William Bendix

Happy birthday to actor WilliamBendixWilliam Bendix, born Jan. 14, 1906 in Manhattan, NY. With his husky physique and prominent New York accent, Bendix was equally suited to playing blue collar working men as well as vicious thugs. In the early 1920s, he was a batboy for the New York Yankees, and by the end of the decade, managed a grocery store. In the 1930s, Bendix took an interest in acting and appeared in several small Broadway productions. He made his first film appearance at age 35 in Brooklyn Orchid (1942). In that same year, he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Wake Island (1942), which established him as a solid supporting player and led to over 50 movie appearances throughout the 1940s and 50s. In 1944, he became the star of the hit radio show The Life of Riley, which ran on radio until 1951, and then on television from 1953 to 1958, solidifying his popularity as a blue collar everyman. As a film actor, Bendix was capable of playing a variety of roles from serious to comedic. Some of his more notable films include: Lifeboat (1944) directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Calcutta (1947) with Alan Ladd, The Babe Ruth Story (1948) as Babe Ruth, and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1949) with Bing Crosby. Bendix’s genuine down-to-earth persona also made him an ideal actor for gritty noir films, of which there were many: The Glass Key (1942), The Dark Corner (1946), The Blue Dahlia (1946), The Web (1947), Race Street (1948), The Big Steal (1949), Gambling House (1950), Detective Story (1951), Macao (1952), and Crashout (1955). In the 1960s, Bendix continued to appear on television and had several more movie roles until his death in 1964 from a chronic stomach ailment that resulted in pneumonia. He was 58.

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