(written from a Production point of view)
Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, he was known for his roles in the Mel Brooks films The Producers and Young Frankenstein and for playing Otto Mannkusser on the TV series Malcolm in the Middle. He was also known for voicing King Triton in Disney's 1989 film The Little Mermaid.
A veteran of farcical comedy, Mars was perhaps best recognized for his zany, over-the-top performances in two of Mel Brooks' most well-known films, The Producers in 1968 and Young Frankenstein in 1974. In the former, he portrayed Franz Liebkind, the Nazi playwright of Springtime for Hitler; in the latter, he played Inspector Kemp, a police officer with a creaky wooden arm, a monocle over an eye patch, and an absurd German accent. Mars' co-stars in Young Frankenstein included one-time TOS guest actress Terri Garr.
His comedic talents were also utilized by director Peter Bogdanovich for his films What's Up, Doc? (1972, with Stefan Gierasch, Graham Jarvis, and Sean Morgan) and Illegally Yours (1988, with Leon Rippy). He was additionally directed by filmmaker Woody Allen in two comedies, 1987's Radio Days and 1991's Shadows and Fog. Both of these films co-starred Robert Joy and Wallace Shawn, while Mike Starr appeared in the former and Richard Riehle, Camille Saviola, Kurtwood Smith, and David Ogden Stiers had roles in the latter.
Mars played many dramatic roles, as well. He had a supporting role as a marshal in the acclaimed, Academy Award-winning 1969 western adventure Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, along with Ted Cassidy, Jeff Corey, Charles Dierkop, and Don Keefer. He then had the lead male role in the 1971 drama Desperate Characters, in which he and Shirley MacLaine play a middle-aged, middle class, childless Brooklyn couple trapped in a loveless marriage. Mars afterward landed roles in a pair of thrillers; the first was 1974's The Parallax View, which also featured an uncredited performance by Star Trek: Insurrection actor Anthony Zerbe. The following year, Mars co-starred in Night Moves with Harris Yulin.
Despite his dramatic film work, Mars maintained a propensity for comedic roles. Some of his other comedic films in addition to those with Brooks, Bogdanovich, and Allen include 1969's The April Fools (with Sally Kellerman), 1979's The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again (directed by Vincent McEveety and co-starring Ted Gehring, Ed McCready, Robert Pine, and Nick Ramus), 1983's Yellowbeard (with production designed by Joseph R. Jennings), and 1984's Protocol (with Ed Begley, Jr., Joel Brooks, Cliff DeYoung, Jeanne Mori, Chris Sarandon, Gail Strickland, Keith Szarabajka, George D. Wallace, and Paul Willson). He also had a supporting role in the hit 1985 comic thriler Fletch, in which he worked with Bruce French and fellow DS9 guest actor Richard Libertini.
He later appeared in 1989's Police Academy 6: City Under Siege, along with Arthur Batanides, David Graf, Gerrit Graham, Darryl Henriques, and Matt McCoy. Mars again worked with David Graf, as well as the aforementioned Kurtwood Smith, in the 1996 comic drama Citizen Ruth. Mars and Kurtwood again appeared together in the 2002 comedy Teddy Bears' Picnic, which also featured Henry Gibson, Michael McKean, Robert Mandan, and Brenda Strong. This was Mars' final feature film.
Regular and recurring roles
On television, aside from voice work, Mars was a regular on the short-lived (1968-69) CBS comedy series He & She, as was his fellow DS9 guest star Hamilton Camp. He then became a regular on The Don Knotts Show along with Frank Welker. Mars later played W. D. "Bud" Prize on the talk show parody series Fernwood 2 Night (1977) and America 2-Night (1978). Mars was also a regular on The Carol Burnett Show during the 1974-1975 season. In 1979, Mars briefly became a regular skit performer on Carol Burnett & Company.
In 2001, Mars had a three-episode recurring role as Melvin on the CBS sitcom Becker. His DS9 co-star, Terry Farrell, was a regular on this series. From 2002 through 2004, Mars played the recurring role of Otto Mannkusser, Francis' German boss and sidekick, on the Fox Network series Malcolm in the Middle. In total, Mars appeared in twenty-seven episodes of the series, the first of which guest-starred Daniel Roebuck. Mars' subsequent episodes also featured Jason Alexander, David Burke, Marcy Goldman, Larry A. Hankin, Sherman Howard, James W. Jansen, Robert Joy, David A. Kimball, Ken Land, Tom McCleister, Don McManus, Mark Moses, Holmes R. Osborne, Jeremy Roberts, Jonathan Schmock, Tucker Smallwood, Kurtwood Smith, Todd Stashwick, Mark L. Taylor, Hallie Todd, Tom Towles, Michael Shamus Wiles, and Paul Willson.
1960s and 1970s
One of Mars' earliest TV appearances was a 1967 episode of Gunsmoke directed by Marc Daniels and co-starring Michael Ansara, Jonathan Lippe, and Richard Webb. Daniels later directed Mars in episodes of Love, American Style, Insight, and Alice (the latter of which starred Vic Tayback). Later that same year, he guest-starred on the comedy spy series Get Smart, along with William Schallert. In 1969, Mars appeared in an episode of the crime drama Mannix with Paul Carr and Warren Stevens and an episode of Room 222, the family drama which starred Lloyd Haynes.
Mars appeared in two episodes of the police drama McMillan & Wife, on which John Schuck was a regular cast member; one episode featured David Huddleston, the other Michael Ansara. Mars also worked with Schuck in an unsold TV pilot for CBS called Shepherd's Flock, in which Mars played the lead role.
Mars later appeared in two episodes of Harry O, working with Henry Darrow (who was a main cast member on the show for Mars' first episode), Granville Van Dusen, and Robert Ito. In addition, he guest-starred in two episodes of Police Woman, which starred Charles Dierkop; the first episode was directed by Alexander Singer. Mars also appeared in the pilot movie for the 1970s Wonder Woman series, along with Henry Gibson and Ian Wolfe. Other shows on which Mars appeared throughout the 1970s include Barney Miller (starring James Gregory and Ron Glass), Baa Baa Black Sheep (starring John Larroquette and James Whitmore, Jr.), Columbo (with Theodore Bikel and Samantha Eggar), and The Tony Randall Show (with Diana Muldaur).
In 1981, Mars appeared as Mr. Harris, the new headmaster of the all-girls Eastland School, on the sitcom The Facts of Life. He only did one episode, however, before his character was replaced by Mr. Parker, played by TOS guest star Roger Perry. Mars later appeared in two episodes of Hardcastle and McCormick, on which Brian Keith and Daniel Hugh Kelly starred in the title roles. Mars' first episode co-starred David Spielberg; in his second episode, which also guest-starred Leslie Bevis, Claudette Nevins, Phil Rubenstein, and Voyager's Robert Picardo, Mars played the brother of Brian Keith's character, Judge Hardcastle.
Mars also guest-starred in two episodes of Trapper John, M.D. (one with Bibi Besch and both with Madge Sinclair, who was a regular on the show), two episodes of Magnum, P.I. (including one with Samantha Eggar), and three episodes of Simon & Simon (working with Cecily Adams, Parley Baer, William Boyett, Darleen Carr, Mary Carver, Gary Lockwood, Bebe Neuwirth, and director Michael Vejar). In 1985, Mars worked with Scott Jaeck, Richard McGonagle, and DS9 regular Nana Visitor in an episode of Remington Steele directed by Alexander Singer. Among the other television shows in which Mars appeared during the 1980s are Barnaby Jones (starring Lee Meriwether), Murder, She Wrote (in which he and Diana Muldaur played a separated husband and wife), and The Twilight Zone (in a segment with David Birney and William Utay).
1990s and 2000s
In the 1990s, Mars was seen on such series as 227 (with Paul Winfield), Civil Wars (with Susan Bay, Kevin Brophy, Ray Buktenica, Lawrence Dobkin, Jenette Goldstein, Louise Fletcher, Jennifer Hetrick, Sharon Lawrence, and George D. Wallace), L.A. Law (with Armin Shimerman and Kate Vernon and series regulars Corbin Bernsen and Larry Drake), Diagnosis: Murder (directed by Leo Penn and co-starring Mark Moses, Cliff DeYoung, and Michael Shamus Wiles), and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (with Teri Hatcher and K Callan). In addition, Mars starred with Terry Farrell in the unsold TV pilot Mimi & Me; Mars and Farrell later acted together on DS9 and Becker.
Mars guest-starred on such shows as The Pretender (with Leland Orser), Nash Bridges (with Melinda Clarke, Caroline Lagerfelt, Richard Libertini, and Marc Worden), and Will & Grace. He was seen in a 2007 episode of the popular Disney series Hannah Montana.
Mars starred or appeared in numerous made-for-TV movies throughout the 1970s. His earliest was the 1972 comic drama Second Chance, which co-starred fellow DS9 guest actor Brian Keith and TOS guest actor William Windom. Mars also had a supporting role in the 1975 TV adaptation of the Broadway musical It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman, which also featured Malachi Throne.
Lou Antonio directed Mars, Granville Van Dusen, and Andrew Robinson in the 1975 drama Someone I Touched. In 1979, Kim Friedman directed Mars in the drama Before and After. Also in 1979, Mars played Mr. Kolenkhov in the CBS adaptation of the Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman play You Can't Take It With You. This movie also featured supporting performances by Robert Mandan, Alan Oppenheimer, and Eugene Roche.
In 1982, Mars again worked with William Windom, as well as Melinda Culea, in the CBS mini-series The Rules of Marriage. In 1989, Mars was seen in Get Smart, Again!, a TV movie spin-off of the 1960s spy parody series Get Smart. John de Lancie and Cecily Adams also had supporting roles in Get Smart, Again!; Gayne Rescher was the director of photography.
Mars starred in very few TV movies after 1989. He did appear in two TV movies which aired in 2000: the thriller Runaway Virus with Larry Drake and the Fox Network comedy How to Marry a Billionaire: A Christmas Tale with the aforementioned Hamilton Camp. These were his final TV movie credits.
In later years, Mars became most recognizable for supplying his voice to several animated characters. Perhaps his most notable voice-over role is that of King Triton in the 1989 Walt Disney film The Little Mermaid. He subsequently voiced Triton on the 1990s TV series spin-off of The Little Mermaid, the 2000 direct-to-video sequel The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, and in the Kingdom Hearts video games.
The Little Mermaid and The Little Mermaid II also featured the voice of DS9 star Rene Auberjonois as the French chef, Louie. Mars and Auberjonois have also collaborated as voice actors on such animated shows as The Jetsons, Challenge of the GoBots, and Pirates of Dark Water. Other voice actors in The Little Mermaid include Hamilton Camp, Paddi Edwards, and Gerrit Graham; The Little Mermaid II featured the voices of Clancy Brown, Kay E. Kuter, and Frank Welker.
Mars voiced characters on several other television shows for Disney, including DuckTales as the god Vulcan, TaleSpin as Buzz (a bird inventor who worked for Shere Kahn, voiced by Tony Jay) and Heimlich Menudo (a leopard criminal whose henchman was voiced by David L. Lander), and Darkwing Duck as the villainous walrus, Tuskerninni. He also lent his voice to episodes of the animated Warner Bros. shows Tiny Toon Adventures, Animaniacs, and Freakazoid! In addition, Mars and Star Trek: Voyager star Kate Mulgrew voiced characters in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "The Lion and the Unicorn". His other TV voice-over roles include Mr. Potato Head on Potato Head Kids (which also featured the voice of Scott Grimes), Greystone Giant on Potsworth & Co. (with Clive Revill voicing the title character), and Sweet William on Fievel's American Tails (which starred Phillip Glasser as Fievel).
Mars voiced Littlefoot, the dinosaur's grandfather, in the numerous Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels. Some of his other film voice-over credits include 1993's We're Back: A Dinosaur's Story (as the villain, Professor Screweyes) and 1994's Thumbelina (as King Colbert). Mars can also be heard in the 2003 video game Freelancer, as can George Takei, as well as in 1997's Fallout alongside Ron Perlman, Tony Jay, David Warner, Clancy Brown and Frank Welker.
Other Trek connections
- Viva Max (1969, with Ted Gehring and Larry A. Hankin)
- The Parallax View (1974, with William Daniels, John S. Ragin, Ted Gehring, and Anthony Zerbe)
- Goin' Coconuts (1978, with Ted Cassidy and Marc Lawrence)
- Prince Jack (1985, with Theodore Bikel and William Windom)
- Rented Lips (1988, with Michael Shamus Wiles)
- Rough Magic (1995, with Michael Ensign)
- The Ghost & Mrs. Muir episode "Tourist, Go Home" (1970, with Guy Raymond)
- Hawkins episode "Murder in Movieland" (1973, with William Smithers)
- Family episode "Jury Duty" (1976, with Jerry Hardin)
- Carter Country episode "Chief to Chief" (1977, with Harvey Vernon)
- Bunco (1977 TV pilot, with Jonathan Lippe and Meg Wyllie; directed by Alexander Singer)
- Supertrain episode "The Queen and the Improbable Knight" (1979, with Charlie Brill and Nehemiah Persoff)
- Heaven Only Knows (1979 TV movie, with Harvey Jason)
- Tucker's Witch episode "Terminal Case" (1982, with Catherine Hicks and Bert Remsen)
- Small & Frye episode "Pilot" (1983, with Jack Blessing)
- The Duck Factory episode "You Always Love the One You Hurt" (1984, with John Hancock)
- Whiz Kids episode "The Lollypop Gang Strikes Back" (1984, with Elisha Cook)
- Basic Values: Sex, Shock & Censorship in the 90's (1993 Showtime special, with Tracey Walter)
- Boston Common episode "A Triage Grows in Boston" (1996, with Sam Anderson)
- The Drew Carey Show episode "Hello/Goodbye" (1997, with Diedrich Bader)
- Weird Science episode "Stalag 16" (1997, with Larry A. Hankin)
- L.A. Doctors episode "Every Picture Tells a Story" (1999, with Erich Anderson, Joel Polis, and Vanessa Williams)