Shelly Levene

A washed-up real estate salesman in his fifties. Shelly "The Machine" Levene was successful years ago, but recently has hit a streak of "bad luck" and finds himself in danger of getting fired. He desperately wants to save his career, and this desperation is usually grotesquely apparent.

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Ricky Roma

A big-shot real estate salesman in his early forties. Roma is the top name on the board at his office, which means he is currently the most successful salesman. It is easy to see why he does better than the other men: he is smart, charming, and incredibly quick-witted. Rather than trying to force customers to submit to his sales tactics, as the others do, he lures people into thinking they want what he is selling.

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John Williamson

The manager of the real estate office, who is in his early forties. Williamson's job is to oversee the operations of the office and to assign the salesmen their leads. The salesmen dislike him because of his status as "company man"—he merely follows orders from Mitch and Murray, and the salesmen do not think he really understands the business.

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Dave Moss

An angry real estate salesman in his fifties. Moss harbors a great deal of resentment toward the company. He is not a subtle man, and tends to lash out angrily when under pressure. His sheer aggression makes him a more successful salesman than Aaronow or Levene, but he has none of Roma's verbal agility.

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George Aaronow

A timid real estate salesman in his fifties. Aaronow is extremely meek and mild- mannered. In conversation, faster talkers like Moss and Roma easily overpower him. His dullness is evident in his conversational tendency to merely repeat what other people are saying to him. Like Levene, Aaronow is not on the board and is in immediate danger of getting fired.

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James Lingk

A quiet, timid man in his early forties. We know that Lingk fears his wife, but we do not know what he does for a living or virtually anything else about his personal life. Lingk tells Roma that within his marriage he does not have the power to negotiate business deals.

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A police detective in his early forties. We learn extremely little about Baylen's personality, as he spends most of Act Two offstage in Williamson's inner office, interrogating the salesmen about their knowledge of the break-in. Baylen's presence increases the tension in Act Two: we are aware that Baylen is investigating in the next room while all the onstage action is happening, and we therefore know that Baylen will be right there to make an arrest when the thief's identity is revealed.

Mitch and Murray

The two bosses of the real estate company who never themselves appear as characters in the play. Mitch and Murray give Williamson orders about how to run the office. They institute the nerve-wracking "sales contest" wherein the best salesman that month will win a Cadillac and the worst two will be fired. Moss and Levene both believe that Mitch and Murray ultimately bear responsibility for the cruel and unforgiving nature of their work environment.

Jerry Graff

A former salesman who has gone into business for himself and never himself appears as a character in the play. In his new business, Graff now competes with Mitch and Murray. Moss suggests that Graff's business practices are wiser and more humane than Mitch and Murray's, but we have no way of knowing if this is true. At any rate, Graff's willingness to buy stolen leads demonstrates that he is no more ethical than Mitch and Murray.

Bruce and Harriett Nyborg

A couple who purchase real estate but never appear in the play as characters themselves. The Nyborgs are notorious in the sales community for wasting salesmen's time. They enjoy talking to salesmen but can never afford what they end up buying. They are classic "deadbeats."


A mysterious character we never see. When Roma threatens to get Williamson fired, he tells him of his plan to go to Mitch and Murray's office to talk to "Lemkin." This is all we know about Lemkin, but we can infer that he is someone of importance who has the power to terminate employees in Mitch and Murray's office. In fact, "Lemkin" may be Mitch or Murray's surname.