Actor Walter Abel

Walter Abel (June 6, 1898 – March 26, 1987) was an American film, stage and radio actor.


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.


Abel made his film debut in 1918 with a small part in Out of a Clear Sky.

He made his Broadway debut in Forbidden in 1919. In 1924 he appeared in two Eugene O’Neill plays simultaneously: Bound East for Cardiff at the Provincetown Playhouse and Desire Under the Elms at the Greenwich Village Theater. His many theatre credits include As You Like It (1923), William Congreve’s Love for Love (1925), Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull (1929-1930), Mourning Becomes Electra (1929), Kaufman and Hart’s Merrily We Roll Along (1934), and Trelawny of the ‘Wells’ (1975). He also appeared in Channing Pollock’s play The Enemy (1926) with Fay Bainter. The play was adapted to film as The Enemy (1927) with Lillian Gish and Ralph Forbes. He made his stage debut in London in the 1929 Coquette.

His first major film role was as D’Artagnan in RKO Pictures’ 1935 The Three Musketeers. Abel went on to play in more than sixty films. Abel was a vice president of the Screen Actors’ Guild. Abel played a major role in the 1942 musical comedy Holiday Inn, portraying hyperactive agent Danny Reed.

Abel also appeared as a concert narrator or reader with Eugene Ormandy the Philadelphia Orchestra in Aaron Copland’s Lincoln Portrait in 1951, and in Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood in 1953.


Abel died March 26, 1987, of a myocardial infarction at a nursing home in Essex, Connecticut. He was cremated and a memorial service was held at the Little Church Around the Corner in Manhattan. His ashes were combined with those of his wife and scattered in Long Island Sound.

Complete filmography

  • Out of a Clear Sky (1918) (uncredited)
  • The North Wind’s Malice (1920) as Tom
  • Liliom (1930) as Carpenter
  • The Three Musketeers (1935) as d’Artagnan
  • Two in the Dark (1936) as Ford ‘Jitney’ Adams
  • The Lady Consents (1936) as Stanley Ashton
  • The Witness Chair (1936) as James ‘Jim’ Trent
  • Fury (1936) as Adams, the district attorney
  • We Went to College (1936) as Philip Talbot
  • Second Wife (1936) as Kenneth Carpenter
  • Green Light (1937) as John Stafford
  • Portia on Trial (1937) as Dan Foster
  • Wise Girl (1937) as Karl Stevens
  • Law of the Underworld (1938) as Warren Rogers
  • Racket Busters (1938) as Allison
  • Men with Wings (1938) as Nick Ranson
  • King of the Turf (1939) as Robert Barnes
  • First Offenders (1939) as Gregory Stone
  • Miracle on Main Street (1940) as Jim Foreman
  • Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) as the Judge
  • Arise, My Love (1940) as Mr Phillips
  • Who Killed Aunt Maggie? (1940) as Dr. George Benedict
  • Michael Shayne, Private Detective (1940) as Elliott Thomas
  • Hold Back the Dawn (1941) as Inspector Hammock
  • Skylark (1941) as George Gore
  • Glamour Boy (1941) as Anthony J. Colder
  • Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942) as Professor Thornton
  • Holiday Inn (1942) as Danny Reed
  • Wake Island (1942) as Cmdr. Roberts
  • Star Spangled Rhythm (1942) as B.G. DeSoto
  • Fired Wife (1943) as Chris McClelland
  • The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith (1943, Short) as Jack, a flyer, opening narrator
  • So Proudly We Hail! (1943) as the Chaplain
  • Follow the Boys (1944) as Himself (uncredited)
  • The Hitler Gang (1944) as Narrator (voice)
  • Mr. Skeffington (1944) as George Trellis
  • An American Romance (1944) as Howard Clinton
  • The Affairs of Susan (1945) as Richard Aiken
  • Duffy’s Tavern (1945) as The Director
  • Kiss and Tell (1945) as Harry Archer
  • The Kid From Brooklyn (1946) as Gabby Sloan
  • 13 Rue Madeleine (1946) as Charles Gibson
  • The Hal Roach Comedy Carnival (1947) as Milo Terkle
  • The Fabulous Joe (1947) as Milo Terkle
  • Variety Girl (1947) as Himself (uncredited)
  • Dream Girl (1948) as George Allerton
  • Neighbor to the North (1948, Short) as The American
  • That Lady in Ermine (1948) as Maj. Horvath
  • Picture in Your Mind (1948, Short) as Narrator
  • So This Is Love (1953) as Col. James Moore
  • Island in the Sky (1953) as Col. Fuller
  • Night People (1954) as Maj. Foster, MD
  • The Indian Fighter (1955) as Capt. Trask
  • The Steel Jungle (1956) as Warden Keller
  • Bernardine (1957) as Mr. Beaumont
  • Raintree County (1957) as T.D. Shawnessy
  • Handle With Care (1958) as Prof. Bowdin
  • Quick, Let’s Get Married (1964) as The Thief
  • The Human Duplicators (1965) as Dr. Munson (uncredited)
  • Mirage (1965) as Charles Stewart Calvin
  • NBC Children’s Theater: “Super Plastic Elastic Goggles” (1971)
  • Silent Night, Bloody Night (1972) as Mayor Adams
  • The Man Without a Country (1973, TV Movie) as Col. A. B. Morgan
  • The American Woman: Portraits of Courage (1976, TV documentary) as Judge
  • Grace Quigley (1984) as Homer Morrison (final film role)
  • Radio appearances

    Year Program Episode/source
    1941 Gulf Screen Guild Theatre No Time for Comedy
    1944 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre Phantom Lady
    1945 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre Double Indemnity
    1947 Theatre Guild on the Air No Time for Comedy
    1947 Suspense Quiet Desperation
    1952 Theatre Guild on the Air The Bishop Misbehaves

    External Links

    Actor Walter Abel – Wikipedia

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