Will Wright (actor)
|Born||William Henry Wright
March 26, 1894
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Died||June 19, 1962
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery in Fairfield, California|
|Other names||Will J. Wright
|Spouse(s)||Nell Ida Wright (m. 1920–62) (his death)|
William Henry Wright, known as Will Wright (March 26, 1894 – June 19, 1962) was an American actor. He was frequently cast in westerns and as curmudgeonly old men. Over the course of his career, Wright appeared in more than two hundred film and television roles.
Born in San Francisco, Wright worked as a newspaperman before beginning a career in show business. He started his acting career in vaudeville and later moved to the stage. While on the NY stages, he picked up some film roles at Vitaphone Studios in Brooklyn; one confirmed sighting is in the Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy short subject Pure Feud (1934) as 'Lem'. Wright also worked in radio, appearing in more than five thousand radio programs. His radio performances have included Zeb on Al Pearce and His Gang, George Honeywell in My Little Margie, Mahoney on Glamour Manor and the title character, Ephraim Tutt in The Amazing Mr. Tutt. He has also guest starred on radio shows, such as The Man Called X, The Charlotte Greenwood Show and The Jack Benny Program (he later appeared on the television version of the program).
Wright made his west coast film debut in 1940 Blondie Plays Cupid. In 1942, he provided the voice of Friend Owl in Walt Disney's animated film Bambi. Wright also had roles in Shadow of the Thin Man (1941), The Major and the Minor (1943), So Proudly We Hail! (1943), Road to Utopia (1946), Mother Wore Tights (1947), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), Little Women (1949), Walk Softly, Stranger (1950), People Will Talk (1951), The Happy Time (1952), River of No Return (1954), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), Jeanne Eagels (1957), and Gunman's Walk (1958).
One of his most famous and memorable film roles was corrupt city official Dolph Pillsbury in the Academy Award-winning picture, All the King's Men.
During the 1950s, he guest starred on several television series, including Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Where's Raymond?, The Bob Cummings Show, Our Miss Brooks, Father Knows Best, The Millionaire, Circus Boy, Fury, The Real McCoys, The Donna Reed Show, The Restless Gun, Lawman, Tales of Wells Fargo, and The Rough Riders. He even took a shift as Pete the fireman at the auxiliary fire station on Leave It To Beaver before Burt Mustin's Gus permanently replaced him.
Wright was cast in the 1958 episode "The Cave-In" episode of the syndicated series Rescue 8, starring Jim Davis and Lang Jeffries. He played an elderly man who attempts with shovel and bucket to build a backyard swimming pool for his grandchildren with disastrous results because of the lack of proper shoring.
In 1959, he was cast as J.C. Sickel in the episode, "Payment in Full" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. Also appearing in this episode were Aldo Ray as Hunk Farber, John Larch as Touhy, and Barbara Bel Geddes as Missy. In the story line, Farber betrays his friend and employer to collect reward money, which he uses to court his girlfriend, Missy.
From 1959-1961, Wright had recurring roles on NBC's Bat Masterson and CBS's Dennis the Menace. He also made multiple appearances on I Love Lucy, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, The Lone Ranger, Sugarfoot, December Bride, and Maverick.
Wright made three guest appearances on Perry Mason between 1959-1961. He first appeared as Chuck Clark in "The Case of the Petulant Partner," then as Adam Thompson in "The Case of the Nimble Nephew," and finally as James Vardon in "The Case of the Brazen Bequest".
In 1960, Wright appeared as Mr. Johnson on CBS's The Danny Thomas Show in the episode entitled, "Danny Meets Andy Griffith", the spin-off for The Andy Griffith Show. On The Andy Griffith Show, Wright portrayed department store owner and landlord Ben Weaver in three episodes from 1960 to 1962. After his death, he was replaced as Ben Weaver, first by Tol Avery, and then by Jason Johnson. Wright made his last onscreen appearances in a 1962 episode of NBC's Bonanza.
|1941||Maisie Was a Lady||Judge Thatcher||Uncredited|
|1941||Honky Tonk||Townsman at Meeting House||Uncredited|
|1942||Tales of Manhattan||Old Concertgoer||Uncredited|
|1943||Submarine Alert||Local Sheriff||Uncredited|
|1943||Sleepy Lagoon||Cyrus Coates|
|1944||The Town Went Wild||Judge Harry Schrank||Uncredited|
|1944||Practically Yours||Senator Cowling||Uncredited|
|1945||Rhapsody in Blue||Rachmaninoff|
|1945||State Fair||Hog Judge||Uncredited|
|1946||The Blue Dahlia||'Dad' Newell|
|1946||The Inner Circle||Henry Boggs|
|1947||Blaze of Noon||Mr. Thomas|
|1947||Keeper of the Bees||Dr. Grayson|
|1948||Green Grass of Wyoming||Jake Willis|
|1948||They Live by Night||Mobley|
|1949||All the King's Men||Dolph Pillsbury|
|1949||Adam's Rib||Judge Marcasson|
|1949||Little Women||The Proprietor - Mister Grace||Uncredited|
|1950||A Ticket to Tomahawk||Dodge|
|1950||Sunset in the West||Sheriff Tad Osborne|
|1951||Vengeance Valley||Mr. Willoughby|
|1951||My Forbidden Past||Luther Toplady||Alternative title: Carriage Entrance|
|1952||The Las Vegas Story||Mike Fogarty|
|1952||Lure of the Wilderness||Sheriff Brink|
|1953||The Wild One||Art Kleiner|
|1954||The Raid||Josiah Anderson|
|1954||Johnny Guitar||Ned - Bank Teller||Uncredited|
|1955||Lux Video Theatre||Commodore||Episode: "The Amazing Mrs. Halliday"|
|1955||The Lone Ranger||Uncle Ed Andrews||Episode: "Uncle Ed"|
|1955||The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell||Admiral William S. Sims|
|1955||The Bob Cummings Show||Burt Mason||Episode "Bob Becomes a Genius"|
|Fury||Windy||Episode" Ghost Town"
Episode: "The Meanest Man"
|The Danny Thomas Show||Will Finch
|Episode: "A Trip To Wisconsin
"Episode: "Danny Meets Andy Griffith"
|1956||The Lone Ranger||Marshal Griff Allison||Episode: "No Handicap"|
|1956||Lassie||Caleb Brown||Episode: "The Trial"|
|1956||These Wilder Years||Old Cab Driver|
|1957||Johnny Tremain||Ephraim Lapham|
|1957||The Iron Sheriff||Judge|
|1957||The Wayward Bus||Van Brunt|
|1957||Casey Jones||Ed Corley||Episode: "Night Run"|
|1958||The Missouri Traveler||Sheriff Peavy|
|1958||Leave It to Beaver||Pete at Firehouse #7||Episode: "Child Care"|
|1959||Alias Jesse James||Titus Queasley|
|1959||The 30 Foot Bride of Candy Rock||Pentagon General|
|1959-1961||Dennis the Menace||Mister Merrivale|
|1960||Mr. Lucky||The Leadville Kid||Episode: "The Leadville Kid Gang"|
|1960||Inherit the Wind||Bible Salesman||Uncredited|
|1960||The Deputy||Delaney||Episode: "The Chain of Action"|
|Episode: "Desert Justice"
Episode: "The Fugitive"
Episode: "The Mountain Girl"
|1960-1962||The Andy Griffith Show||Ben Weaver||Episode: "Christmas Story"
Episode: "Andy Forecloses"
Episode: "The Merchant of Mayberry"
|1961||The Donna Reed Show||Oliver||Episode: "Aunt Belle's Earrings"|
|1961||Mr. Ed||Mister Thompson||Episode: "Pine Lake Lodge"|
|1961||77 Sunset Strip||Luther Hanks||Episode: "Mr. Goldilocks"|
|1961||The Tall Man||Mayor Hackett||Episode: "Death or Taxes"|
|1962||Pete and Gladys||Justice of the Peace||Episode: "Garden Wedding"|
|1962||Cape Fear||Dr. Pearsall|
- Obituary Variety, June 27, 1962, page 52.
- "Will Wright, 68, an Actor Known for Character Roles". The New York Times. 1962-06-21.
- "Reporter Movie Actor". The Deseret News. 1949-01-01.
- Will Wright's bio at OTRpedia.com
- The Great Radio Heroes
- Hill, Tom (2001). TV Land To Go: The Big Book Of TV lists, TV Lore, and TV Bests. Simon & Schuster. p. 299. ISBN 0-684-85615-8.
- Kelly, Richard Michael (1981). The Andy Griffith Show (7 ed.). John F. Blair, Publisher. p. 157. ISBN 0-895-87043-6.
- "Will Wright: Obituary". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1962-06-20. p. B10.