William Bendix Poster


Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (2)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (18)  | Personal Quotes (3)

Overview (4)

Born in New York City, New York, USA
Died in Los Angeles, California, USA  (lobar pneumonia)
Nickname Bill
Height 5' 10½" (1.79 m)

Mini Bio (2)

William Bendix was not a son of Brooklyn, New York, although because of his stereotypical "Brooklyn accent" it has been widely supposed that he was. Bendix was actually born in the Borough of Manhattan (New York City proper), in a midtown flat hard by the tracks of the long-since defunct Third-Avenue Elevated Railway. (Manhattan sections of the "El," as New Yorkers called it, were demolished circa 1956.)

Jut-jawed, broken-nosed and burly, Bendix began his acting career after the ravages of the Great Depression had killed his erstwhile grocery business. Having performed in nightclubs even while grocer, and having portrayed taxicab drivers in a series of Broadway flops, he enjoyed his first notable performance on the Broadway stage in 1939, portraying the cop Krupp in William Saroyan's "The Time of Your Life." His Hollywood feature debut came about in one of his few starring roles, in Hal Roach's Brooklyn Orchid (1942). But more often than not, in his movies Bendix received less than top billing, inasmuch as so many of his film assignments involved supporting roles. Despite (or perhaps on account of) his looks he was often called upon to supply comedic support, as in A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949), when, portraying Sir Sagramore of King Arthur's Round Table in full suit of armor and pageboy wig, he waxeth eloquent, in his Brooklyn accent but in the most incongruent of Middle English dialects! On the other hand, that same craggy appearance had him in such roles as that of the thug Jeff in The Glass Key (1942), in which he repeatedly and gleefully uses his fists to beat star Alan Ladd's face to a pulp and then sadistically challenges Ladd, once he is healed, to come back and receive further "treatment"! Although he will always be fondly remembered for his light-comedy portrayals (in *three* of the mass media!) of Chester A. Riley in The Life of Riley (1949) and The Life of Riley (1953), perhaps William Bendix's finest and most memorable dramatic performance came in Lifeboat (1944), when he touchingly interprets the role of Gus, the shipwreck survivor whose gangrenous limb has to be removed, the absence of anesthesia notwithstanding.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Bill Takacs <kinephile@aol.com>

Popular American character actor William Bendix's burly physique and New York accent were equally suited to playing genial lugs and vicious thugs. Bendix was born in midtown Manhattan, the son of musician Oscar Bendix (not violinist/conductor Max Bendix, as is often reported). He made his film debut in 1911, at the age of five, when his father got him a small role in a Lillian Walker film being made at Vitagraph Studios, where the elder Bendix was working as a handyman. The title of this film is lost to time, and Bendix did not appear again before the cameras for 31 years. After dropping out of high school he worked as a bat boy for the New York Giants and Yankees, and claimed to have seen Babe Ruth hit over a hundred home runs. He became interested in the theatre and joined the Henry Street Players, a settlement house company. He also worked as a singing waiter. He married in 1927 and through his new father-in-law got a job managing a grocery in New Jersey. When that business failed, Bendix joined the Federal Theatre Project, which led in turn to work with the Theatre Guild. Bendix made a success in the Guild's production of "The Time of Your Life" as Officer Krupp. He was spotted in the play by Hal Roach, who signed him to a film contract. Within a year he had been nominated for an Academy Award (for Wake Island (1942)) and was firmly established as a major supporting player. He achieved great popularity with the radio show "The Life of Riley", which ran for nine years and then became an equally popular television show (The Life of Riley (1953)). Bendix worked in films, television and radio up until the end of his life, but always claimed the stage was his first love. Following a stomach ailment, Bendix died at 58 from malnutrition and subsequent pneumonia. His wife of 37 years, Theresa Stefanotti, and their two daughters survived him.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Spouse (1)

Teresa Stefanotty Bendix (22 October 1927 - 14 December 1964) ( his death) ( 2 children)

Trivia (18)

Was a descendant of composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. This was revealed on the TV show This Is Your Life (1952); host Ralph Edwards awarded Bendix with a framed document signed by Mendelssohn.
Interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, California, USA.
In 1922, when he was 15, Bendix was a bat boy for the New York Yankees, and became a favorite of Babe Ruth, who entrusted Bendix with various personal errands. Years later, in 1948, Bendix played Ruth in The Babe Ruth Story (1948).
Screen, stage, radio, and television actor.
Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 41-42. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387
Chester A. Riley, Bendix's character on The Life of Riley (1953), was ranked #30 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].
His father was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and a musician who performed in local New York bands. Another relative, Max Bendix, was a violinist who once conducted the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.
Graduated from Public School 5 in the Bronx and attended Townsend Harris High School for a brief spell.
Claims Babe Ruth had an affinity for hot dogs and young Bendix often was called upon to fetch them for him.
As a child he played the son of actress Lillian Walker in a silent film in 1911 (age 5).
Once a member of the Henry Street Players on New York's Lower East side.
Attracted the attention of producer Cheryl Walker in the late 1930s and appeared in six of her productions at the Theatre Guild.
Portraying Chester Riley on the popular "The Life of Riley" radio program from 1944-52, Bendix was initially prevented from recreating his role for TV due to contractual restrictions. Jackie Gleason played the role when the program first aired, but Bendix subsequently took over the part after the show failed to get decent ratings. Gleason's role as Riley lasted one season (The Life of Riley (1949)). Bendix, who starred in the rarely aired big-screen version The Life of Riley (1949), would finally assume the TV role on NBC's The Life of Riley (1953) four years later. The show became a huge success and ran another five seasons. In a similar turn, Bendix replaced Gleason in the Broadway musical "Take Me Along" in 1960.
He was awarded two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio at 1638 Vine St. and for Television at 6251 Hollywood Blvd.
In the summer of 1961 the residents of Aurora East, OH, voted to name the town park after their favorite television performer--William Bendix. He made a personal appearance to dedicate "William Bendix Park".
Was a Boy Scout.
Was a staunch conservative Republican.
Father: Oscar Bendix; Mother: Hilda Carnell.

Personal Quotes (3)

Save a buck or two and keep on acting--that's all there is to it.
I've had a long, varied, pleasant, eventful career. I don't hate anybody and I don't have any bitter thoughts. I started out without any advantages, but I've been lucky and successful and I've had fun.
Films take tremendous pressure off--you can always reshoot a scene. But on the stage you can work with a part, build it from performance to performance.

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