Martin E. Brooks, best known for playing Dr. Rudy Wells in the television series The Six Million Dollar Man, and its spinoff series, The Bionic Woman, as well as three made-for-television movies, has died. He was 90-years-old.
In 1975, Martin E. Brooks became the third actor to portray Dr. Rudy Wells — the doctor who oversees the bionic implants on the series’ respective titular heroes — following in the footsteps of Martin Balsam and Alan Oppenheimer. Brooks continued to portray Dr. Wells on both television series until they were ultimately cancelled in 1978. Martin E. Brooks also reprised the role in three made-for-TV movies: 1987’s The Return of the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, 1989’s Bionic Showdown: The Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman, and finally, 1994’s Bionic Breakdown.
Brooks was born Martin Baum in 1925 in the Bronx, New York City. When he was 10-years-old, his family moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where his father opened the Blue Bell Dress Factory. When Martin finished high school, he enlisted in the army and served as a paratrooper with the 11th Airborne Division during WWII. He was eventually awarded the Purple Heart for injuries sustained in battle, reports Variety.
After the war, Martin enrolled at Penn State University, and attended Erwin Piscator’s Dramatic Workshop of the New School for Social Research in New York City, during which time he won the off-Broadway best actor award for his performance in Wolfgang Bochert’s Outside the Door. It was then that Martin Baum changed his name to Martin E. Brooks at the suggestion of producer Richard Rodgers.
In the 1950s, Brooks worked on Broadway, including roles in John Steinbeck’s Burning Bright — for which he was awarded a Theatre World Award and a Donaldson Award — Arthur Miller’s adaptation of Enemy of the People, Arch Oboler’s Night of the Auk, and John Van Druten’s I Am a Camera — for which he received a Tony nomination.
Brooks’ portrayal of Dr. Rudy Wells may have been his best known role, but it certainly wasn’t his only one. Martin was also well known for his appearances in several other television series, such as his portrayals of Ted Burton in Knots Landing, Dr. Arthur Bradshaw on General Hospital, Deputy D.A. Chapman on MacMillan & Wife, Mike Snow on Hunter, Dr. Larwin on Cagney & Lacey, and Edgar Randolph, the main suspect of J.R. Ewing’s shooting on Dallas.
Martin E. Brooks also appeared in several movies, including 1957’s Johnny Gunman, 1970’s Colossus: The Forbin Project, and 1972’s The Man.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, Brooks was also an author, having written two novels, Danny Brown and Roman Candle, as well as a play, entitled Flo and Joe, which was optioned for a Broadway production.
During his time away from the screen, Brooks taught at the Tracy Roberts Acting School, which he co-owned with his late friend, Tracy Roberts. In 2014, Martin released his first CD, entitled A Life Filled With Love, which featured songs he had written and recorded in the 1960s and 1970s.
Jon Landau, producer of hit films Avatar and Titanic, told the Hollywood Reporter that Brooks was the “soul mate” of Landau’s mother, Edie, for the past twenty years. Martin and Edie grew up together in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and had been great friends as children. When Edie’s husband died in 1993, she and Brooks reconnected, and had been together ever since.
Landau confirmed that Brooks passed away of natural causes on Monday, December 7, in his home in Studio City, California. The family has chosen not to hold a memorial service.
Martin E. Brooks is survived by his long-time partner, Edie Landau, as well as two nephews, Charles and Danny, and his grandnephews, Ted, Mike, Mark, Jay, and Aaron.
[Image via MartinEBrooks.net]