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William Henry "Will" Wright (March 26, 1894 – June 19, 1962) was an American actor.[1] He was frequently cast in westerns and as a curmudgeonly and argumentative old man. Over the course of his career, Wright appeared in more than 200 film and television roles.

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. 1920–1962) (his death)
Children 1

Contents

CareerEdit

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. 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 titled, "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.

DeathEdit

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 filmographyEdit

Year Title Role Notes
1934 Pure Feud Lem Short, Uncredited
1940 Blondie Plays Cupid Tucker
1941 Maisie Was a Lady Judge Thatcher Uncredited
1941 Blossoms in the Dust Texas Senator Uncredited
1941 Cracked Nuts Sylvanus Boogle
1941 Richest Man in Town Frederick Johnson
1941 Honky Tonk Townsman at Meeting House Uncredited
1941 Mob Town Pawnbroker Uncredited
1941 Nothing but the Truth Mr. Bart Prichard Uncredited
1941 Shadow of the Thin Man Maguire - Nervous Ticket Seller Uncredited
1942 Shut My Big Mouth Long
1942 Saboteur J.C. Lormans - Company Official Uncredited
1942 The Postman Didn't Ring Mr. Slade
1942 Tales of Manhattan Old Concertgoer (Laughton sequence), Uncredited
1942 Bambi Friend Owl Voice, Uncredited
1942 Wildcat John 'Paw' Smithers
1942 The Major and the Minor Ticket Agent #1 Uncredited
1942 USS VD: Ship of Shame Commandant Uncredited
1942 Tennessee Johnson Alderman Uncredited
1943 The Meanest Man in the World Pawn Shop Owner Uncredited
1943 Submarine Alert Local Sheriff Uncredited
1943 Cowboy in Manhattan Higgins Uncredited
1943 The Good Fellows Brother from Danville Uncredited
1943 Sleepy Lagoon Cyrus Coates
1943 So Proudly We Hail! Col. Clark Uncredited
1943 Minesweeper Naval Captain Uncredited
1943 Here Comes Elmer Horace Parrot
1943 In Old Oklahoma Doctor Uncredited
1944 The Navy Way Baldy - Triangle A Ranch Hand Uncredited
1944 You Can't Ration Love Judge Cary, Justice of the Peace Uncredited
1944 Take It Big Rodeo Judge Uncredited
1944 Wilson Hughes Campaign Orator in Maine Uncredited
1944 The Town Went Wild Judge Harry Schrank Uncredited
1944 Dangerous Passage Postal Clerk Uncredited
1944 Practically Yours Sen. Cowling Uncredited
1945 Grissly's Millions John Frey
1945 High Powered Jeff Hines Uncredited
1945 Salome Where She Danced Sheriff
1945 Rhapsody in Blue Rachmaninoff
1945 Bewitched Mr. Herkheimer
1945 You Came Along Col. Dale V. Armstrong Uncredited
1945 The Strange Affair of Uncle Harry Mr. Nelson Uncredited
1945 State Fair Hog Judge Uncredited
1945 Road to Utopia Mr. Latimer Uncredited
1945 Scarlet Street Globe Loan Office Manager Uncredited
1946 The Madonna's Secret The Riverman
1946 The Hoodlum Saint Allan Smith - Times Editor Uncredited
1946 Johnny Comes Flying Home Foreman Uncredited
1946 The Blue Dahlia 'Dad' Newell
1946 They Made Me a Killer Henry, the Blacksmith Uncredited
1946 Without Reservations Pullman Conductor Uncredited
1946 One Exciting Week Otis Piper
1946 Hot Cargo Tim Chapman
1946 Rendezvous with Annie Elmer Snodgrass
1946 The Inner Circle Henry Boggs
1946 Down Missouri Way Prof. Morris
1946 Big Town Station Agent Uncredited
1946 The Jolson Story Sourpuss Movie Patron Uncredited
1946 Blue Skies Dan - Stage Manager Uncredited
1947 California Chairman Uncredited
1947 Danger Street Bullward - Police Chief Uncredited
1947 Blaze of Noon Mr. Thomas
1947 The Long Night Mr. Tully - the Janitor Uncreidted
1947 The Trouble with Women Commissioner Uncredited
1947 Keeper of the Bees Dr. Grayson
1947 Mother Wore Tights Withers
1947 Cynthia Gus Wood
1947 Along the Oregon Trail Jim Bridger
1947 Wild Harvest Mike Alperson
1948 Relentless Sam - the Horse Dealer
1948 The Inside Story J.J. Johnson
1948 Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House Eph Hackett Uncredited
1948 Green Grass of Wyoming Jake Willis
1948 So This Is New York Uncle Fergus Uncredited
1948 The Walls of Jericho Dr. Patterson Uncredited
1948 They Live by Night Mobley
1948 Black Eagle Sheriff Clancy
1948 Disaster Pop Hansford
1948 An Act of Murder Judge Jim Wilder
1948 Whispering Smith Sheriff McSwiggin
1949 Act of Violence Pop
1949 Little Women Mr. Grace, Store Proprietor Uncredited
1949 The Green Promise Mr. Grinstedt Uncredited
1949 Big Jack Will Farnsworth
1949 Lust for Gold Parsons Uncredited
1949 Brimstone Martin Tredwell
1949 Miss Grant Takes Richmond Roscoe Johnson Uncredited
1949 All the King's Men Dolph Pillsbury
1949 Adam's Rib Judge Marcasson
1949 Mrs. Mike Dr. McIntosh
1950 House by the River Inspector Sarten
1950 A Ticket to Tomahawk Marshal Kit Dodge
1950 The Savage Horde Judge Thomas Cole
1950 No Way Out Dr. Cheney Uncredited
1950 Sunset in the West Sheriff Tad Osborne
1950 Walk Softly, Stranger Jake, Poker Player Uncredited
1950 Dallas Judge Harper Uncredited
1951 Vengeance Valley Mr. Willoughby
1951 My Forbidden Past Luther Toplady Alternative title: Carriage Entrance
1951 Excuse My Dust Race judge
1951 Never Trust a Gambler Cap Douglas Uncredited
1951 The Tall Target Thomas I. Ogden - Train Passenger Uncredited
1951 People Will Talk Uncle John Higgins Uncredited
1952 The Las Vegas Story Mike Fogarty
1952 Young Man with Ideas Party Guest Uncredited
1952 Paula Raymond Bascom
1952 Lydia Bailey Consul Uncredited
1952 Lure of the Wilderness Sheriff Brink
1952 Holiday for Sinners The Man with a Cigar
1952 O. Henry's Full House Manager (segment "The Clarion Call"), Uncredited
1952 The Happy Time Family Doctor
1953 Niagara Boatman
1953 The Last Posse Todd Mitchell
1953 The Wild One Art Kleiner
1954 River of No Return Trader Uncredited
1954 Johnny Guitar Ned - Bank Teller Uncredited
1954 The Raid Josiah Anderson
1955 Lux Video Theatre Commodore Episode: "The Amazing Mrs. Halliday"
1955 The Lone Ranger Uncle Ed Andrews Episode: "Uncle Ed"
1955 Not as a Stranger Mr. Roberts Uncredited
1955 The Kentuckian John Decker - Shopkeeper Uncredited
1955 The Tall Men Gus - Bartender Uncredited
1955 The Man with the Golden Arm Harry Lane Uncredited
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 The Iron Sheriff Judge
1957 The Wayward Bus Van Brunt
1957 Johnny Tremain Ephraim Lapham
1957 Jeanne Eagels Marshal Uncredited
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"
1958 Quantrill's Raiders Judge
1958 Gunman's Walk Judge
1958 Rock-A-Bye Baby Fire Chief Uncredited
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", (final appearance)
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"
1961 The Deadly Companions Doctor Acton
1961 Twenty Plus Two Newspaper Morgue Attendant Uncredited
1962 Pete and Gladys Justice of the Peace Episode: "Garden Wedding"
1962 Cape Fear Dr. Pearsall

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Obituary Variety, June 27, 1962, p. 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 linksEdit