Whit Bissell was born October 25, 1909 and passed away on March 5, 1996.
New York-born actor Whit Bissell is best known to Star Trek fans for playing Lurry on the classic original series episode “The Trouble with Tribbles”. Footage of his scenes were later incorporated into the Deep Space Nine episode “Trials and Tribble-ations”.
Bissell was certainly no stranger to the science fiction genre. One of Bissel’s more memorable roles is “Dr. Alfred Brandon” in the cult science fiction film I Was a Teenage Werewolf in 1957. He would later go on to play “Walter Kemp” in George Pal’s version of The Time Machine in 1960. And while Star Trek: The Original Series was in its first season, Bissell was a regular on the sci-fi TV series The Time Tunnel, which also starred DS9 actor James Darren and TOS guest star Lee Meriwether.
Besides The Time Tunnel, Bissell was also a regular on the 1950s sitcom Bachelor Father. That series also featured TOS guest star Jeanne Bal.
Bissell has appeared in several motion pictures which also included other actors who were or would be involved with Star Trek. Earlier in his career, he co-starred in 1948’s Canon City along with TOS actor DeForest Kelley and one-time guest actor Jeff Corey. Bissell would later go on to appear with Kelley in three other films: Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Warlock (1959), and Where Love Has Gone (1964). Bissell and Jeff Corey had previously appeared together in It Shouldn’t Happen to a Dog, Somewhere in the Night (both 1946), and Brute Force (1947). The two would later co-star together in 1951’s Red Mountain.
Bissel also appeared in the 1959 film Never So Few, in which George Takei also appeared. He played one of Frank Sinatra’s superior officers in the 1962 political psycho-drama The Manchurian Candidate, which also had work for Reggie Nalder, Leslie Parrish and James Gregory. In 1964, Bissell had a supporting role in the classic thriller Seven Days in May, also featuring a brief appearance by Leonard Nimoy. Unlike Bissell, neither Takei nor Nimoy were credited for their appearances. In 1965, Bissell appeared in The Hallelujah Trail, which also featured one-time DS9 guest actor Brian Keith.
He and TOS star William Shatner would later appear in the 1970 telefilm The Andersonville Trial along with Ian Wolfe and Harry Townes. Bissell also had a role in the 1972 film Pete ‘n’ Tillie, as did DS9 actor Rene Auberjonois. And, adding to his science fiction credits, Bissell also appeared in the 1973 sci-fi film Soylent Green, which co-starred DS9 actor Brock Peters.
Bissell has appeared in many other notable films, including The Caine Mutiny (1954, featuring Roy Jenson and Don Keefer), The Desperate Hours (1955), The Magnificent Seven (1960, featuring Joseph Ruskin and John A. Alonzo), Birdman of Alcatraz (1962, featuring Pete Kellett and Leo Penn) and Hud (1963). He also made guest appearances on numerous television series, from Perry Mason and Wagon Train to The Dukes of Hazzard and The Incredible Hulk. In 1994, he received a Life Career Award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films for his work with those genres.
Bissell died of Parkinson’s disease on 5 March 1996 in Woodland Hills, California. He was 86 years old. He left behind a legacy that included some 300 film and television appearances.
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