Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Born Today July 14: George Tobias


Comedic actor who specialized in supporting character roles, George Tobias was born on this day in New York City. He is most recognizable as Abner Kravitz from the 1960's supernatural situation comedy "Bewtiched". Before this, he was one of Hollywood's most prolific supporting actors in 1940's and 1950's. He was also a stage actor and worked in the theater during the early portion of his career on both coasts: California and New York--eventually working on Broadway.  Before all of this however, his appeared in one lone silent film in 1927 at the age of 26.  The film--The Lunatic--was based on a play and directed by Harry Garson.  He did not appear in another film until 12 years later, and that was in a bit part in the Warner Bros. romantic comedy Yes, May Darling Daughter--in the meantime, he had worked steadly on the stage. It was not long, however, before his film career took off in spades and he was never again far from the from a motion picture camera. He next got a nice credited supporting part in the MGM comedy Maisie (1939), starring Robert Young and Ann Sothern. He managed to make appearances just in 1939 alone in several films considered classics today:  Charles Laughton's The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Roaring Twenties (in a bit part) and the Greta Garbo film Nonitchka (he also appeared in the 1957 remake Silk Stockings with Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse). With the coming of World War II, it is not a surprise that he appeared in a number war pictures, including the Oscar winning Sergeant York (1941) based on a the true story of highly decorated World War I soldier Sgt. Alvin C. York.  For someone known for his television roles, he made his small screen debut relatively late in 1954 in an uncredited role in the the second season episode A Dry Scalp Is Better Than None of the comedy series Our Miss Brooks--he made three appearances on the show in bit parts. His first recurring television role came in Hudson's Bay, only one other actor Barry Nelson (later famous for his appearance in The Shining) appeared in more episodes of the adventure series. Before landing the role of Kravitz, he had one other recurring character: Trader Penrose on another adventure series Adventures In Paradise.  The Bewtiched character of Abner--the "poopooing" husband of Gladys Kravitz, played by the hilarious Alice Pearce--first appeared in the second episode of the series: Be It Ever So Mortgaged, which aired on the 24th of September in 1964.  His last appearance came on the episode Darrin Goes Ape, which aired on the 11 of March in 1971. In all, he appeared in 54 episodes of the series. He wasn't done with the Bewitched universe however. His very last acting role before retirement came in the Arrival of Nancy episode of the Bewitched spin off series Tabitha; it aired on the 17th of December 1977.  Along the way, he made numerous guest appearances on a number of really well known television shows of the 1960's and 1970's. Tobias died just a little more than two year later after a battle the bladder cancer. He passed away on the 27th of February in 1980 in his adopted home of Los Angeles; he was 78. He was sent back to his native New York City for burial at the Jewish resting place of Mount Carmel in Glendale, Queens. As a point of really fun trivia that a I stumbled on today:  he played on a show that featured Dick York and Dick Sargent, after having been in the Gary Cooper film Sergeant York! Fun fact that!

[Source: Scott A. Carter (Find A Grave)] 



Abner Kravitz (in the Bewitched Wiki)

Find A Grave entry

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