Warren William

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Warren William
Warren William in Goodbye Again trailer.jpg
Born
Warren William Krech

(1894-12-02)December 2, 1894
DiedSeptember 24, 1948(1948-09-24) (aged 53)
Hollywood, California, U.S.
Other namesKing of Pre-Code
Occupationactor
Years active1920–1947
Spouse(s)Helen Barbara Nelson (1923–1948; his death)

Warren William (born Warren William Krech; December 2, 1894 – September 24, 1948) was a Broadway and Hollywood actor, immensely popular during the early 1930s; he was later nicknamed the "King of Pre-Code". He was the first actor to play Perry Mason.

Early life[edit]

Warren William Krech's family originated in Bad Tennstedt, Thuringia, Germany. His grandfather, Ernst Wilhelm Krech (born 1819), fled Germany in 1848 during the Revolution, going first to France and later emigrating to the United States. He wed Mathilde Grow in 1851, and had six children. Freeman E. Krech, Warren's father, was born in 1856. Around the age of 25, Freeman moved to Aitkin, a small town in Minnesota, where he bought a newspaper, The Aitkin Age, in 1885. He married Frances Potter, daughter of a merchant, September 18, 1890. Their son Warren was born December 2, 1894.[1]

Warren William's interest in acting began in 1903, when an opera house was built in Aitkin. He was also an avid and lifelong amateur inventor, a pursuit that may have contributed to his death.[2] After high school, William auditioned for, and was enrolled in, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in New York City in October 1915.[1]

As his senior year at AADA was coming to an end, the United States had entered the First World War, and William enlisted in the United States Army. He was assigned from base to base, in charge of training new men at various locations, and in 1918 was assigned to Fort Dix near New York City, in New Jersey. While in New York, he met his future wife, Helen Barbara Nelson, who was 17 years older than he was.[3] In October 1918 he left for France, to enter the war. William left the army in early 1919, after which he began working on his acting career. In 1923, he and Helen were married.[1]

Career[edit]

Dave the Dude (William) and Apple Annie (May Robson) in Lady for a Day (1933)

William, who appeared in his first Broadway play in 1920, soon made a name for himself in New York, and appeared in more than 20 plays on Broadway between 1920 and 1931. During this period he also appeared in two silent films, The Town That Forgot God (1922)[4] and Plunder (1923).[5]

He moved from New York City to Hollywood in 1931. The Village Voice called him "The King of Pre-Code".[6] He began as a contract player at Warner Bros. and quickly became a star during what is now known as the 'Pre-Code' period. He developed a reputation for portraying ruthless, amoral businessmen (Under 18, Skyscraper Souls, The Match King, Employees' Entrance), crafty lawyers (The Mouthpiece, Perry Mason), and outright charlatans (The Mind Reader).[7] These roles were considered controversial, yet they were highly satisfying. This was the harshest period of the Great Depression, characterized by massive business failures and oppressive unemployment. Movie audiences jeered at the businessmen, who were often portrayed as predators.

William did play some sympathetic roles, including Dave the Dude in Frank Capra's Lady for a Day, and a loving father and husband cuckolded by Ann Dvorak's character in Three on a Match (1932). He was a young songwriter's comically pompous older brother in Golddiggers of 1933. William was Julius Caesar in Cecil B. DeMille's Cleopatra (1934; starring Claudette Colbert in the title role), and with Colbert again the same year as her character's love interest in Imitation of Life (1934). He played the swashbuckling musketeer d'Artagnan in The Man in the Iron Mask (1939), directed by James Whale.[8]

The studios capitalized on William's popularity by placing him in multiple "series" films, particularly as detectives and crime-solvers. William was the first to portray Erle Stanley Gardner's fictional defense attorney Perry Mason on the big screen and starred in four Perry Mason mysteries.[9] He played Raffles-like reformed jewel thief The Lone Wolf in nine films, beginning with The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt (1939), and appeared as Detective Philo Vance in two of the series films,The Dragon Murder Case (1934) and the comedic The Gracie Allen Murder Case (1939). He also starred as Sam Spade (renamed Ted Shane) in Satan Met a Lady (1936), the second screen version of The Maltese Falcon.[10]

Other roles included Mae West's manager in Go West, Young Man (1936), a jealous district attorney in another James Whale film, Wives Under Suspicion (1938), copper-magnate Jesse Lewisohn in 1940's Lillian Russell, the evil Jefferson Carteret in Arizona (also 1940), and sympathetic Dr. Lloyd in The Wolf Man (1941). In 1945, he played Brett Curtis in cult director Edgar G. Ulmer's 1945 modern-day version of Hamlet, called Strange Illusion.[11] In what would be his last film, he played Laroche-Mathieu in The Private Affairs of Bel Ami in 1947.

On radio, William starred in the transcribed series Strange Wills, which featured "stories behind strange wills that run the gamut of human emotion."[12]

Private life and death[edit]

Although on-screen William was an actor audiences loved to hate, off-screen William was a private man, and he and his wife, Helen, kept out of the limelight. Warren and Helen remained a couple throughout his entire adult life. He was often described as having been shy in real life. Co-star Joan Blondell once said, "[He] ... was an old man – even when he was a young man."[9]

Warren William died on September 24, 1948, from multiple myeloma, at age 53. His wife died a few months later.[2] He was recognized for his contribution to motion pictures with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February 1960.[1]

Filmography[edit]

Warren William filmography
Year Title Role Notes
Studio/Distributor
Ref(s)
1923 The Town That Forgot God Eben, the carpenter as Warren Krech (silent film)
Fox Film
[4]
1923 Plunder Mr. Jones as Warren Krech
(15-episode Pearl White silent serial)
George B. Seitz Productions
[5]
1931 Honor of the Family Captain Boris Barony First National Pictures [13]
1931 Expensive Women Neil Hartley Warner Bros. Pictures [14]
1932 Three on a Match Robert Kirkwood First National Pictures [15]
1932 The Dark Horse Hal Samson Blake First National Pictures [16]
1932 Skyscraper Souls David Dwight Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [17]
1932 The Mouthpiece Vincent Day Warner Bros. Pictures [18]
1932 The Match King Paul Kroll First National Pictures [19]
1932 Beauty and the Boss Baron Josef von Ullrich Warner Bros. Pictures [20]
1932 The Woman from Monte Carlo Lieutenant d'Ortelles First National Pictures [21]
1932 Under Eighteen Raymond Harding Warner Bros. Pictures [22]
1933 Goodbye Again Kenneth Bixby First National Pictures [23]
1933 Lady for a Day Dave the Dude Columbia Pictures [24]
1933 The Mind Reader Chandra Chandler First National Pictures [25]
1933 Gold Diggers of 1933 J. Lawrence Bradford Warner Bros. Pictures [26]
1933 Employees' Entrance Kurt Anderson First National Pictures [27]
1933 Just Around the Corner Mr. Sears General Electric promotional short [28]
1934 The Secret Bride Robert Sheldon Warner Bros. Pictures [29]
1934 Cleopatra Julius Caesar Paramount Pictures [30]
1934 Dr. Monica John Braden Warner Bros. Pictures [31]
1934 Smarty Tony Wallace Warner Bros. Pictures [32]
1934 Imitation of Life Stephen Archer Universal Pictures [33]
1934 The Case of the Howling Dog Perry Mason First film depiction of Perry Mason
Warner Bros. Pictures
[34]
1934 The Dragon Murder Case Philo Vance First National Pictures [35]
1934 Bedside Bob Brown First National Pictures [36]
1934 Upper World Alex Stream Warner Bros. Pictures [37]
1935 Living on Velvet Walter "Gibraltar" Pritcham First National Pictures [38]
1935 Don't Bet on Blondes Odds Owen Warner Bros. Pictures [39]
1935 The Case of the Curious Bride Perry Mason First National Pictures [40]
1935 The Case of the Lucky Legs Perry Mason Warner Bros. Pictures [41]
1936 Satan Met a Lady Ted Shane Warner Bros. Pictures [42]
1936 Go West, Young Man Morgan Major Pictures Corp. [43]
1936 The Widow from Monte Carlo Major Allan Chepstow Warner Bros. Pictures [44]
1936 The Case of the Velvet Claws Perry Mason First National Pictures [45]
1936 Times Square Playboy Vic Arnold Warner Bros. Pictures [46]
1936 Stage Struck Fred Harris First National Pictures [47]
1937 Outcast Dr. Wendell Phillips Jones Major Pictures Corp. [48]
1937 Midnight Madonna Blackie Denbo Major Pictures Corp. [49]
1937 Madame X Bernard Fleuriot Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [50]
1937 The Firefly Major de Rouchemont Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [51]
1938 Wives Under Suspicion District Attorney Jim Stowell Universal Pictures [52]
1938 The First Hundred Years Harry Borden Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [53]
1938 Arsène Lupin Returns Steve Emerson Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer [54]
1939 The Gracie Allen Murder Case Philo Vance Paramount Pictures [55]
1939 The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf" Columbia Pictures [56]
1939 Day-Time Wife Bernard Dexter 20th Century Fox [57]
1939 The Man in the Iron Mask d'Artagnan Edward Small Productions [58]
1940 Lillian Russell Jesse Lewisohn 20th Century Fox [59]
1940 Trail of the Vigilantes Mark Dawson Universal Pictures [60]
1940 The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf" Columbia Pictures [61]
1940 The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf" Columbia Pictures [62]
1940 The Lone Wolf Strikes Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf" Columbia Pictures [63]
1940 Arizona Jefferson Carteret Columbia Pictures [64]
1941 The Wolf Man Dr. Lloyd Universal Pictures [65]
1941 The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf" Columbia Pictures [66]
1941 Secrets of the Lone Wolf Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf" Columbia Pictures [67]
1941 Wild Geese Calling Blackie Bedford 20th Century Fox [68]
1942 Counter-Espionage Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf" Columbia Pictures [69]
1942 Wild Bill Hickok Rides Harry Farrel Warner Bros. Pictures [70]
1943 One Dangerous Night Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf" Columbia Pictures [71]
1943 Passport to Suez Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf" Columbia Pictures [72]
1945 Strange Illusion Brett Curtis Producers Releasing Corporation [73]
1946 Fear Police Capt. Burke Monogram Pictures [74]
1947 The Private Affairs of Bel Ami Laroche-Mathieu Loew-Lewin, Inc./United Artists [75]

Stage[edit]

Note: The list below is limited to New York/Broadway theatrical productions; listed as Warren William, except where noted

Broadway credits of Warren William
Production run Title Role Notes Ref(s)
Mar 29, 1920 - May 1920 Mrs. Jimmie Thompson Edgar Blodgett as Warren W. Krech [76]
Jan 24, 1921 - Jan 1921 John Hawthorne John Hawthorne as Warren W. Krech [77]
Nov 09, 1921 - Nov 1921 We Girls Doctor Tom Brown as Warren W. Krech [78]
Feb 12, 1924 - Apr 1924 The Wonderful Visit Sir John Gotch, K.B.E. [79]
Apr 16, 1924 - Jun 1924 Expressing Willie George Cadwalader [80]
Feb 16, 1925 - Feb 1925 Nocturne Keith Reddington [81]
Mar 24, 1925 - Apr 1925 The Blue Peter David Hunter [82]
May 05, 1925 - May 1925 Rosmersholm Johannes Rosmer [83]
Nov 16, 1925 - Apr 1926 Twelve Miles Out Gerald Fey [84]
Mar 18, 1926 - Apr 1926 Easter One More Day Elis [85]
Sep 21, 1926 - Nov 1926 Fanny Joe White Starring Fanny Brice [86]
Dec 26, 1927 - Jan 1928 Paradise Dr. Achilles Swain [87]
Mar 13, 1928 - Mar 1928 Veils Mr. Robert Sloan [88]
Apr 24, 1928 - Apr 1928 The Golden Age The Stranger [89]
Dec 11, 1928 - Jan 1929 Sign of the Leopard Captain Leslie [90]
Feb 19, 1929 - Dec 1929 Let Us Be Gay Bob Brown Replaced by Barry O'Neill for unknown number of performances [91]
Oct 22, 1929 - Oct 1929 Week-End Brett Laney [92]
Feb 08, 1930 - Feb 1930 Out of a Blue Sky Paul Rana [93]
May 12, 1930 - May 1930 The Vikings Sigurd [94]
Oct 06, 1930 - Oct 1930 Stepdaughters of War Geoffrey Hilder [95]
Nov 19, 1930 - Jun 1931 The Vinegar Tree Max Lawrence [96]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Warren William". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2015-03-09.
  2. ^ a b Stangeland, John (2010). Warren William: Magnificent Scoundrel of Pre-Code Hollywood. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-6182-0.
  3. ^ https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/107876177/Helen-Barbara-William
  4. ^ a b "The Town That Forgot God". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  5. ^ a b "Plunder". www.silentera.com. Silent Era : Progressive Silent Film List. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  6. ^ Hoberman, J. (July 20, 2011). "Warren William: As Titan of Industry, King of Pre-Code | The Village Voice". www.villagevoice.com. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  7. ^ "Mind reader". UCLA Film Library. UCLA. 1933. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  8. ^ "The Man in the Iron Mask". UCLA Film Library. UCLA. 1939. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  9. ^ a b Fristoe, Roger. "William Warren Profile". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2015-03-09.
  10. ^ Dieterle, William; Hammett, Dashiell (1936). "Satan Met a Lady". UCLA Film and Television Arvhive. UCLA.
  11. ^ "Strange Illusion (1945) - Overview - TCM.com". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved June 9, 2020.
  12. ^ "(Teleways ad)" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 21, 1946. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Honor of the Family". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  14. ^ "Expensive Women". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  15. ^ "Three on a Match". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  16. ^ "The Dark Horse". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  17. ^ "Skyscraper Souls". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  18. ^ "The Mouthpiece". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  19. ^ "The Match King". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  20. ^ "Beauty and the Boss". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  21. ^ "The Woman from Monte Carlo". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  22. ^ "Under Eighteen". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  23. ^ "Goodbye Again". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  24. ^ "Lady for a Day". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  25. ^ "The Mind Reader". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  26. ^ "Gold Diggers of 1933". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  27. ^ "Employees' Entrance". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  28. ^ "Just Around the Corner (1933)". Letterboxd Limited. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  29. ^ "The Secret Bride". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  30. ^ "Cleopatra". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  31. ^ "Dr. Monica". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  32. ^ "Smarty". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  33. ^ "Imitation of Life". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  34. ^ "The Case of the Howling Dog". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  35. ^ "The Dragon Murder Case". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  36. ^ "Bedside". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  37. ^ "Upper World". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  38. ^ "Living on Velvet". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  39. ^ "Don't Bet on Blondes". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  40. ^ "The Case of the Curious Bride". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  41. ^ "The Case of the Lucky Legs". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  42. ^ "Satan Met a Lady". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  43. ^ "Go West, Young Man". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  44. ^ "The Widow from Monte Carlo". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  45. ^ "The Case of the Velvet Claws". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  46. ^ "Times Square Playboy". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  47. ^ "Stage Struck". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  48. ^ "Outcast". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  49. ^ "Midnight Madonna". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  50. ^ "Madame X". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  51. ^ "The Firefly". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  52. ^ "Wives Under Suspicion". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  53. ^ "The First Hundred Years". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  54. ^ "Arsène Lupin Returns". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  55. ^ "The Gracie Allen Murder Case". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  56. ^ "The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  57. ^ "Day-Time Wife". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  58. ^ "Day-Time Wife". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  59. ^ "Lillian Russell". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  60. ^ "Trail of the Vigilantes". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  61. ^ "The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  62. ^ "The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  63. ^ "The Lone Wolf Strikes". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  64. ^ "Arizona". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  65. ^ "The Wolf Man". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  66. ^ "The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  67. ^ "Secrets of the Lone Wolf". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  68. ^ "Wild Geese Calling". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  69. ^ "Counter-Espionage". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  70. ^ "Wild Bill Hickok Rides". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  71. ^ "One Dangerous Night". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  72. ^ "Passport to Suez". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  73. ^ "Strange Illusion". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  74. ^ "Fear". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  75. ^ "The Private Affairs of Bel Ami". catalog.afi.com. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  76. ^ "Mrs. Jimmie Thompson". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  77. ^ "John Hawthorne". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  78. ^ "We Girls". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  79. ^ "The Wonderful Visit". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  80. ^ "Expressing Willie". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  81. ^ "Nocturne". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  82. ^ "The Blue Peter". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  83. ^ "Rosmersholm". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  84. ^ "Twelve Miles Out". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  85. ^ "Easter One More Day". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  86. ^ "Fanny". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  87. ^ "Paradise". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  88. ^ "Veils". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  89. ^ "The Golden Age". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  90. ^ "Sign of the Leopard". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  91. ^ "Let Us Be Gay". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.; "Let Us Be Gay". AFI|Catalog. AFI. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  92. ^ "Week-End". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  93. ^ "Out of a Blue Sky". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  94. ^ "The Vikings". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  95. ^ "Stepdaughters of War". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  96. ^ "The Vinegar Tree". IBDB. Retrieved June 8, 2020.

External links[edit]