Bill Kennedy (actor)
Bill Kennedy as the racetrack announcer in Adventures of Superman, Ep. 66, "Joey"
June 27, 1908|
Cleveland Heights, Ohio, U.S.
January 27, 1997 (aged 88)|
Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Suzanne Kennedy (1971–1997) (his death) 3 children|
Willard "Bill" Kennedy (June 27, 1908 – January 27, 1997) was an American actor, voice artist, and host of the long-running Detroit-based television show, Bill Kennedy at the Movies. He began his career as a staff announcer in radio; Kennedy's voice narrates the opening of the television series Adventures of Superman.
Early life and education
Kennedy was born June 27, 1908 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
Kennedy began his media career as a staff announcer at WWJ, The Detroit News.
In the 1940s, he became a Warner Bros. contract player, appearing in dozens of Hollywood movies from 1941 through 1955. He was often cast as a police officer or detective. He played Thierache, the Executioner, who sets fire to Joan (played by Ingrid Bergman) in Joan of Arc (1948), but recounted that after the picture previewed in a neighborhood popular with gays, his one line – "We need more fagots" (a term referring to a bundle of sticks used to burn someone at the stake) – generated loud laughter from the audience during the execution scene. He also played opposite Cary Grant in Destination Tokyo.
For the Superman TV series, he was the announcer during its several year run. He appeared off-screen (uncredited) as the wrestling announcer in the 1952 episode, "No Holds Barred;" and on-screen, as one of the radio announcers (uncredited) in the 1953 episode, "Crime Wave"; and as the racetrack announcer in the 1955 episode "Joey". He is believed to have provided the voice on the phone for the 1954 episode, "Beware the Wrecker". Denver Pyle played the part on-screen and had a couple of spoken lines. Kennedy also appeared as a guest star in numerous series, such as The Lone Ranger, The Cisco Kid, The Gene Autry Show, and Death Valley Days.
In 1956 Kennedy returned from California to the Detroit area as host of Bill Kennedy's Showtime at CKLW-TV, based directly across the Detroit River in Windsor, Ontario. The musical standard, "Just in Time" was his theme song. In 1969 he moved to WKBD and continued hosting the show, named Bill Kennedy at the Movies, until retiring to Florida in 1983.
On his afternoon TV program, he showed old movies, and provided anecdotes about the actors and the production of the movies. These came in large part from his own Hollywood experience. He had a deadpan, sardonic style which many found refreshing, somewhat similar to that of Ed Sullivan. He expressed his opinion of the movies, making comments such as "We have a moderately good picture for you today". He introduced the featured film, Dragonwyck (1946), by saying, "Today we have one of the most boring movies ever made." He took on-air calls from viewers, which was a highlight of his daily shows. When Kennedy showed a film in which he had a part, he would talk at every break about the role, but always with a wink and good humor. Kennedy would also interview stars of some of the movies that he would host when those stars would be visiting the Detroit area and include it with that days film broadcast.
- Destination Tokyo (1943)
- Joan of Arc (1948)
- Trail of the Yukon (1949)
- Forgotten Women (1949)
- Storm Over Wyoming (1950)
- Two Lost Worlds (1951)
- Gary H. Grossman (1977). Superman: Serial to Cereal. Popular Library (paperback).
- Duffy, Mike (1997-01-28). "B actor was A1 Detroit movie host". Detroit Free Press.