Martin Gabel
Martin Gabel as Danton in the Mercury Theatre stage production of Danton's Death (1938)
Born(1911-06-19)June 19, 1911
DiedMay 22, 1986(1986-05-22) (aged 74)
New York City, U.S.
  • Actor
  • director
  • producer
Years active1934–1980
(m. 1946)
ChildrenPeter Gabel
RelativesSeth Gabel (great-nephew)

Martin Gabel (June 19, 1911[1] – May 22, 1986) was an American actor, film director and film producer.

Life and career

Martin Gabel (fourth from right) played the role of Cassius in the Mercury Theatre production of Caesar (1937)

Gabel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Rebecca and Isaac Gabel, a jeweler, both Jewish immigrants.[1] He married Arlene Francis on May 14, 1946, and they had a son named Peter Gabel.[2]

One of Gabel's earliest noted roles was as Neil Williams, a newspaper reporter, on the radio serial comedy Easy Aces in the mid-to-late 1930s. Gabel's most noted work was as narrator and host of the May 8, 1945, CBS Radio broadcast of Norman Corwin's epic dramatic poem On a Note of Triumph, a commemoration of the fall of the Nazi regime in Germany and the end of World War II in Europe. The broadcast was so popular that the CBS, NBC, Blue and Mutual networks broadcast a second live production of the program on May 13. The Columbia Masterworks record label subsequently published an album of the May 13 production. The production became the title focus of the Academy Award-winning short film A Note of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin in 2005, the 60th anniversary year of the broadcast.[citation needed]

Gabel was first associated with Orson Welles when he played Javert in his six-part radio adaptation of Les Misérables (1937).[3][4]: 338  He became one of the original members of Welles's Mercury Theatre repertory company. On the stage Gabel portrayed Cassius in Caesar (1937), a critically acclaimed modern-dress adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy streamlined into an anti-fascist tour de force,[4]: 339  and starred as Danton in Danton's Death (1938).[3] On radio, he played Professor Van Helsing in "Dracula" (1938), the debut episode of The Mercury Theatre on the Air.[5]: 50 

In 1947, he directed his only film, The Lost Moment. Gabel appeared in few films over his career, usually in small roles. A notable large supporting part was as crime boss Tomas Rienzi in Richard Brooks's Deadline U.S.A. (1952), starring Humphrey Bogart. Gabel played another mob figure in a Frank Sinatra private-detective film, Lady in Cement (1968), then co-starred again with Sinatra in Contract on Cherry Street and The First Deadly Sin.

Gabel won the 1961 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor for the comedy Big Fish, Little Fish;[2] he was also noted for his performances in the Broadway productions of Baker Street, in which he played Professor Moriarty; The Rivalry, in which he played Stephen A. Douglas.[6]

Gabel played businessman Mr. Strutt in Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie (1964), and the psychiatrist in the Billy Wilder version of The Front Page (1974) with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. He was a frequent guest panelist on the popular CBS Television Sunday night game show What's My Line?, on which his wife, Arlene Francis, was a regular panelist.


Gabel died in New York City from a heart attack on May 22, 1986, aged 74.[2]

Selected theatre credits

Martin Gabel and Orson Welles in Caesar (1937)


Year Title Role Notes
1947 The Lost Moment Director
1947 Smash-Up, the Story of a Woman Associate producer
1951 Pictura: An Adventure in Art Co-Narrator Voice
1951 M Charlie Marshall, crime boss
1951 Fourteen Hours Dr. Strauss
1952 Deadline – U.S.A. Tomas Rienzi
1952 The Thief Mr. Bleek
1957 The James Dean Story Narrator
1957 Tip on a Dead Jockey Bert Smith
1961 The Crimebusters George Vincent
1961 The Power and the Glory Chief of police
1963 The Making of the President 1960 Narrator
1964 Marnie Sidney Strutt
1964 Goodbye Charlie Morton Craft
1966 Lord Love a Duck T. Harrison Belmont Uncredited
1967 Divorce American Style Dr. Zenwinn
1968 Lady in Cement Al Munger
1970 There Was a Crooked Man... Warden LeGoff
1974 The Front Page Dr. Max J. Eggelhofer
1980 The First Deadly Sin Christopher Langley (final film role)
Year Title Role Notes
1956–1967 What's My Line? Frequent guest panelist 114 episodes
1960 Thriller Mr Freitag 1 episode
1960 Have Gun – Will Travel Nathan Shotness 1 episode
1967 Tarzan Peter Maas 1 episode
1972 Harvey Judge Omar Gaffney TV movie
1974 Smile, Jenny, You're Dead Meade De Ruyter TV movie
1975 What’s My Line? Mystery Guest
1977 Contract on Cherry Street Baruch 'Bob' Waldman, Crime Boss TV movie


  1. ^ a b Sterling, Christopher H. (May 13, 2013). Biographical Dictionary of Radio. Routledge. pp. 150–151. ISBN 978-1-136-99376-3. Retrieved September 18, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c "Martin Gabel, Actor, Director and Producer, is dead at 73". The New York Times. May 23, 1986. Retrieved July 22, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "Danton's Death". Playbill. Retrieved September 5, 2015.
  4. ^ a b Welles, Orson; Bogdanovich, Peter; Rosenbaum, Jonathan (1992). This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 0-06-016616-9.
  5. ^ Orson Welles on the Air: The Radio Years. New York: The Museum of Broadcasting, catalogue for exhibition October 28–December 3, 1988.
  6. ^ Martin Gabel at the Internet Broadway Database