Oscar Actors: Bendix, William

William Bendix was born in New York City on January 4, 1906; he died in 1964.

The son of Max Bendix, conductor and violinist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, William appeared in a Vitagraph film as a fiveyearold child. He later played minor league baseball, managed a grocery store in Newark, N.J., and was with the New Jersey Federal Theater before joining the New York Theater Guild. Made his Broadway debut as an Irish cop in William Saroyan's The Time of Your Life in 1939.

Bendix began a prolific Hollywood career in 1942 and was promptly nominated for a best supporting actor Academy Award for the war movie, “Wake Island.”

But despite a long succession of imposing film roles he remains best known to many for his weekly “Life of Riley” show, first on radio, then on TV. Largeskulled and heavy jawed, he typically played either dumb and brutish of kindly but simple characters.

Bendix's memorable films include his starring rile in “The Hairy Ape” and “The Babe Ruth Story” and appearances in “Lifeboat” and “A Bell for Adano,” as well as his several appearances in Alan Ladd action vehicles.

Oscar Alert

In 1942, William Bendix competed for the Supporting Actor Oscar with Van Heflin in “Johnny Eager” (who won), Walter Huston in “Yankee Doodle Dandy,” Frank Morgan in “Tortilla Flat,” and Henry Travers in “Mrs. Miniver.”