Producer Michael Abbott dies at 81

Legit vet had been working Lee's 'Stalag 17'

Film and theater producer Michael Abbott died of cancer Jan. 24 in Manhattan. He was 81.

Abbott had been working on a new production of “Stalag 17” with director Spike Lee for an upcoming Broadway engagement.

 Before making his way into producing, Abbott appeared for the first time on Broadway as an actor in Herman Wouk’s 1949 drama, “The Traitor.” At just 23, he brought comedy “Late Love” with Arlene Francis to Broadway. In London, he produced Anglo-American musical revue “From Here and There” at the Royal Court Theater.

As a producer and executive in charge of the West Coast offices of Talent Associates-Paramount, he produced TV programs including “The Prince and the Pauper,” “The Bridge of San Luis Rey,” “A Tale of Two Cities” and in 1959, “The Moon and Sixpence.”

 Abbott also produced a network specials including two award-winning Eleanor Roosevelt tributes written by Emmy-Award winner Reginald Rose, “Something Special” with Robert Young and “At This Very Moment,” hosted by Burt Lancaster, starring Bob Hope, Harry Belafonte, Lena Home and President John F. Kennedy.

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Born and raised in New York, he studied at Pratt Institute and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. He was a member of the Bucks County Playhouse acting company and also appeared on TV programs including “Martin Kane,” “Philco-Goodyear Playhouse,” and many Milton Berle Texaco shows.

His production of “Hedda Hopper’s Hollywood” became a cult favorite, featuring stars such as Gary Cooper, Lucille Ball, James Stewart, Liza Minnelli, Anthony Perkins, Debbie Reynolds and Gloria Swanson.

He is survived by a sister.