some lighter roles in episodes of The Farmer's Daughter, The Flying Nun and The Odd Couple. He also appeared in episodes of General Electric True, The Lloyd Bridges Show, Kraft Suspense Theatre, Run for Your Life, The Trials of O'Brien and The Name of the Game.

He won an Emmy for his role as a tough guard at a Russian gulag in the 1963 production "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich," seen on Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre. Ten years later he played Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin in "The Missiles of October," the acclaimed ABC special dramatizing the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Paulsen is best remembered as a canny but fallible villain in numerous spy shows: a Balkan secret policeman in an early episode of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., a Hong Kong nightclub owner and drug dealer in I Spy, and another narcotics kingpin in Amos Burke, Secret Agent. He returned to Chrysler Theatre in "Memorandum for a Spy," a two-parter released as an overseas feature under that title. And he was the villain in no less than four episodes of Mission: Impossible. Ironically, those all came after his first appearance on that series, not as the bad guy but as an alcoholic American agent with a photographic memory who joins the Impossible Missions Force in a plot to topple an Eastern European dictator. Paulsen considered it "the best part I ever had on the show," as he told Patrick White in The Complete Mission: Impossible Dossier. "A drunk, but not a villain."

Paulsen's last feature role was in 1981's "Eyewitness," where he reunited with Steven Hill, Mission's original star and a friend and classmate from their Actors Studio days. The two also appeared together in a 1965 Kraft Suspense Theatre segment.

Paulsen was back on U.N.C.L.E. in its final episode, as one of the plotters of a misguided effort to force peace on the world. He also appeared in the short-lived World War II spy adventure Jericho, the high-tech international intrigue series Search and in several episodes of the long-running cops-and-spies favorite Hawaii Five-0. He was also the chief villain in Peter Graves' 1966 "Call to Danger" pilot that was seen several times in CBS summer-replacement series.

In the 1970s, Paulsen appeared in episodes of The Rockford Files, Columbo, Kojak, Medical Center, Kolchak: The Night Stalker, Police Story, Switch, Wonder Woman and others. In the 80s, he still was playing the classy villain in lesser adventures such as Airwolf, Knight Rider and Scarecrow and Mrs. King.

Paulsen's only prime-time series role was in 1975's Doctors Hospital, a short-lived and long-forgotten NBC medical drama. He played the director of a Los Angeles hospital that employed a typically tough-but-dedicated surgeon played by series star George Peppard (below). Paulsen did, however, take regular roles in two daytime serials. He was part of the original cast of ABC's unsuccessful 1970 soap opera A World Apart, and some of his last TV work was seen in 1988 in ABC's veteran soap General Hospital.

    Selected Albert Paulsen TVography

12 O'Clock High
- Runway in the Dark (1965)
- The Clash (1965)

77 Sunset Strip
- Never to Have Loved (1963)
- Our Man in Switzerland (1963)

A World Apart
- Episode (1971)

- Crossover (1985)

Armstrong Circle Theatre
- The Use of Dignity (1954)

- Murder MTV (1984)

Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre
- Memorandum for a Spy (1965)
- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (1963)

Buick-Electra Playhouse
- The Snows of Kilimanjaro (1960)

Burke's Law
- Whatever Happened to Adriana and Why Won't She Stay Dead? (1965)

- Christmas Day Is Breaking Wan (1964)

Charlie's Angels
- Angels on a String (1977)

- The Conspirators (1978)

- Retribution (1966)
- The Pillbox (1964)
- Escape to Nowhere (1962)
- Forgotten Front (1962)

The Defenders
- The Locked Room (1962)

Doctors' Hospital
- Knives of Chance (1975)

The F.B.I.
- The Sacrifice (1966)

The Farmer's Daughter
- The Oscar Hummingbird Story (1965)

The Flying Nun
- Cyrano de Bertrille (1968)

Frontier Circus
- Karina (1961)

Galactica 1980
- Galactica Discovers Earth: Part 2 and 3

The Gallant Men
- Operation Secret (1963)

G.E. True
- Heydrich (1963)
- The Wrong Nickel (1962)

General Hospital
Gen. Gastineau (1988)

Goodyear Playhouse
- Thunder of Silence (1954)

- Marked for Murder (1973)

Hawaii Five-O
- Clash of Shadows (1980)
- Nine, Ten, You're Dead (1971)
- The Guarnerius Caper (1970)
- Just Lucky, I Guess (1969)

- Murder on the Thirteenth Floor (1974)

The High Chaparral
- The New Lion of Sonora (1971)

I Spy
- The Loser (1965)

The Investigator
- Episode #1.3 (1958)

- A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread - and POW (1966)

Joe Forrester
- The Invaders (1976)

- Monkey on a String (1977)

Kolchak: The Night Stalker
- The Sentry (1975)

Knight Rider
- The Nineteenth Hole (1985)

Kraft Suspense Theatre
- The Safe House (1965)

The Lloyd Bridges Show
- Freedom Is for Those Who Want It (1963)

Lux Video Theatre
- Cafe Ami (1951)

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
- The Seven Wonders of the World Affair (1968)
- The Terbuf Affair (1964)

- Night of the Scorpion (1983)

Medical Center
- Crown of Thorns (1975)

Mission: Impossible
- Squeeze Play (1970)
- Orpheus (1970)
- The Bargain (1968)
- The Survivors (1967)
- Memory (1966)

Movin' On
- Ammo (1975)

The Name of the Game
- The Revolutionary (1968)

- The Patriots (1968)

The Odd Couple
- The Roy Clark Show (1975)

Police Story
- Cop in the Middle (1974)

- Walk in the Sky (1968)
- Call to Danger (1968)

Quincy M.E.
- The Last of Leadbottom (1982)
- Dear Mummy (1981)

The Rat Patrol
- The Field of Death Raid (1968)
- The Life Against Death Raid (1966)

The Rockford Files
- Profit and Loss, Part 2: Loss (1974)

Run for Your Life
- The Word Would Be Goodbye (1967)

Ryan's Four
- Ryan's Four (1983)

Scarecrow and Mrs. King
- All the World's a Stage (1986)

- Dead Reckoning (1966)

- Let Us Prey (1973)

The Silent Force
- The Octopus (1970)

Starsky and Hutch
- Shootout (1975)

Stop Susan Williams
- Crypt of Disaster

- Quicker Than the Eye (1976)

Trapper John, M.D.
- The Surrogate (1979)

The Trials of O'Brien
- The 10-Foot, 6-Inch Pole (1966)

The Untouchables
- The Pea (1962)

The Wizard
- El Dorado (1986

Wonder Woman
- My Teenage Idol Is Missing (1978)

Young Dr. Kildare
- The Don (1972)

    Selected Albert Paulsen Filmography


Wild Wind


Side Show (TV Movie)



The Girl Who Saved the World (TV Movie)


The Gypsy Warriors


McNamara's Band (TV Movie)


The Next Man

Louis Armstrong - Chicago Style (TV Movie)


One of Our Own (TV Movie)

Search for the Gods (TV Movie)


The Missiles of October (TV Movie)


The Laughing Policeman

Carola (TV Movie)


Mrs. Pollifax-Spy


Call to Danger (TV Movie)




The Three Sisters


The Manchurian Candidate

All Fall Down


The Snows of Kilimanjaro (TV Movie)

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