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George Tobias
George Tobias 1942.jpg
Tobias in 1942
Born(1901-07-14)July 14, 1901
DiedFebruary 27, 1980(1980-02-27) (aged 78)
Resting placeMount Carmel Cemetery, Glendale, Queens, New York City
Years active1923–1977

George Tobias (July 14, 1901 – February 27, 1980) was an American theater, film and television actor. He had character parts and supporting roles in several major films of Hollywood's Golden Age. He is also known for his role as Abner Kravitz on the TV sitcom Bewitched from 1964 to 1971.

Early life

Born in New York on July 14, 1901, Tobias was the younger of two sons born to Russian-Jewish immigrants Samuel and Esther—aka Nettie—Tobias, both of whom were active in the Yiddish theatre, as was his older brother Benjamin.[1][2][3] Far removed fom the stereotypical stage parent, both Mr. and Mrs. Tobias did their utmost to discourage the acting bug in their youngest:

[T]hey made up their minds very definitely that I was not going to spend my life nearly starving as they did. They wanted me to be a doctor or lawyer, but I knew from a very early age that I would follow the same career as my mother, father and brother[...] So whenever I got an acting job in between my other jobs, I had to keep it secret from my family.[3]


Tobias began acting at age 15, at New York's Neighborhood Playhouse.[4] He appeared in Eugene O'Neill's The Hairy Ape in 1922,[5] and in Charles Méré's La Flamme and Channing Pollock's The Fool the following year,[6][7] before making his Broadway debut in Maxwell Anderson's What Price Glory? in 1924.[3]

In 1939, he signed with Warner Bros.[4] and was cast in supporting roles, many times along with James Cagney, in such movies as Cagney's Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), as well as with Gary Cooper in Sergeant York (1941) and Irving Berlin, Ronald Reagan, and George Murphy in This Is the Army (1943). In 1950, he was cast against type as a ruthless killer and felon in the film noir Southside 1-1000.

Tobias (right) with James Cagney (left) in Warner Bros. 1941 film The Strawberry Blonde.
Tobias (right) with James Cagney (left) in Warner Bros. 1941 film The Strawberry Blonde.

Tobias portrayed Penrose in eight episodes of the ABC program Adventures in Paradise (1959–1961).[4] From 1964 to 1971, he played Abner Kravitz, the long-suffering neighbor on the ABC sitcom Bewitched.[8] Tobias often appeared in an uncredited role as a courtroom spectator on the CBS program Perry Mason, and he played Sidney Falconer in the episode titled "The Case of the Antic Angel" (1964).

In 1972-1973, Tobias appeared in three episodes of The Waltons as junkman Vernon Rutley.

Tobias never married and retired from acting in 1977 after reprising his role as Abner Kravitz in a guest appearance on the Bewitched sequel Tabitha.

Personal life

A Democrat, he supported Adlai Stevenson during the 1952 presidential election.[9]

On February 27, 1980, Tobias died of Bladder cancer at the age of 78 at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.[10] He is buried in Mount Carmel Cemetery, Glendale, Queens, New York City.[citation needed]



Broadway productions:[11]

Complete filmography


  1. ^ "United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 24 June 2017), New York > New York > Manhattan Ward 17 > ED 901 > image 41 of 48; citing NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  2. ^ "United States Census, 1920", database with images, FamilySearch ( : 2 February 2021), George Tobias in entry for Samuel Tobias, 1920.
  3. ^ a b c Irwin, Virginia (September 20, 1940). "The One-Man International Movie Settlement". St. Louis Post Dispatch. p. 37. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  4. ^ a b c Gordon, Dr Roger L. (2018). Supporting Actors in Motion Pictures. Dorrance Publishing. p. 78. ISBN 9781480944992. Retrieved August 10, 2018.
  5. ^ Patterson, James (April 16, 1922). "New Plays: The Hairy Ape". The Billboard. p. 19. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  6. ^ Whyte, Gordon (February 17, 1923). "La Flamme". The Billboard. p. 111. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  7. ^ "Four 'Fool' Companies". The Billboard. August 18, 1923. p. 6. Retrieved January 11, 2022.
  8. ^ Terrace, Vincent (2011). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers. pp. 96–97. ISBN 978-0-7864-6477-7.
  9. ^ Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
  10. ^ "Actor George Tobias Dies". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Missouri, St. Louis. Associated Press. February 28, 1980. p. 45. Retrieved August 10, 2018 – via open access
  11. ^ "George Tobias". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on August 11, 2018. Retrieved August 11, 2018.