Gabriel Dell

Active - 1937 - 1999  |   Born - Oct 7, 1919   |   Died - Feb 3, 1988   |   Genres - Comedy, Crime, Drama

Share on

Biography by Hal Erickson

The third oldest of the original "Dead End Kids," Gabriel Dell was the only member of that group to enjoy a truly successful solo career. As a reward for his academic achievements, young Dell was permitted to enter New York's Professional Children's School, with his Italian-immigrant father paying his tuition. His first Broadway play was Sidney Kingsley's Dead End, in which he played the sickly street punk "T.B." Together with his Dead End co-stars Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, Billy Halop, Bobby Jordan and Bernard Punsley, Dell was brought to Hollywood for the 1937 film version of the Kingsley play. This led to several other appearances with the Dead End Kids in such Warner Bros. productions as Angels With Dirty Faces (1938) and They Made Me a Criminal (1939). He also worked with two of the "Kid's" splinter groups, the Little Tough Guys and the East Side Kids. Unlike his cohorts Gorcey and Hall, Dell's character changed from picture to picture. After serving in World War II, Dell rejoined his old cinematic gang, now renamed The Bowery Boys. As "Gabe Moreno," Dell generally played the most mature member of the bunch, often a law enforcement officer or crusading reporter. Tired of playing third fiddle to Leo Gorcey and Huntz Hall, Dell quit the Bowery Boys cold in 1950, accepting a role in the Broadway Revue Tickets Please. Deciding to learn to be a "real" actor rather than an overgrown juvenile, Dell studied at the Actors' Studio and took dancing lessons. In the late 1950s, Dell achieved fame as a supporting comedian on The Steve Allen Show, participating in comic sketches with the likes of Tom Poston, Don Knotts, Dayton Allen and Bill Dana. During this period, he developed his famous Bela Lugosi impression, which he'd later repeat in nightclub appearances and on the best-selling record album Famous Movie Monsters Speak. Dell's Broadway career thrived in the 1960s, with well-received appearances in such plays as The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window, Luv and Adaptation. Dell's post-Bowery Boy film appearances included Who is Harry Kellerman and Why is He Saying Those Terrible Things About Me? (1971) and a starring role in the The Manchu Eagle Murder Caper Mystery (1975). A prolific TV guest star, Gabe Dell was starred in the 1972 sitcom The Corner Bar, and five years later was cast as the son of the Devil (Mickey Rooney) in Norman Lear's short-lived comedy-fantasy A Year at the Top.

Movie Highlights

See Full Filmography