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Happy birthday, Whit Bissell

Published Tuesday, October 25, 2011 @ 12:04 AM EDT
Oct 25 2011

Michael Landon and Whit Bissell in I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957), and Bissell as Mr. Lurry, manager of tribble-infested Deep Space Station K-7 in the original Star Trek episode The Trouble With Tribbles (1967).

(YouTube video: Trailers from Whit's teenage monster classics.)

As old-time O'Brien and Garry listeners know, today is an auspicious date: Whit Bissell's birthday.

Whit (October 25, 1909-March 6, 1996) was an alumnus of the Carolina Playmakers, the prestigious amateur theatrical arm of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

He entered films with 1943's Holy Matrimony, instantly establishing his standard screen characterization of fussy officiousness. Twice as busy on TV as he was in theatrical films, Bissell had a minor role in the 1960 George Pal classic The Time Machine, starred as Woodrow Wilson on a 1965 episode of the Profiles in Courage anthology, and co-starred in Irwin Allen's futuristic adventure series The Time Tunnel.

Lovers of low-budget 1950s horror films have a special place in their hearts for Whit Bissell's brace of "mad scientist" portrayals in I Was a Teenage Werewolf (1957) and I Was a Teenage Frankenstein (1957); it was in the latter film that the admirably straight-faced Bissell uttered the immortal line:

"Answer me! I know you have a civil tongue in your mouth-I sewed it there myself!"

For his contributions to science fiction films, Bissell received a life career award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films in 1994. He served on the Screen Actors Guild board of directors for nearly two decades.
-Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

Categories: Star Trek, Video, YouTube


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