In critiquing a minor science fiction film of the late '50s, a prominent film historian characterized star Phillip Abbott as "...the kind of actor whose face you forget five minutes after seeing it." While there is some truth in this, let it be recorded here and now that Abbott's professional credentials were as impeccable and impressive as any "unforgettable" star. After serving with the U.S. Air Force in World War II (and earning an air medal and three oak-leaf clusters in the process), Abbott attended Fordham University, and later studied acting at the Pasadena Playhouse. Making his Broadway debut in 1948, he went on to appear in such stage successes as Detective Story and Two for the Seesaw. Far from being completely unmemorable in films, Abbott had at least two praiseworthy screen characterizations to his credit: nervous groom-to-be Arnold in The Bachelor Party (1957) and doctor-with-a-secret George Scudder in Sweet Bird of Youth (1962). His many network television credits included a stint as host/narrator on the experimental 1960 psychological soap opera House on High Street, and the continuing role of Assistant Director Arthur Ward on The FBI (1965-1974).
Before, during, and after the height of his film and TV activities, Abbott continued to be a busy stage actor/director. In 1962, he co-founded Theatre West, an L.A.-based actor's workshop. He also produced, directed, and wrote nine instructional films for the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, as well as the ten-episode Lessons for Living, an in-school training project underwritten by the Disney studios. In addition, he created and produced the TV weekly Hidden Places on behalf of Nebraska Public Television. Outside of his professional activities, Abbott was active with the United Cerebral Palsy/Spastic Children's Foundation, and was one of the leading citizens of Tarzana, CA, where he served as president of the Nelson Company. Forgettable though his screen appearances may have been at times, Phillip Abbott will always be remembered by someone.