Will Wright (actor)

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For other people of the same name, see William Wright.
Will Wright
Born William Henry Wright
(1894-03-26)March 26, 1894
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Died June 19, 1962(1962-06-19) (aged 68)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Cancer
Resting place
Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery in Fairfield, California
Nationality American
Other names Will J. Wright
William Wright
Occupation Actor
Years active 1934-1962
Spouse(s) Nell Ida Wright (m. 1920–62) (his death)
Children 1

William Henry Wright, known as Will Wright (March 26, 1894 – June 19, 1962) was an American actor.[1] 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.

Career[edit]

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.[2] 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.[3] 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.[4] 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).[5]

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.

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.[6] 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.[7] Wright made his last onscreen appearances in a 1962 episode of NBC's Bonanza.

Death[edit]

On June 19, 1962, Wright died of cancer at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles.[8] He is interred in Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery in Fairfield, California.

Selected filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1934 Pure Feud Lem Uncredited
1941 Maisie Was a Lady Judge Thatcher Uncredited
1941 Honky Tonk Townsman at Meeting House Uncredited
1942 Tales of Manhattan Old Concertgoer Uncredited
1942 Tennessee Johnson Alderman Uncredited
1942 Bambi Friend Owl Voice
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 Niagara'' Boatman
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"
1955,
1958
Fury Windy Episode" Ghost Town"
Episode: "The Meanest Man"
1955,
1960
The Danny Thomas Show Will Finch
Mr. Johnson
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"
1960-1962 Bonanza Micah Bailey
Will Reagan
Seth Coombs
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

References[edit]

  1. ^ Obituary Variety, June 27, 1962, page 52.
  2. ^ "Will Wright, 68, an Actor Known for Character Roles". The New York Times. 1962-06-21. 
  3. ^ "Reporter Movie Actor". The Deseret News. 1949-01-01. 
  4. ^ Will Wright's bio at OTRpedia.com
  5. ^ The Great Radio Heroes
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ Kelly, Richard Michael (1981). The Andy Griffith Show (7 ed.). John F. Blair, Publisher. p. 157. ISBN 0-895-87043-6. 
  8. ^ "Will Wright: Obituary". Chicago Daily Tribune. 1962-06-20. p. B10. 

External links[edit]