William Henry Wright
March 26, 1894
San Francisco, California, U.S.
|Died||June 19, 1962 (aged 68)|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Resting place||Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery in Fairfield, California|
|Other names||Will J. Wright|
Nell Ida Wright
William Henry "Will" Wright (March 26, 1894 – June 19, 1962) was an American actor. 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.
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 and Charlie McCarthy short subject Pure Feud (1934) as 'Lem'. Wright also worked in radio, appearing in more than 5,000 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), Sunset in the West (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 "I Love Lucy", Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Where's Raymond?, The Bob Cummings Show, Our Miss Brooks, Mr. Adams and Eve, 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 to 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 and 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. 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.
|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||Nothing but the Truth||Mr. Bart Prichard||Uncredited|
|1941||Shadow of the Thin Man||Maguire - Nervous Ticket Seller||Uncredited|
|1941||The Tell-Tale Heart||Second Deputy Sheriff||Short, 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||A Man's World||Dan O'Driscoll|
|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||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||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||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||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||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||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|
|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||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||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|
|1954||Willy||Episode: "Operation Stocks"|
|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"|
|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||Mr. Adams and Eve||Calhern||Episode: "They're Off and Running"|
|1957||The Iron Sheriff||Judge|
|1957||The Wayward Bus||Van Brunt|
|1957||Johnny Tremain||Ephraim Lapham|
|1957||Casey Jones||Ed Corley||Episode: "Night Run"|
|1957||Maverick||Jabe Hallock||Episode: "Rope of Cards"|
|1958||Trackdown||Luke Wilson||Episode: "The Toll Road"|
|1958||The Missouri Traveler||Sheriff Peavy|
|1958||Leave It to Beaver||Pete at Firehouse #7||Episode: "Child Care"|
|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"|
|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|
|1961||The Deadly Companions||Doctor Acton|
|1961||The Dick Van Dyke Show||Mr. Petrie Sr, Rob's Father||Episode "Empress Carlotta" (S1E12)|
|1961||Bat Masterson||Billy Willow, an old timer cowboy||Episode: "Bullwhacker’s Bounty" (S3E19)|
|1962||Cape Fear||Dr. Pearsall|
- Obituary Variety, June 27, 1962, p. 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.