David Warbeck

David Warbeck (born David Mitchell; 17 November 1941 – 23 July 1997) was a New Zealand actor and model best known for his roles in European exploitation and horror films.[1]

David Warbeck
David Warbeck.jpg
Warbeck in UFO (1970)
David Mitchell

(1941-11-17)17 November 1941
Christchurch, New Zealand
Died23 July 1997(1997-07-23) (aged 55)
London, England
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
OccupationActor, model
Lois Mitchell
(m. 1965)

A native of Christchurch, New Zealand, Warbeck became involved in local theatre there, which led to him receiving a scholarship to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London in 1965. After attending for four terms, Warbeck dropped out and began working as a model. He made his feature film debut in John Hough's Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood (1969), reuniting with the director again for 1971's Twins of Evil. Throughout the 1970s, Warbeck appeared in numerous international exploitation films, including A Fistful of Dynamite (1971) and Black Snake (1974), which established him as a niche action film star.[2]

In 1981, Warbeck starred in two films for Italian horror director Lucio Fulci: The Black Cat and The Beyond. He went on to appear in several independent and exploitation films throughout the 1980s and 1990s before dying of cancer in London in July 1997, aged 55.

Early lifeEdit

Warbeck was born David Mitchell on 17 November 1941 in Christchurch, New Zealand.[1] He was of Scottish descent.[1] Warbeck attended school in Christchurch and Invercargill.[1] After graduating, Warbeck began training to become an arts teacher.[1] Through this, he became involved with local theatre productions, and performed with a small touring company in New Zealand.[1] While performing in local theatre, Warbeck was awarded a scholarship from the New Zealand Arts Council to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London.[1]


Early workEdit

Warbeck arrived in Britain in 1965 to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and attended four terms before dropping out and becoming a photographic model.[1] He made his film debut as the title character in Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood (1969), a low-budget film adaptation of the adventures of Robin Hood directed by John Hough.[3] He then appeared in an episode of UFO called "Destruction" in 1970.[4]

Warbeck next landed a small but important role in Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dynamite (1971).[1] This would be his first foray into Italian cinema, which he would make his home within a few years. He reunited with director Hough appearing in the vampire film Twins of Evil (1971), followed by a minor role in Freddie Francis's exploitation film Craze (1974). Warbeck was then cast in American filmmaker Russ Meyer's cult film Black Snake (1973), in which he portrayed a man in the 1800s searching for his brother on a Caribbean island overseen by a vicious woman who owns a slave plantation.[5] He also had the title role in the British sex comedy The Sex Thief (1973), which was directed by a young Martin Campbell.[6]

Italian filmsEdit

Warbeck is perhaps best known for his violent horror film roles in the 1980s. One of the most noted of these is Lucio Fulci's The Beyond (1981), in which he portrayed a doctor who helps a woman uncover the mystery behind a Louisiana hotel she has inherited.[7] The same year, he was cast in a supporting part as an inspector in Fulci's The Black Cat (1981), based on the story by Edgar Allan Poe.[8]

Warbeck's most common work during the 1980s was with director Antonio Margheriti. The exploitation film director produced a series of films which played on the success of mainstream releases such as Raiders of the Lost Ark and The Deer Hunter. Margheriti was best known for his action films, and some of his noted efforts featuring Warbeck were the Vietnam war film The Last Hunter (1980), Hunters of the Golden Cobra (1982) and The Ark of the Sun God (1983).[9] The film was partly filmed and produced in Turkey.

Later workEdit

Thanks to his appearances in several high-profile action and horror films, Warbeck was being seriously considered as the next James Bond,[1][3] but the role was taken by Roger Moore. Warbeck claimed that for many years he was paid an amount to be a substitute or back-up Bond on the conditions that he not tell anyone and that he be ready for filming at a moment's notice in the case of Moore leaving or threatening to leave the role. One day he read about Timothy Dalton being chosen and was told by the producers that he was now "too old for the role".[10]

Apart from a brief role as an ill-fated agent in the Tom Selleck film Lassiter (1984),[6] Warbeck's later career consisted of several low-budget films including Ratman (1988), Mean Tricks (1992) directed by Umberto Lenzi, Pervirella (1997), Sudden Fury (1997), and Jake West's British vampire film Razor Blade Smile (1998). He also concentrated on fan conventions in the UK and U.S., where he was popular due to his work with Fulci.[1]

Personal lifeEdit

Warbeck spent his later life living in Hampstead, London, with his wife Lois, whom he married in 1965.[1] The couple had one daughter.[1] He spent two decades restoring his residence there, which had been built by Sir George Gilbert Scott at the time of the construction of St Pancras Station.[1]


In 1997, three weeks before his death, Warbeck recorded an audio commentary for the laserdisc release of The Beyond with actress Catriona MacColl. Warbeck died of an unspecified form of cancer in London, England on 23 July 1997.[2]



Year Title Role Notes Ref.
1969 Wolfshead: The Legend of Robin Hood Robert of Locksley
1970 My Lover, My Son Kenworthy
1970 Trog Alan Davis
1971 Journey to Murder Chris (Do Me a Favor and Kill Me)
1971 Twins of Evil Anton Hoffer
1971 A Fistful of Dynamite Nolan, John's Friend
1973 Black Snake Sir Charles Walker / Ronald Sopwith
1974 The Sex Thief Grant Henry
1974 Craze Detective Wilson
1975 Cry, Onion! Villain with Sunglasses Uncredited
1976 Il comune senso del pudore L'amante di Lady Chatterley
1980 The Last Hunter Henry
1981 The Black Cat Inspector Gorley
1981 The Beyond Dr. John McCabe
1982 Tiger Joe Tiger Joe
1982 Hunters of the Golden Cobra Bob Jackson
1982 Panic Captain Kirk
1984 Lassiter Muller
1984 The Ark of the Sun God Rick Spear
1985 Miami Golem Craig Milford
1985 Formula for a Murder Craig
1988 Ratman Fred Williams
1988 Domino Blind
1990 Il ragazzo delle mani d'acciaio John Foster English title: Karate Rock
1991 Arizona Road FBI Agent
1992 Mean Tricks Frank Mendoza
1993 Attrazione pericolosa Lanfranco De Molinis
1993 Breakfast with Dracula Italian: Un vampiro a Miami
1996 Fatal Frames Commissioner Bonelli
1996 Sick-o-pathics Dr. Loonies Segment: "Aeropophagus"
1997 Pervirella Amicus Reilly
1997 Sudden Fury Pike
1998 Razor Blade Smile The Horror Movie Man


Year Title Role Notes
1968 Journey to the Unknown Chris Episode: "Do Me a Favor and Kill Me"
1968 Treasure Island Abraham Grey 5 episodes
1969 The Borderers Sentry Episode: "Giant"
1969 The Elusive Pimpernel Joshua Clutterbuck Episode: "The Challenge"
1970 The Mating Machine Young Man Episode: "All About Little Eve"
1970–1971 UFO Skydiver Captain 2 episodes
1971 Armchair Theatre Nico Episode: "Will Amelia Quint Continue Writing 'A Gnome Called Shorthouse'?"
1973 Spy Trap Douglas Armstrong 3 episodes
1974 Thriller Robert Miller Episode: "Only a Scream Away"
1974 Marked Personal Dave Buckley 2 episodes
1974 Not On Your Nellie Fashion Photographer Episode: "The Apartment"
1974 Notorious Woman Stephane de Grandsagne Episode: "The Misalliance"
1984 Minder Roger Collins Episode: "Second Hand Pose"
1987 Treasure Island in Outer Space Dr. Livesey Miniseries
1992 Golden Kimono Warrior Lt. Alfred Jones 6 episodes


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Granger, Derek (28 August 1997). "Obituary: David Warbeck". The Independent. London.
  2. ^ a b "David Warbeck". Variety. 6 October 1997. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Featured Filmmaker: John Hough". IGN. 4 October 2002. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  4. ^ Bentley 2003, p. 84.
  5. ^ Frasier 1997, p. 147.
  6. ^ a b McFarlane 2016, p. 799.
  7. ^ Kay 2008, p. 114.
  8. ^ Arrigo, Anthony (13 April 2016). "Black Cat, The (Blu-ray)". Dread Central. Retrieved 13 September 2018.
  9. ^ "The Ark of the Sun God". The New York Times.
  10. ^ Slater, Jason L.; Fenton, Harvey (1996). David Warbeck – The Man and His Movies. Worldcat.org. Fab Press. OCLC 47800799.

Works citedEdit

  • Bentley, Chris (2003). The Complete Book of Gerry Anderson's UFO. Richmond, London: Reynolds & Hearn Ltd. ISBN 978-1-903-11165-9.
  • Frasier, David K. (1997). Russ Meyer—The Life and Films: A Biography and a Comprehensive, Illustrated and Annotated Filmography and Bibliography. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-786-48063-0.
  • Kay, Glenn (2008). Zombie Movies: The Ultimate Guide. Chicago: Chicago Review Press. ISBN 978-1-569-76683-5.
  • McFarlane, Brian, ed. (2016). The Encyclopedia of British Film (Fourth ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-1-526-11197-5.

External linksEdit