Saturday, 30 May 2015

Wally Cassell R.I.P.

Character actor Wally Cassell died on April 2 2015 at the age of 103. He appeared in the films White Heat (1949) and City That Never Sleeps (1953), and such TV shows as The Untouchables  and The Beverly Hillbillies.

Wally Cassell was born Oswaldo Castellano on March 3 1912 in Agrigento, Sicily. He was only two years old when his family moved to the United States. His first film role was an uncredited bit part as a photographer in Fingers at the Window in 1942. For the next several years he appeared in small, uncredited roles in such films as  Dr. Gillespie's New Assistant (1942), The Human Comedy (1943), Thousands Cheer (1943), Maisie Goes to Reno (1944), Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1944), and National Velvet (1944). With The Thin Man Goes Home in 1945 Mr. Cassell began playing somewhat larger roles. Throughout the rest of the Forties he appeared in such films as Story of G.I. Joe (1945), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), Gallant Bess (1946), The Guilty (1947), Saigon (1948), Streets of San Francisco (1949), White Heat (1949), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), and Quicksand (1950).

In the Fifties Wally Cassell appeared in such films as Little Big Horn (1951), The Wild Blue Yonder (1951), Thunderbirds (1952), City That Never Sleeps (1953), Island in the Sky (1953), Timberjack (1955), Until They Sail (1957), and I Mobster (1958). During the Fifties his career turned increasingly towards television, and he guest starred on such shows as Mr. & Mrs North, The Lone Wolf, Fireside Theatre, The Loretta Young Show, Gunsmoke, Date with the Angels, The Ann Sothern Show, The Untouchables, and Rawhide.

The Sixties saw the end of Wally Cassell's career in film and television. He appeared on the TV shows  Alcoa Presents: One Step Beyond, The Blue Angels, The Case of the Dangerous Robin, 87th Precinct, and The Beverly Hillbillies. Following his appearance on The Beverly Hillbillies he retired from acting and went into business.

Wally Cassell was a very talented actor. He may be best known for his roles as a gangster in films noirs and television shows. In fact, his best known roles in both film and television may well have been gangsters. In White Heat he played Cotton Valletti, one of  Cody Jarrett's men who just happens to have a conscience. In both the pilot for The Untouchables that aired on Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse and two Untouchables episodes he played Phil D'Andrea, one of Al Capone's men.  While Mr. Cassell played several gangsters over the years, he also played a variety of other roles and did them well. In fact, in the Forties and Fifties he was often cast in the role of soldiers and sailors. He played a private several times in such films as Story of G.I. Joe (1945), Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), and Thunderbirds (1952). Over the years he played everything from police officers to Old West gunmen. In his very last role on an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies he played a front office executive for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Mr. Cassell's parts were often not very big, but he gave solid performances in nearly all of them.

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