Walter Abel
Walter Abel in 13 Rue Madeleine trailer.jpg
Abel in the trailer for 13 Rue Madeleine (1947)
Born(1898-06-06)June 6, 1898
DiedMarch 26, 1987(1987-03-26) (aged 88)
Years active1918–1984
Marietta Bitter
(m. 1926; died 1979)

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


Abel was born in St. Paul, Minnesota,[1] the son of Christine (née Becker) and Richard Michael Abel.[citation needed] Abel graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where he had studied in 1917[2] 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.[2]


Walter Abel as D'Artagnan, with Heather Angel in The Three Musketeers
Walter Abel as D'Artagnan, with Heather Angel in The Three Musketeers

Abel made his film debut in 1918 with a small part in Out of a Clear Sky.[3]

He made his Broadway debut in Forbidden in 1919.[4] 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.[3] 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.[3] Abel went on to play in more than sixty films. Abel was a vice president of the Screen Actors' Guild.[5] Abel played hyperactive agent Danny Reed in the 1942 musical comedy Holiday Inn, in support of Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

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.[5]


Abel died March 26, 1987, of a myocardial infarction at a nursing home in Essex, Connecticut.[2] 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.[6]



Year Title Role Notes
1918 Out of a Clear Sky Uncredited
1920 The North Wind's Malice Tom
1930 Liliom Carpenter
1935 The Three Musketeers d'Artagnan
1936 Two in the Dark Ford Adams
The Lady Consents Stanley Ashton
The Witness Chair James 'Jim' Trent
Fury District Attorney
We Went to College Phil Talbot
Second Wife Kenneth Carpenter Sr.
1937 Green Light John Stafford
Portia on Trial Dan Foster
Wise Girl Karl
1938 Law of the Underworld Warren Rogers
Racket Busters Hugh Allison
Men with Wings Nick Ranson
1939 King of the Turf Robert Barnes
First Offenders Gregory Stone
Miracle on Main Street Jim Foreman
1940 Dance, Girl, Dance Judge
Arise, My Love Phillips
Who Killed Aunt Maggie? Dr. George Benedict
Michael Shayne: Private Detective Elliott Thomas
1941 Hold Back the Dawn Inspector Hammock
Skylark George Gorell
Glamour Boy Anthony J. Colder
1942 Beyond the Blue Horizon Prof. Thornton
Holiday Inn Danny Reed
Wake Island Cmdr. Roberts
Star Spangled Rhythm B.G. DeSoto
1943 Fired Wife Chris McClelland
The Last Will and Testament of Tom Smith Jack / A Flyer / Opening Narrator Short Film
So Proudly We Hail! Chaplain
1944 Follow the Boys Walter Abel Uncredited
The Hitler Gang Narrator (voice)
Mr. Skeffington George Trellis
An American Romance Howard Clinton
1945 The Affairs of Susan Richard Aiken
Duffy's Tavern Director
Kiss and Tell Harry Archer
1946 The Kid from Brooklyn Gabby Sloan
13 Rue Madeleine Charles Gibson
1947 Variety Girl Walter Abel Uncredited
The Fabulous Joe Milo Terkel
1948 Dream Girl George Allerton
That Lady in Ermine Major Horvath / Benvenuto
Picture in Your Mind Narrator Short Film
Neighbor to the North The American Short Film
1953 So This Is Love Colonel James Moore
Island in the Sky Col. Fuller
1954 Night People Maj. R.A. Foster, MD
1955 The Indian Fighter Captain Trask
1956 The Steel Jungle Warden Bill Keller
1957 Bernardine Mr. Beaumont
Raintree County T.D. Shawnessy
1958 Handle with Care Prof. Roger Bowden
1964 Quick, Let's Get Married The Thief
1965 Mirage Charles Stewart Calvin
Israel: The Story of the Jewish People Narrator Short Film; uncredited
1972 Silent Night, Bloody Night Mayor Adams
1979 Israel: The Story of the Jewish People Narrator Short Film; credited as Walter Able
1984 Grace Quigley Homer Morrison Final role


Year Title Role Notes
1948 Critic at Large Self Episode: "Episode #1.16"
1948–1949 The Philco Television Playhouse Macduff 2 episodes
1949 The Chevrolet Tele-Theatre Sir Wilfred Roberts Episode: "Witness for the Prosecution"
1950 Masterpiece Playhouse George Tesman 2 episodes
1950–1951 The Prudential Family Playhouse Egbert Flound / Sam Dodsworth 2 episodes
1950–1953 Lux Video Theatre Father / Joe Holmby 2 episodes
1951 Faith Baldwin Romance Theatre Episode: "To My Beloved Wife"
The Colgate Comedy Hour Self Guest
Who Said That? Self Episode: "March 12, 1951"
The Sam Levenson Show Self Episode: "Walter Abel and Son"
The Ed Sullivan Show Self Episode: "Episode #4.39"
20 Questions Self Episode: "Walter Abel"
1951–1952 Robert Montgomery Presents Father / Harry Archer 2 episodes
Tales of Tomorrow Doctor Allen 4 episodes
1952 Celanese Theatre Reed Episode: "Yellow Jack"
It's News to Me Self Episode: "Walter Abel, Signe Hasso"
1953 The Ford Television Theatre Episode: "There's No Place Like Home"
1954 Ethel and Albert Gilbert Episode: "The Income Tax"
Studio One Juror #4 Episode: "Twelve Angry Men"
Armstrong Circle Theatre Episode: "The Judged"
The Red Buttons Show Episode: "November 12, 1954"
1955 Playwrights '56 Dr. Harmon Episode: "The Answer"
The Martha Raye Show Self Episode: "Stubby Kaye, Johnnie Ray, Walter Abel"
1956 Climax! Stewart Episode: "The Midas Touch"
The Joseph Cotten Show: On Trial Episode: "The Person and Property of Margery Hay"
1956–1958 Playhouse 90 Mr. Wayde 2 episodes
1957 The 20th Century Fox Hour McKinley Episode: "The Great American Hoax"
Kraft Television Theatre Episode: "Heroes Walk on Sand"
1958 Suspicion Major Harvey Denbrow Episode: "Meeting in Paris"
1960 The Play of the Week Inspector Episode: "The Enchanted"
1963 The Defenders Ben Burke Episode: "A Book for Burning"
The Farmer's Daughter General Todd Episode: "An Enterprising Young Man"
1964 East Side West Side Brewer Bradford Episode: "Here Today"
1965 The Mike Douglas Show Self Episode: "Episode #4.196"
1966 Seaway Goddard Borglun Episode: "The Viking"
Bob Hope Presents the Chrysler Theatre Reynard Pitney Episode: "And Baby Makes Five"
1971 NBC Children's Theatre Self Episode: "Super Plastic Elastic Goggles"
1973 The Man Without a Country Col. A.B. Morgan Direct-to-TV Movie
1976 The American Woman: Portraits of Courage Judge Direct-to-TV Documentary

Radio appearances

Year Program Episode/source
1941 Gulf Screen Guild Theatre No Time for Comedy[7]
1944 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre Phantom Lady[7]
1945 Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre Double Indemnity[7]
1947 Theatre Guild on the Air No Time for Comedy[7]
Suspense Quiet Desperation[7]
1952 Theatre Guild on the Air The Bishop Misbehaves[7]


  1. ^ Liebman, Roy (2017). Broadway Actors in Films, 1894-2015. McFarland. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-4766-2615-4. Retrieved February 25, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Gerard, Jeremy (March 28, 1987). "Walter Abel, 88, Actor in Theater and Films". New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  3. ^ a b c "Walter Abel", Turner Classic Movies
  4. ^ "Veteran Stage, Screen Actor Walter Abel Dies at 88". Los Angeles Times. March 29, 1987. Retrieved May 28, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Walter Abel papers, 1900-1976, 1916-1975", the Billy Rose Theatre Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
  6. ^ Wilson, Scott (August 19, 2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 6. ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7. Retrieved January 15, 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Abel, Walter". radioGOLDINdex. Retrieved May 26, 2015.