The brief career and shocking death of actor Frank Wolff


Frank Wolff began his acting career in the late 1950s with roles in several films directed by low-budget horror cult maestro Roger Corman.*

In 1960 he moved to Rome and became a popular character actor in more than fifty Italian-made movies, mostly crime flicks and Spaghetti Westerns.

Early in his European career, he landed a second-billed role as Vartan Damadian, the Armenian friend of the central character in the 1963 Elia Kazan film America, America. The movie received a ‘Best Picture’ nomination at the Academy Awards.

Remembering actor Frank Wolff
Frank Wolff in ‘America, America’

His most memorable, albeit briefest role was the friendly farmer Brett McBain who is gunned down in Sergio Leone’s 1968 classic Once Upon a Time in the West.

One of his last roles was playing a police commissioner in the 1972 Fernando Di Leo film Milano calibro 9. 

His brief, struggling movie career — and his life — ended in a Hilton Hotel room in Rome on December 12, 1971. Frank Wolff committed suicide by cutting his throat. He was 43.

* I’m happy to report that, as of this writing, Roger Corman is still alive at 95.

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