One of the most memorable bad guys from the series who never actually killed anyone, Persoff's portrayal of Jesse Jerome was summed up beautifully by the magic shop guy, "Ah, dear Jesse. To know him was to despise him." I was actually shocked to hear he was still alive at 102. What an amazing life and so well-lived.
Persoff was so good in his role: the sweating, the "Heil Hitler" salute, the line deliveries. All these things plus the way Jesse Jerome tries to blackmail a Nazi instead of turning him, the way Jerome dismisses his co-partner, Harry,; the way the stage manager, George, says, "Do you think you could make HIM disappear? Don't tell him I said so."; the way the magic shop owner says, "Oh, dear Jesse. To know him is to detest him." All these things indicate he's a pretty miserable person. Not really such a bad guy, I suppose, but Persoff's performance always made me think Jerome sort of had it coming.