Whitner Nutting Bissell (October 25, 1909 – March 5, 1996) was an American character actor.
Whitner Nutting Bissell
October 25, 1909
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Died||March 5, 1996 (aged 86)|
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles|
|Alma mater||University of North Carolina|
(m. 1938; div. 1954)
Dilys Mary Shan Jukes
(m. 1954; died 1958)
(m. 1967; died 1993)
Born in New York City, Bissell was the son of surgeon Dr. J. Dougal Bissell and Helen Nutting Bissell. He was educated at the Allen-Stevenson School and the Dalton School in New York City. He was related to Daniel Bissell, who was awarded a Purple Heart by George Washington.
In a film career that began with Holy Matrimony (1943), Bissell appeared in hundreds of films and television episodes as a prominent character actor. Regularly cast in low-budget science fiction and horror films, his roles include a mad scientist in the film I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) and Professor Frankenstein in I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (also 1957).
He played the attending psychiatrist who treats the protagonist, Dr. Miles Bennell, played by Kevin McCarthy, in Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) and appeared in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954).
Bissell appeared as a guest star in many television drama series between the early 1950s and the mid-1970s, with more sporadic appearances after that. He guest-starred in a couple of episodes of The Lone Ranger. He appeared on other syndicated series, including Sheriff of Cochise, Whirlybirds, Peyton Place and The Brothers Brannagan. He was cast in the religion series Crossroads and Going My Way, and in the NBC education drama series Mr. Novak.
Bissell played murderer Larry Sands on CBS's Perry Mason ("The Case of the Crooked Candle", 1957). He made three other Perry Mason appearances, including the role of Max Pompey in "The Case of the Lavender Lipstick" (1960), Laurence Barlow in "The Case of the Nautical Knot" (1964) and Dennison Groody in "The Case of the Carefree Coronary" (1965). He appeared in an episode of Peter Gunn. (1958) He played different roles in multiple episodes of the ABC series The Rifleman.
From 1959-61, Bissell was a regular for the third and fourth seasons of the television series Bachelor Father, costarring John Forsythe, Noreen Corcoran, and Sammee Tong. He was cast three times on the long-running NBC western series The Virginian.
Bissell's most prominent television role came when he played as General Heywood Kirk in 30 episodes in the 1966–1967 season of the science-fiction television series The Time Tunnel. He often played silver-haired figures of authority, here as in many other roles (as described by AllMovie), "instantly establishing his standard screen characterization of fussy officiousness", leavened in many instances with a military bearing. Other examples of such authoritative roles as military or police officials, include appearances in The Caine Mutiny, The Manchurian Candidate, The Outer Limits (1963), Hogan's Heroes (1966), and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1966). Bissell also appeared in Barnaby Jones; episode titled "Murder in the Doll's House" (03/25/1973).
In 1978 and 1980, Bissell appeared in episodes of The Incredible Hulk, first in the second-season episode "Kindred Spirits", and next (and lastly) in the second part of the fourth season two-parter "Prometheus". He played a different professor in both episodes.
Bissell portrayed the undertaker (who sees every man, no matter his race, as "just another future customer") in the film The Magnificent Seven (1960).
In 1960, Bissell had appeared in George Pal's production of The Time Machine, as Walter Kemp, one of the Time Traveller's dining friends. He also appeared in a 1978 TV movie adapting the H. G. Wells novel for a more modern setting. Bissell's Time Tunnel co-star, John Zaremba, also appeared in the telemovie. Thirty-three years later, in 1993 the documentary film Time Machine: The Journey Back (which featured Bissell, Rod Taylor and Alan Young), Bissell recreated his 1960 role as Walter in the opening sequence. It was Bissell's last acting performance.
Bissell received a life career award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films in 1994. He also served for many years on the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild, and represented the actors' branch of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences board of governors.
Bissell was married three times and had three daughters (Kathy Marden, Victoria Brown and Amanda Whiteley) and a stepson, Brian Forster. Forster was the second actor to play the role of Chris Partridge on The Partridge Family TV series.
Wives: Adrienne Marden (23 November 1938 – 1954) (divorced), two children. Dilys Mary Shan Jukes (5 December 1954 – 11 January 1958) (her death), one child. Jennifer Raine (24 November 1967 – 5 January 1993) (her death).
Bissell died in 1996 at the Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital in Woodland Hills, California from the effects of Parkinson's disease. He was interred in the Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.
- The Sea Hawk (1940) as Gate Guard at Palace Entrance (uncredited)
- Holy Matrimony (1943) as Harry Leek (uncredited)
- Destination Tokyo (1943) as Yo Yo (uncredited)
- Winged Victory (1944) as Lt. Hudson (uncredited)
- The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) as Heavenly Piccolo Player (uncredited)
- Cluny Brown (1946) as Archie, Dowager's Son (uncredited)
- Somewhere in the Night (1946) as John (uncredited)
- It Shouldn't Happen to a Dog (1946) as Chester Frye (uncredited)
- The Sea of Grass (1947) as Ted, the Clerk (uncredited)
- Brute Force (1947) as Tom Lister
- Night Song (1947) as Party Guest (uncredited)
- A Double Life (1947) as Dr. Stauffer
- The Senator Was Indiscreet (1947) as Oakes
- Another Part of the Forest (1948) as Jugger
- Raw Deal (1948) as Murderer
- Canon City (1948) as Richard Heilman
- That Lady in Ermine (1948) as Giulio
- He Walked by Night (1948) as Paul Reeves
- Chicken Every Sunday (1949) as Mr. Robinson / Robby
- The Crime Doctor's Diary (1949) as Pete Bellem
- Anna Lucasta (1949) as Stanley
- Tokyo Joe (1949) as Capt. Winnow (uncredited)
- And Baby Makes Three (1949) as Party Guest (uncredited)
- Side Street (1949) as Harold Simpson
- When Willie Comes Marching Home (1950) as Lt. M.J. Hanley — Psychiatrist (uncredited)
- Perfect Strangers (1950) as Mr. Lister — Defense Attorney (uncredited)
- Convicted (1950) as States Attorney Owens (uncredited)
- A Life of Her Own (1950) as Rental Agent (uncredited)
- Wyoming Mail (1950) as Sam
- The Killer That Stalked New York (1950) as Sid Bennet
- The Du Pont Story (1950) as Dr. Wallace Carothers
- For Heaven's Sake (1950) as Doctor (uncredited)
- The Great Missouri Raid (1951) as Bob Ford
- The Red Badge of Courage (1951) as Wounded Officer (uncredited)
- Tales of Robin Hood (1951) as Will Stutely
- Sealed Cargo (1951) as Schuster (uncredited)
- Night into Morning (1951) as Monument Salesman (uncredited)
- Lost Continent (1951) as Stanley Briggs
- The Family Secret (1951) as Joe Elsner
- Red Mountain (1951) as Miles
- Boots Malone (1952) as Lou Dyer (uncredited)
- Hoodlum Empire (1952) as Filby — The Pickpocket (uncredited)
- Skirts Ahoy! (1952) as Mr. Yarbrough (uncredited)
- The Sellout (1952) as Wilfred Jackson
- The Turning Point (1952) as Buck (uncredited)
- Devil's Canyon (1953) as Virgil Gates
- It Should Happen to You (1954) as Robert Grau
- Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) as Dr. Edwin Thompson
- Riot in Cell Block 11 (1954) as Snader
- The Shanghai Story (1954) as Paul Grant
- The Caine Mutiny (1954) as Navy psychiatrist Lt. Commander Dickson (uncredited)
- Three Hours to Kill (1954) as Deke
- Target Earth (1954) as Tom, Chief research scientist
- Masterson of Kansas (1954) as Joe the Poker Player winning against Doc Holliday (uncredited)
- The Atomic Kid (1954) as Dr. Edgar Pangborn
- The Big Combo (1955) as Doctor (scenes deleted)
- Not as a Stranger (1955) as Dr. Dietrich
- The Naked Street (1955) as Dist. Atty. Blaker
- The Desperate Hours (1955) as FBI Agent Carson
- Trial (1955) as Sam Wiltse
- Shack Out on 101 (1955) as Eddie
- At Gunpoint (1955) as Clem Clark
- Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) as Dr. Hill (uncredited)
- The Proud Ones (1956) as Mr. Sam Bolton
- Dakota Incident (1956) as Mark Chester
- Man from Del Rio (1956) as Breezy Morgan
- Cheyenne The Broken Pledge — Season 2, Episode 20 (06/04/1956) as Gen. Custer (credited as Whit Bissel)
- The Young Stranger (1957) as Grubbs, Theater Manager
- Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957) as John P. Clum
- I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) as Dr. Alfred Brandon
- Johnny Tremain (1957) as Josiah Quincy
- The Wayward Girl (1957) as Ira Molson
- The Tall Stranger (1957) as Adam Judson
- I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957) as Prof. Frankenstein
- Gang War (1958) as Mark (scenes deleted)
- The Defiant Ones (1958) as Lou Gans
- The Black Orchid (1958) as Mr. Harmon
- Monster on the Campus (1958) as Dr. Oliver Cole
- No Name on the Bullet (1959) as Pierce
- Warlock (1959) as Petrix
- Never So Few (1959) as Capt. Alofson — Psychiatrist
- The Time Machine (1960) as Walter Kemp
- The Magnificent Seven (1960) as Chamlee the Undertaker
- Birdman of Alcatraz (1962) as Dr. Ellis
- Hemingway's Adventures of a Young Man (1962) as Ludstrum (scenes deleted)
- The Manchurian Candidate (1962) as Medical Officer (uncredited)
- The Virginian (1963 episode "The Final Hour") as Burns
- Spencer's Mountain (1963) as Dr. Campbell
- Hud (1963) as Mr. Burris
- Seven Days in May (1964) as Sen. Frederick Prentice
- Advance to the Rear (1964) as Capt. Queeg
- Where Love Has Gone (1964) as Professor Bell
- The Hallelujah Trail (1965) as Hobbs
- Fluffy (1965) as Dr. Braden
- A Covenant with Death (1967) as Bruce Donnelly
- 5 Card Stud (1968) as Dr. Cooper
- Once You Kiss a Stranger (1969) as Dr. Haggis
- Airport (1970) as Mr. Davidson
- Justin Morgan Had a Horse (1972) as Mr. Mays
- The Salzburg Connection (1972) as Jim Newhart
- Pete 'n' Tillie (1972) as Minister
- Soylent Green (1973) as Gov. Santini
- Psychic Killer (1975) as Dr. Paul Taylor
- Flood! (1976) as Dr. Ted Horne
- The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977) as Sen. John Conness
- The Last of the Mohicans (1977, TV Movie) as Gen. Webb
- Casey's Shadow (1978) as Dr. Williamson
- The Time Machine (1978, TV Movie) as Ralph Branly
- Goldrup, Tom and Jim (2012). The Encyclopedia of Feature Players of Hollywood, Volume 1. BearManor Media. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- "Bissell Writing Story". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. November 9, 1947. p. Part III - 3. Retrieved October 5, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
- "Whitner Bissell". Internet Broadway Database. The Broadway League. Archived from the original on 6 October 2018. Retrieved 6 October 2018.
- "Whit Bissell, Stage and Screen Actor, 86". The New York Times. March 11, 1996. Retrieved August 9, 2017.
- "An Interview with Brian Forster" at CmonGetHappy.com
- Oliver, Myrna (March 7, 1996). "Whit Bissell; Movie, TV Character Actor". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. p. A 18. Retrieved October 5, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.