Gilbert Wolf Gabriel, born in Brooklyn, New York in 1890, attended the Peekskill Military Academy and graduated from Williams College in 1912. While at Williams he participated in various campus groups including: Gargoyle, Cap and Bells, English Club, and Executive Committee. After finishing at Williams, he began writing for the Evening Sun as a critic from 1917 to 1924 and again in 1929. From 1929 to 1937, Gabriel wrote for The New York American while publishing short articles and stories in Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Town and Country, The Stage, Harper’s Bazaar, and Collier’s. Williams awarded him an honorary Master of Arts degree in 1937. Towards the end of his career, he wrote for Theater Arts, and Cue (around 1949).
After the Army Expansion Act (1917), Gabriel began military service. At a training camp in Plattsburg, New York he entered the18th Provisional Training Regiment of Company 14. For four months he trained with a select group to serve as an officer and leader to the recently expanded army of draftees. He served during the First World War as a second lieutenant. During the Second World War, Gabriel was sent to Alaska to serve as chief of the Alaskan Mission and a public relations/propaganda officer. He continued his military service as chief of publications for the Psychological Warfare Division in London in 1944; then he retired in the same year after attaining the rank of lieutenant colonel.
In addition to publishing articles in various periodicals, Gabriel also produced a number of longer works. These included novels such as The Seven Branched Candle Stick (1917), Jiminy (1922), Great Fortune (1933), Love From London (1946), and I Thee Wed (1948). His novel I, James Lewis (1932) was rewritten as the screenplay This Woman Is Mine (1941) by Frank Lloyd, earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Score. In addition to these works, Gabriel also wrote as a children’s author under the pseudonym of Gilly Bear. His works under this name include Billy, Boy Scout (1916), My Dobbin (1916), and The Adventures of Peter Peterkin (1916) as part of the “Chimney Corner” Series for Sam’l Gabriel and Sons, the family publishing company.
While working as a music critic, Gabriel studied music and composition at Julliard and then in Rome. Utilizing the skills he developed, he began writing a number of plays that got him some minor acclaim including Clap Hands (1934). During this time he also became the president of the New York Drama Critics Circle, while also teaching dramatic criticism at New York University as an adjunct professor.
Gilbert W. Gabriel died at age 62 of a heart attack at Northern Westchester Hospital, in Mount Kisco on September 4, 1952. “Everyone on the stage or associated with the stage knew Gabriel,” states one writer in Gabriel’s obituary. “He could recognize genuine art in any medium and venerated it wherever he saw it.” He left his wife, Ada Vorhaus Gabriel, a painter and lithographer, and two of his brothers who continued Samuel Gabriel Sons & Co. At the time of his death he and his wife split their time between their home in Brewster, New York and New York City.