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April 7, 1918
Mars, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||January 26, 1957
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Other names||Will Eythe|
|Spouse(s)||Buff Cobb (1947-49) (divorced)|
William Eythe (April 7, 1918 – January 26, 1957) was an American actor of film, radio, television and stage.
Early life and career
Born in Mars, Pennsylvania, a small town located about 25 miles from Pittsburgh, he was interested in acting from a young age. He attended Carnegie Tech University and studied acting and he began writing his own plays. Lend An Ear, was one of his early plays and proved to be a theatrical success, later going on to have a Broadway run.
Eythe eventually moved to New York City, where he got various jobs performing in radio dramas and as an announcer for a local television station. During the Second World War, many of Hollywood's young male stars were away at war, and the film studios were forced to locate newer, younger actors who were below the age of military service, or those actors who were considered unfit for service due to medical conditions. Eythe, who had poor hearing, was one such actor, and he was spotted by a talent scout for 20th Century Fox films. He appeared in both the 1942 Broadway play and 1944 Fox film version of The Eve of St. Mark.
He was given a screen-test, and landed a role in the film The Ox-Bow Incident, which co-starred Henry Fonda and Dana Andrews. In 1943, he starred opposite Jennifer Jones in the Academy Award-winning film The Song of Bernadette. Among his films are two directed by Otto Preminger, Centennial Summer and A Royal Scandal, in which he co-stars with Tallulah Bankhead, Anne Baxter and Charles Coburn.
Eythe’s most notable screen appearance was as double-agent Bill Dietrich in the 1945 spy thriller The House on 92nd Street, a semi-documentary directed by Henry Hathaway. This was the only 20th Century-Fox picture in which he was top billed.
After being dropped by Fox two pictures later, Eythe made a B picture for Pine-Thomas/Paramount, a B for Columbia, and a British swashbuckler prior to working in television, but he focused on theatre work. Eythe was influential in the career of Carol Channing, starring with her in the Broadway revue Lend an Ear in 1948. He also appeared in a starring (though non-singing) role in the 1950 Cole Porter musical Out of this World, based on the Greek myth of Amphitryon, in which Jupiter (George Gaynes) comes to earth to bed a lovely young lady, taking the shape of her much-loved husband (Eythe). The song "From This Moment On," which went on to become a standard, was originally written for the couple.
Eythe was linked with many of the female stars in Hollywood of the time, such as Anne Baxter, June Haver, Margaret Whiting and others, but in real life Eythe was homosexual. Eythe was involved in a relationship with Lon McCallister, a young screen actor.
Eythe quickly married a young 20th Century Fox contract actress, Buff Cobb, in 1947. The marriage was short-lived and was not a happy one, and the couple would divorce in 1948. Cobb would later sue Eythe for support payments.
- The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) - Gerald Tetley
- The Song of Bernadette (1943) - Antoine Nicolau
- The Eve of St. Mark (1944) - Pvt. Quizz West
- Wilson (1944) - George Felton
- Wing and a Prayer (1944) - Ens. Hallam 'Oscar' Scott
- A Royal Scandal (1945) - Lt. Alexei Chernoff
- The House on 92nd Street (1945) - Bill Dietrich
- Colonel Effingham's Raid (1946) - Albert 'Al' Marbury
- Centennial Summer (1946) - Ben Phelps
- Meet Me at Dawn (1947) - Charles Morton
- Mr. Reckless (1948) - Jeff Lundy
- Special Agent (1949) - Johnny Douglas
- Customs Agent (1950) - Bert Stewart