FROM WASP WOMAN TO SERGIO LEONE CLASSIC
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.
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.