A close friend of playwright George S. Kaufman, Pichel also convinced veteran character actor Charles Lane to give acting a try. Together they went to Los Angeles and studied at the Pasadena Playhouse.
Directed 2 actors to Oscar nominations: Monty Woolley (Best Actor, The Pied Piper (1942)) and J. Carrol Naish (Best Supporting Actor, A Medal for Benny (1945)).
Discovered actress Natalie Wood
Ethnic character villain in early pre-Code talkies who later moved into full-time directing for Twentieth Century-Fox. Pichel (last name pronounced "Pitch-ell" like "Mitchell") directed the sci-fi film Destination Moon (1950), which won a "Best Crime or Adventure" award at the Berlin Film Festival and a special effects Oscar.
Graduate of Harvard
He died suddenly in 1954, only a week after completing his last film as a director, Day of Triumph (1954).
Played Fagin in Monogram Pictures' low-budget version of Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (1933). His reviews were mixed.