Whit Bissell - Rotten Tomatoes

Whit Bissell

Highest Rated:   100% Seven Days in May (1964)
Birthday:  
Birthplace:   New York, New York, USA
Whit Bissell was a familiar face to younger baby boomers as an actor mostly associated with fussy official roles -- but those parts merely scratched the surface of a much larger and longer career. Born Whitner Nutting Bissell in New York City in 1909, he attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was an alumnus of that institution's Carolina Playmakers company. He made his movie debut with an uncredited role in the 1940 Errol Flynn swashbuckler The Sea Hawk and then wasn't seen on screen again for three years. Starting in 1943, Bissell appeared in small roles in a short string of mostly war-related Warner Bros. productions, including Destination Tokyo. It wasn't until after the war, however, that he began getting more visible in slightly bigger parts. He had a tiny role in the opening third of Ernst Lubitsch's comedy Cluny Brown (1946), but starting in 1947, Bissell became much more closely associated with film noir and related dark, psychologically-focused crime films. Directors picked up on his ability to portray neurotic instability and weaselly dishonesty -- anticipating the kinds of roles in which Ray Walston would specialize for a time -- and used him in pictures such as Brute Force, He Walked by Night, and The Killer That Stalked New York. His oddest and most visible portrayal during this period was in The Crime Doctor's Diary (1949), in which he had a scene-stealing turn as a mentally unhinged would-be composer at the center of a murder case. By the early 1950s, however, in addition to playing fidgety clerks, nervous henchmen, and neurotic suspects (and friends and relatives of suspects), he added significantly to his range of portrayals with his deeply resonant voice, which could convincingly convey authority. Bissell began turning up as doctors, scientists, and other figures whose outward demeanor commanded respect -- mainstream adult audiences probably remember him best for his portrayal of the navy psychiatrist in The Caine Mutiny, while teenagers in the mid-1950s may have known him best for the scientists and psychiatrists that he played in Target Earth and Invasion of the Body Snatchers. But it was in two low-budget films that all of Bissell's attributes were drawn together in a pair of decidedly villainous roles, as the mad scientists at the center of I Was a Teenage Werewolf and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein. The latter, in particular, gave him a chance to read some very "ripe" lines with a straight face, most memorably, "Answer me! I know you have a civil tongue in your mouth -- I sewed it there myself!" But Bissell was never a one-note actor. During this same period, he was showing off far more range in as many as a dozen movies and television shows each year. Among the more notable were Shack Out on 101, in which he gave a sensitive portrayal of a shell-shocked veteran trying to deal with his problems in the midst of a nest of Soviet spies; "The Man With Many Faces" on the series Code 3, in which he was superb as a meek accountant who is pushed into the life of a felon by an ongoing family tragedy; and, finally, in "The Great Guy" on Father Knows Best, where he successfully played a gruff, taciturn employer who never broke his tough demeanor for a moment, yet still convincingly delivered a final line that could bring tears to the eyes of an audience. By the end of the 1950s, Bissell was working far more in television than in movies. During the early 1960s, he was kept busy in every genre, most notably Westerns -- he showed up on The Rifleman and other oaters with amazing frequency. During the mid-1960s, however, he was snatched up by producer Irwin Allen, who cast Bissell in his one costarring role: as General Kirk, the head of the government time-travel program Project Tic-Toc on the science-fiction/adventure series Time Tunnel. He also showed up on Star Trek and in other science-fiction series of the period and continued working in dozens of small roles well into the mid-1

Highest Rated Movies

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT BOX OFFICE YEAR
89% Somewhere in the Night
  • Bartender
2003
No Score Yet Time Machine
  • Actor
1978
75% Casey's Shadow
  • Dr. Williamson
1978
No Score Yet Donner Pass: The Road to Survival
  • Uncle Billy Graves
1978
No Score Yet Last of the Mohicans
  • Webb
1977
No Score Yet The Incredible Rocky Mountain Race
  • Actor
1977
No Score Yet Flood!
  • Dr. Ted Horne
1976
No Score Yet Psychic Killer
  • Dr. Taylor
1975
71% Soylent Green
  • Santini
1973
80% Pete 'n' Tillie
  • Minister
1972
No Score Yet The Salzburg Connection
  • Newhart
1972
No Score Yet City Beneath the Sea
  • Actor
1971
80% Airport
  • Mr. Davidson
1970
No Score Yet Once You Kiss a Stranger
  • Dr. Haggis
1969
No Score Yet 5 Card Stud
  • Dr. Cooper
1968
No Score Yet A Covenant with Death
  • Bruce Donnelly
1966
No Score Yet The Hallelujah Trail
  • Hobbs
1965
No Score Yet Where Love Has Gone
  • Prof. Bell
1964
No Score Yet Advance to the Rear
  • Capt. Queeg
1964
100% Seven Days in May
  • Sen. Prentice
1964
84% Hud
  • Burris
1963
No Score Yet Spencer's Mountain
  • Dr. Campbell
1963
98% The Manchurian Candidate
  • Medical Officer
1962
No Score Yet Heningway's Adventures of a Young Man
  • Ludstrum
1962
82% Birdman of Alcatraz
  • Dr. Ellis
1962
77% The Time Machine
  • Walter Kemp
1960
No Score Yet Never So Few
  • Capt. Alofson
1960
90% The Magnificent Seven
  • Chamlee
1960
No Score Yet Warlock
  • Mr. Petrix
1959
No Score Yet No Name on the Bullet
  • Thad Pierce
1959
No Score Yet Monster on the Campus
  • Dr. Oliver Cole
1958
81% The Defiant Ones
  • Lou Gans
1958
20% The Black Orchid
  • Mr. Harmon
1958
No Score Yet Destination Nightmare
  • Actor
1958
No Score Yet The Tall Stranger
  • Adam Judson
1957
40% I Was a Teenage Werewolf
  • Dr. Alfred Brandon
1957
No Score Yet Johnny Tremain
  • Josiah Quincy
1957
38% The Amazing Colossal Man
  • Capt. Queeg
1957
82% Gunfight at the O.K. Corral
  • John P. Clum
1957
30% I Was a Teenage Frankenstein
  • Prof. Frankenstein
1957
No Score Yet Man from Del Rio
  • Breezy Morgan
1956
No Score Yet Dakota Incident
  • Mark Chester
1956
No Score Yet The Proud Ones
  • Mr. Bolton
1956
98% Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • Dr. Hall
1956
No Score Yet At Gunpoint (Gunpoint!)
  • Clark
1955
No Score Yet Shack Out on 101
  • Eddie
1955
No Score Yet Trial
  • Sam Wiltse
1955
No Score Yet The Naked Street (The Brass Ring)
  • Attorney Blaker
1955
0% Not as a Stranger (Morton Thompson's Not as a Stranger)
  • Dr. Dietrich
1955
92% The Big Combo
  • Doctor
1955
83% The Desperate Hours
  • Carson
1955
No Score Yet Hour of Stars
  • Dr. Pierce
1955
No Score Yet Target Earth
  • Scientist
1954
No Score Yet Three Hours to Kill
  • Deke
1954
92% The Caine Mutiny
  • Lt. Cmdr. Dickson
1954
84% Creature from the Black Lagoon
  • Edwin Thompson
1954
100% Riot in Cell Block 11
  • Snader
1954
100% It Should Happen to You
  • Robert Grau
1954
No Score Yet Atomic Kid
  • Dr. Edgar Pangborn
1954
No Score Yet Devil's Canyon
  • Virgil
1953
No Score Yet The Turning Point
  • Buck
1952
No Score Yet Skirts Ahoy!
  • Mr. Yarbrough
1952
No Score Yet The Sellout
  • Wilfred Jackson
1952
No Score Yet Hoodlum Empire
  • Filby
1952
No Score Yet Red Mountain
  • Miles
1951
No Score Yet Lost Continent
  • Stanley Briggs
1951
No Score Yet Night Into Morning (People in Love)
  • Stone Yard Proprietor
1951
No Score Yet Sealed Cargo
  • Schuster
1951
90% The Red Badge of Courage
  • Wounded Officer
1951
No Score Yet The Great Missouri Raid
  • Bob Ford
1951
No Score Yet The Killer That Stalked New York
  • Sid Bennet
1950
No Score Yet Wyoming Mail
  • Sam Wallace
1950
No Score Yet Convicted
  • Owens
1950
83% Side Street
  • Harold Simpsen
1950
No Score Yet Perfect Strangers
  • Defense Attorney
1950
No Score Yet A Life of Her Own
  • Rental Agent
1950
No Score Yet Chicken Every Sunday
  • Mr. Robinson
1949
83% He Walked by Night
  • Reeves
1948
No Score Yet Canon City
  • Heilman
1948
100% Raw Deal
  • Man
1948
No Score Yet That Lady In Ermine
  • Guilio
1948
71% A Double Life
  • Dr. Stauffer
1947
91% Brute Force
  • Tom Lister
1947
No Score Yet The Senator Was Indiscreet
  • Oakes
1947
91% Cluny Brown
  • Dowager's Son
1946
No Score Yet Holy Matrimony
  • Harry Leek
1943
No Score Yet Destination Tokyo
  • Yo Yo
1943

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
1993-1999
  • Appearing
  • 1996
  • 1995
No Score Yet Star Trek
1966-1969
  • Mr. Lurry
  • 1967

Quotes from Whit Bissell's Characters

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