Brown - Dark
St. Paul, Minnesota, USA
Place of Death
Essex, Connecticut, USA
Cause of Death
Profile Bio Text
A familiar character face in movies and television, Walter Abel was a dedicated stage actor who had studied at the prestigious American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York before moving on to a progression of stage work that culminated in his first appearance on Broadway in the original play "Forbidden" in late 1919. The year before he had just dabbled in the relatively new film industry doing Out of a Clear Sky (1918) directed by prolific silent actor and director Marshall Neilan. Abel did just one other silent and then moved back into serious stage work for ten years (including doing some road productions in 1924) before once again surfacing in film for the first sound version of the play Liliom (1930). Perhaps he was enticed with doing the play on film, but his was a small part and the sound of early talkies - as usual - was lousy. Once again Abel returned to Broadway and worked steadily from late 1930 into part of the 1934 season. He would have some 40 Broadway roles in his career.
About that time his stage success was noticed by Hollywood, and he was signed with RKO. The studio had decided to do the first sound version of Alexander Dumas` The Three Musketeers (1935) which first appeared as a silent in 1922 with Douglas Fairbanks. The part of the enthusiastic but novice D`Artagnan really called for a younger actor reflecting those traits, and RKO decided to go with Abel. He had a bright voice and an animated style of theater acting that seemed a good bet. It was all the more impressive considering Abel was in his mid 30s - but he looked younger. RKO did not skimp on the film. The director was Rowland Lee, who had just finished another Dumas filming, The Count of Monte Cristo (1934) with Robert Donat. The rousing music was composed by Max Steiner, and the costumes were gloriously rendered by Walter Plunkett.
Abel had a strong supporting cast in the three musketeers: Paul Lukas, Moroni Olsen, and Onslow Stevens. Imposing European leading man Lukas and LA native Stevens had transitioned from silent films. This was Olsen`s first movie, but he was a stage actor with his own acting troupe and some Broadway experience. As Porthos he had the opportunity to boom and bellow with hammy 19th century theatrics that fit the part. Abel`s competence and an experienced cast showed in an enthusiastic rendition of the story with dueling set ups by first-time fencing choreographer Ralph Faulkner that would be taken to heart by later productions. So those who have tended to hindsight this film as a pale forerunner of later versions really do it a contextual injustice.
The movie did well enough, and Abel moved among second tier RKO leads through 1938, while playing support to bigger names. But that is showbiz - obviously he was destined as a supporting actor, and he handled both comedy and drama with a self-assured style that kept him very busy through the 1940s. He was back on Broadway occasionally as well, with a last appearance in 1975. By 1949 he quickly embraced early TV playhouse productions and would appear in some 30 roles by 1960. He transitioned to being a familiar face on episodic TV along with a few more film roles through the 1960s and up to just a few years before his passing.
Couple Profile Source
American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York
Full Name at Birth
Walter Abel (June 6, 1898 – March 26, 1987) was an American stage and film character actor. Known as a prolific and very dependable character actor, Abel appeared in over 200 films, beginning in the silent film era. Often portraying characters of "responsibility," (the minister keeping morale up in a war zone in "So Proudly We Hail," the colonel leading a rescue effort in "Island in the Sky"), Abel was a regular in films of the 1940s and 1950s, in particular. A distinctive bearing and direct gaze were two of his trademarks. His eyes were brown and his (adult) height was five feet ten inches.
Claim to Fame
Has Detailed Data (New)
Wiki Bio Text
==Walter Abel== Actor - A graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, American actor Walter Abel began his stage career in 1919, and made his first film in 1920. Tall and quietly dignified, Abel was well cast in several of the plays of Eugene O'Neill. His first talking picture role was as the industrious young bridegroom Wolf in Liliom (1930). Abel had a go at a romantic lead when he replaced Francis Lederer as D'Artagnan in the 1935 version of The Three Musketeers; but the film was dull and Abel's performance mannered, so, thereafter, he was more effectively cast in top supporting roles. With his performance as the prosecuting attorney in Fury, Abel established his standard screen image: the well-groomed, mustachioed professional man, within whom lurked a streak of barely controlled hysteria. In this guise, Abel was excellent as the dyspeptic newspaper editor in Arise My Love (1940) and as Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire's long-suffering agent in Holiday Inn (1942). Busier on stage and television than in films during the 1950s, Abel received extensive critical and public attention for his role as a doomed industrialist in the 1966 melodrama Mirage. Sent out by Universal to promote the film, Abel regaled talk-show hosts with the story of how his fatal plunge from a skyscraper was actually filmed. Also during this period, Abel was appointed president of the American National Theatre and Academy. His last screen performance was opposite Katharine Hepburn in [[The Ultimate Solution of Grace Quigley]] (1984).
Biography by Hal Erickson [-]
==Walter Abel== (June 6, 1898 – March 26, 1987) was an American stage and film character actor. Known as a prolific and very dependable character actor, Abel appeared in over 200 films, beginning in the silent film era. Often portraying characters of "responsibility," (the district attorney prosecuting the lynch mob in Fury, the minister keeping morale up in a war zone in So Proudly We Hail! and the colonel leading a rescue effort in Island in the Sky), Abel was a regular in films of the 1940's and 1950's, in particular. A distinctive bearing and direct gaze were two of his trademarks. His eyes were brown and his height was 5'10" (178 cm).
===Life=== Abel was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of Christine (née Becker) and Richard Michael Abel. Abel graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where he had studied in 1917 and joined a touring company. His brother Alfred died in 1922 from tuberculosis contracted while serving overseas in World War I. Abel was married to concert harpist [[Marietta Bitter]].
Couple Profile Source
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