Sunday, 26 April 2015

A Tribute To Whit Bissell

Whit Bissell: 

A solid supporting foundation for film & TV Sci-Fi

Whit Bissell was born in New York on 25 October. 1909. He died on 5 March, 1996 in Woodland Hills, California at the age of 86.

Whit Bissell began his career in the theatre where he appeared on Broadway in a production of "Hamlet" (1936), "Star-Wagon" (1937), "The American Way" (1939), "Cue for Passion" (1940), "Cafe Crown" (1942) and "Winged Victory" (1943).

In Hollywood, Whit Bissell acted in thrillers, Westerns and science-fiction films. In his many supporting roles, he came to be that familiar face of credible authority, invariably appearing in the role of a doctor, scientist, or general in some science fiction B-movie or TV series.

His many science fiction, horror and other film credits include;

  • That Lady in Ermine (1948)
  • For Heaven's Sake (1950)
  • Lost Continent (1951)
  • Target Earth (1954)
  • The Atomic Kid (1954)
  • Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954)
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  • I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957)
  • I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957)
  • Monster on the Campus (1958)
  • The Time Machine (1960)
  • The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
  • Seven Days in May (1964)
  • Fluffy (1965)
  • Soylent Green (1973)
  • Psychic Killer (1975)

He also appeared in various episodes of such popular TV series as;
  • Out There (1951) 
  • The 20th-Century Fox Hour (1955)
  • Science Fiction Theatre (1956) 
  • One Step Beyond (1959) 
  • Men into Space (1959) 
  • The Outer Limits (1963)
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (1963)
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1965)
  • The Time Tunnel Series (1966-1967) 
  • Star Trek (1967)
  • The Invaders (1967)
  • Land of the Giants (1970)

Whit Bissell managed to convey a sense of maturity, integrity, consistency and reliability as an actor who seemed to never tire of essentially playing the same part again and again.

There were, however, some memorable stand out roles for Whit Bissell. The other day I saw a solid but brief performance of his in the film, Brute Force (1949) starring Burt Lancaster. In this film, Whit Bissell played the part of one of Lancaster's cell-mates who was forced into taking his own life due to the cruel pressure placed on him by the sociopath prison guard captain.

Whit Bissell managed to leave behind a legacy that included some 300 film and television appearances. In 1994, he received a Life Career Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for his work with those genres.

Whit Bissell in Creature from the Black Lagoon

©Chris  Christopoulos 2015

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