On Monday, December 12, 2022, Stuart Margolin, a character actor arguably best known for playing Jame Garner’s sidekick, Evelyn’ Angel” Martin, on the hit 70s detective drama series The Rockford Files, passed away at the age of 82. This heartbreaking news was first delivered to us by Margolin’s stepdaughter Michelle Martini. Likewise, his stepson, actor Max Martini, best known for his role in the mid-2000s CBS action-drama series The Unit, reported Stuart’s death on Instagram.
A decade ago, Margolin had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, but according to another one of his stepsons, director Christopher Martini, the late actor died of natural causes in Staunton, Virginia.
In addition to his prominent role on The Rockford Files, Margolin was also known for bringing his manic and manipulative persona to the Blake Edward’s movies S.O.B, which hit theaters in 1981, and 1986s A Fine Mess. In the former, he portrayed Julie Andrew’s character’s devious personal assistant. In the latter, he played a bumbling crook who couldn’t seem to pull off a successful heist if his life depended on it.
Margolin appeared in dozens of other TV shows and films throughout his four-decade-spanning career. Over the years, he frequently teamed back up with James Garner in a handful of other offerings. We’ll be covering some of the most significant highlights of his Hollywood career as well as a fair bit of details about his personal life in this facts-packed video. So be sure to stick around to see just how many of his films and television shows you’ve personally seen.
We’ll also be taking the time to honor his life by highlighting Stuart’s long list of personal accomplishments.
Facts Verse Presents: RIP Stuart Margolin – James Garner’s Right-Hand Man Has Died
Stuart Margolin’s Early Life
Margolin was born on the 31st of January, 1940, in Davenport, Iowa. His parents were Gertrude and Morris Margolin, and he spent the bulk of his childhood in Dallas, Texas, where he learned how to play golf.
Margolin would later admit that he was a bit of a troublemaker in his younger years. In fact, he once described his kid self as being ‘hoodlum’.
After being expelled from the Texas public school system, Stuart’s parents shipped him off to a boarding school for wayward boys in Nashville, Tennessee.
While attending that school, his family relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona. When he was released from the reform school and moved back in with his family, his parents arranged for him to attend a private school.
After finishing up his primary education, Margolin moved out to New York to live with his elder brother, Arnold, who was performing on Broadway at the time as a replacement actor in the original production of the play The Diary of Anne Frank. He then attended a summer theater camp in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. While there, he met Barney Brown, an actor, director, and instructor who had mentored folks like Gene Hackman, Robert Duvall, and Dustin Hoffman.
Margolin went on to follow Brown to Southern California, where he was working at the Pasadena Playhouse. He spent the next couple of years studying and honing his craft there before returning to New York.
He Enjoyed A Prolific TV and Film Carrer
Margolin made his screen debut in 1961, appearing in an episode of the CBS sitcom The Gertrude Berg Show. He then enjoyed a recurring role as a Navy Man on NBC’s Ensign O’Toole. In that series, he shared the screen with Dean Jones. After that, he kept himself busy making numerous appearances on series such as The Fugitive, 12 O’Clock High, Burke’s Law, The Monkees, and Occasional Wife.
On ABC’s anthology comedy series Love American Style, Stuart joined an ensemble cast that included the likes of Phyllis Davis, Barbara Minkins, and James Hampton. On that program, he appeared weekly in several blackout sketches that joined the scripted segments together. Interestingly, Stuart’s brother, Arnold Margolin, was one of the show’s executive producers. Not only that, but he also co-wrote it’s theme song and served as one of the program’s lead writers.
Margolin’s first major film role was in the 1970 war film Kelly’s Heroes. In that movie, he played Private “Little Joe”. His next significant film role saw him sharing the screen with the legendary James Caan in 1974s The Gambler. From there, he made appearences in several episodes of M*A*S*H as well as in films such as 1976s Furtureworld (the sequel to Westworld) and 1978s Days Of Heaven.
Most notably during this era of Margolin’s Career, he portrayed the recurring character Evelyn “Angel” Martin on NBC’s The Rockford Files. Angel was a shifty fella who was friends with the series lead character Jim Rockford, played by Margolin’s lifelong friend and frequent collaborator James Garner.
The two characters had formerly served time together in prison as cellmates. Angel’s constant scheming usually ended up landing Rockford in a ton of hot water, but it’s undeniable that the two characters shared a tremendous amount of chemistry.
Margolin had previously worked with Garner in the Western series Nichois which aired on NBC from 1971 to 1972. In that series, he played a very similar character to Angel. The seeries only ran for a single season before getting axed, but that’s all it took for the two actors to kick off a friendship and professional relationship that would endure for decades.
In the Rockford Files, Rockford would occasionally pay Angel to go out and ‘hit the streets’ to sweep up some intel that would help him solve a case. For his performance in the series, Margolin ended up winning two Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, first in 1979 and once again in 1980. Impressively, he’s one of just five actors who have won this award twice for the same role.
In 1969, Margolin co-produced and wrote an ABC television movie called The Ballad of Andy Crocker, proving that his talents weren’t just limited to performing in front of the camera. The film was notable for being one of the first to deal with the subject of Vietnam vets returning home from the war. Not only did he write and co-produce the film, but he also penned it’s title music and made a brief, albeit uncredited, cameo appearance in it.
Margolin would later revisit the subject matter of the Vietnam war in 1977 when he had an uncredited role as a Station Wagon Driver in the Jeremy Paul Kagan-directed film Heroes.
In 1976, Margolin portrayed Rabbi David Small in the film Lanigan’s Rabbi. While the film inspired a short-lived TV series that aired in 1977, scheduling conflicts prevented him from reprising his role. Instead, the part of Rabbi Small went to Bruce Solomon.
In addition to the television roles that we previously mentioned, Margolin would also appear in series such as That Girl, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Land Of Giants, Rhoda, Magnum PI, The Fall Guy, and Hill Street Blues.
Later in his career, he would also appear on Touched by an Angel and, more recently in a 2009 episode of 30 Rock. In the latter, Stuart appeared opposite Alan Alda. The two actors had previously appeared alongside each other in those aforementioned episodes of M*A*S*H in 1974.
He Was Also A Director
Margolin directed numerous TV shows since the early 70s. Some of his most notable directorial credits were for episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Love Boat, Magnum PI, Sara, Quantum Leap, Bret Maverick, Wonder Woman, and Northern Exposure.
Not only did he act in both the original series as well as the TV movie versions of The Rockford Files, but he also directed several episodes, including 1977s Dirty Money, Black Light, 1974s, Caledonia – It’s Worth a Fortune, and 1996s, The Rockford Files: Friends and Foul Play.
In 1996, Margolin won the DGA Award for children’s programming for directing the movie Salt Water Moose. He was nominated again in 1998 for directing the film The Sweetest Gift. He additionally was nominated for a DGA Award for drama series direction for his work directing a 1991 episode of Northern Exposure entitled Goodbye to All That.
He Was A Decent Songwriter and Singer
Margolin wrote several songs for his close friend Jerry Riopelle. Many of Margolin’s songs have been featured on the singer-songwriters albums since 1967. The two first started working with each other when Riopelle started his band, The Parade, in the late 60s. With that project, the two collaborated on many songs, and Margolin even played percussion on a handful of tracks.
In 1969, the two teamed up with Shango member Tommy Reynolds to record Shango’s Caribbean-inspired novelty record Day After Day (It’s Slippin Away). The track ended up peaking at number 57 on the US Billboard charts and number 39 in Canada.
Riopelle ended up having a long-running musical career releasing 8 albums between 1971 and ’82. On each of these albums, at least one song was co-written by Margolin.
Likewise, Margolin ended up releasing a solo album of his own , And the Angel Sings, in 1980. That record featured several new interpretations of compositions that Margolin and Riopelle had previously worked on together.
He Was A Devoted Husband and Father
Margolin got married to Patricia Dunne Martini in 1982. Martini had three children to whom Margolin became stepfather, Max Martini, Michelle Martine, and Christopher Martini. All three children would go on to find success in the entertainment industry in various capacities.
Stuart’s older brother is also a noteworthy name in show business. Arnold Margolin is an Emmy Award-winning director, producer, and writer best known for his work with Love, American Style.
Margolin, his wife, and step kids lived in British Columbia, Canada, on an island called Salt Spring Island for the better part of two decades. He later ended up moving to Staunton, Virginia, where he passed away of natural causes on December 12, 2022.
Stuart Margolin may not be the best-known name in Hollywood, but there’s no denying the impact that he had on the industry. He will be sorely missed, and his legacy will live on through his body of work and that of his stepchildren.
On that note, we’ll go ahead and wrap this video up, but before you move on to watching another one of our videos, take a moment to show us a little support by sharing your thoughts and feelings about Stuart Margolin’s life, career, and death in the comments section down below.
Did you know that Stuart Margolin was not only an actor but also a director and songwriter, and were you aware that his brother Arnold Margolin is also a fairly well-known name in television? Let us know, and as always, thanks for watching!