Warren William

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Warren William
Warren William in Goodbye Again trailer.jpg
from the trailer for the film Goodbye Again (1933)
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 (19231948; 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".

Broadway theatre class of professional theater presented in New York City, New York, USA

Broadway theatre, also known simply as Broadway, refers to the theatrical performances presented in the 41 professional theatres, each with 500 or more seats located in the Theater District and Lincoln Center along Broadway, in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Along with London's West End theatre, Broadway theatre is widely considered to represent the highest level of commercial theatre in the English-speaking world.

Hollywood Neighborhood of Los Angeles in California, United States

Hollywood is a neighborhood in the central region of Los Angeles, California, notable as the home of the U.S. film industry, including several of its historic studios. Its name has come to be a shorthand reference for the industry and the people associated with it.

Actor person who acts in a dramatic or comic production and works in film, television, theatre, or radio

An actor is a person who portrays a character in a performance. The actor performs "in the flesh" in the traditional medium of the theatre or in modern media such as film, radio, and television. The analogous Greek term is ὑποκριτής (hupokritḗs), literally "one who answers". The actor's interpretation of their role—the art of acting—pertains to the role played, whether based on a real person or fictional character. Interpretation occurs even when the actor is "playing themselves", as in some forms of experimental performance art.

Contents

Early life

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.

Bad Tennstedt Place in Thuringia, Germany

Bad Tennstedt is a town in the Unstrut-Hainich-Kreis district, in Thuringia, Germany. It is situated 27 km east of Mühlhausen, and 24 km northwest of Erfurt.

German revolutions of 1848–49 German part of the Revolutions of 1848

The German revolutions of 1848–49, the opening phase of which was also called the March Revolution, were initially part of the Revolutions of 1848 that broke out in many European countries. They were a series of loosely coordinated protests and rebellions in the states of the German Confederation, including the Austrian Empire. The revolutions, which stressed pan-Germanism, demonstrated popular discontent with the traditional, largely autocratic political structure of the thirty-nine independent states of the Confederation that inherited the German territory of the former Holy Roman Empire.

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.

Aitkin, Minnesota City in Minnesota, United States

Aitkin is a city in Aitkin County, Minnesota, United States. The population was 2,165 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Aitkin County.

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. [1] After high school, William auditioned for, and was enrolled in, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) in New York City in October 1915. [2]

American Academy of Dramatic Arts drama school

The American Academy of Dramatic Arts (AADA) is a two-year performing arts conservatory, with two locations: 120 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, and at 1336 North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles. The Academy offers an associate degree in occupational studies, and teaches drama and related arts in the areas of theater, film, and television. Students also have the opportunity to audition for the third-year theater company. Students can usually transfer completed credits to a 4-year college or university to finish a bachelor's degree if they choose. Many well-known stars, from the past and the present, made their start at the academy.

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 his senior. 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.

United States in World War I

The United States declared war on Germany on April 6, 1917, more than two and a half years after World War I started. A ceasefire and Armistice was declared on November 11, 1918. Before entering the war, the U.S. had remained neutral, though it had been an important supplier to Great Britain and the other Allied powers.

United States Army Land warfare branch of the United States Armed Forces

The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.

Fort Dix census-designated place in New Jersey, United States

Fort Dix, the common name for the Army Support Activity located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, is a United States Army post. It is located approximately 16.1 miles (25.9 km) south-southeast of Trenton, New Jersey. Fort Dix is under the jurisdiction of the Air Force Air Mobility Command. As of the 2010 United States Census, Fort Dix census-designated place (CDP) had a total population of 7,716, of which 5,951 were in New Hanover Township, 1,765 were in Pemberton Township and none were in Springfield Township.

Career

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

William appeared in his first Broadway play in 1920, and had soon made a name for himself in New York. William appeared in 22 plays on Broadway between 1920 and 1931. During this period he also appeared in two silent films, The Town That Forgot God (1922) and Plunder (1923).

William moved from New York City to Hollywood in 1931. 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). These roles were considered controversial yet they were highly satisfying, as this was the harshest period of the Great Depression, characterised by massive business failures and oppressive unemployment; hence audiences tended to jeer the businessmen, who were portrayed as predators. [2]

New York City Largest city in the United States

The City of New York, usually called either New York City (NYC) or simply New York (NY), is the most populous city in the United States. With an estimated 2018 population of 8,398,748 distributed over a land area of about 302.6 square miles (784 km2), New York is also the most densely populated major city in the United States. Located at the southern tip of the state of New York, the city is the center of the New York metropolitan area, the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass and one of the world's most populous megacities, with an estimated 19,979,477 people in its 2018 Metropolitan Statistical Area and 22,679,948 residents in its Combined Statistical Area. A global power city, New York City has been described as the cultural, financial, and media capital of the world, and exerts a significant impact upon commerce, entertainment, research, technology, education, politics, tourism, art, fashion, and sports. The city's fast pace has inspired the term New York minute. Home to the headquarters of the United Nations, New York is an important center for international diplomacy.

Warner Bros. American entertainment company

Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc., commonly referred to as Warner Bros. and abbreviated as WB, is an American entertainment company headquartered in Burbank, California and a subsidiary of AT&T's WarnerMedia. Founded in 1923, it has operations in film, television and video games and is one of the "Big Five" major American film studios, as well as a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

<i>Skyscraper Souls</i> 1932 film by Edgar Selwyn

Skyscraper Souls is a 1932 American pre-Code romantic drama film starring Warren William, Anita Page, Maureen O'Sullivan, Gregory Ratoff, and Verree Teasdale. Directed by Edgar Selwyn, the film is based on the 1931 novel Skyscraper by Faith Baldwin.

William did play some sympathetic roles, including Dave the Dude in Frank Capra's Lady for a Day , a loving father and husband cuckolded by Ann Dvorak's character in Three on a Match (1932), a young songwriter's comically pompous older brother in Golddiggers of 1933 , 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.

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. [3] 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 .

Other roles include 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 . 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." [4]

Death

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." [3]

Warren William died on September 24, 1948, from multiple myeloma, at age 53. His wife would die a few months later. [1] He was recognized for his contribution to motion pictures with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in February 1960. [5]

Filmography

YearTitleRoleNotes
1922 The Town That Forgot God Eben
1923 Plunder Mr. JonesSerial
1931 Honor of the Family Captain Boris Barony
Expensive WomenNeil Hartley
Under Eighteen Raymond Harding
1932The Woman from Monte CarloLieutenant d'Ortelles
Beauty and the Boss Baron Josef von Ullrich
The Mouthpiece Vincent "Vince" Day
The Dark Horse Hal Samson Blake
Skyscraper Souls David "Dave" Dwight
Three on a Match Robert Kirkwood
The Match King Paul Kroll
1933 Employees' Entrance Kurt Anderson
The Mind Reader "Chandra" Chandler
Gold Diggers of 1933 J. Lawrence Bradford
Goodbye Again Kenneth L. "Ken" Bixby
Lady for a Day Dave the Dude
Just Around the CornerMr. SearsShort
1934 Bedside Bob Brown
Upper World Alexander "Alex" Stream
Smarty Tony Wallace
Dr. Monica John Braden
The Dragon Murder Case Philo Vance
The Case of the Howling Dog Perry Mason
Cleopatra Julius Caesar
Imitation of Life Stephen "Steve" Archer
The Secret Bride Robert "Bob" Sheldon
1935 Living on Velvet Walter "Gibraltar" Pritcham
The Case of the Curious Bride Perry Mason
Don't Bet on Blondes Oscar "Odds" Owen
The Case of the Lucky Legs Perry Mason
The Widow from Monte Carlo Major Allan Chepstow
1936 Times Square Playboy Victor "Vic" Arnold
Satan Met a Lady Ted Shane
The Case of the Velvet Claws Perry Mason
Stage Struck Fred Harris
Go West, Young Man Morgan
1937 Outcast Dr. Wendell Phillips / Phil Jones
Midnight Madonna Blackie Denbo
The Firefly Colonel de Rouchemont
Madame X Bernard Fleuriot
1938 Arsène Lupin Returns Steve Emerson
The First Hundred Years Harry Borden
Wives Under Suspicion District Attorney Jim Stowell
1939 The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt Michael Lanyard / "The Lone Wolf"
The Gracie Allen Murder Case Philo Vance
The Man in the Iron Mask d'Artagnan
Day-Time Wife Bernard "Barney" Dexter
1940 The Lone Wolf Meets a Lady Michael Lanyard
Lillian Russell Jesse Lewisohn
The Lone Wolf Strikes Michael Lanyard
Arizona Jefferson Carteret
The Lone Wolf Keeps a Date Michael Lanyard
Trail of the Vigilantes Mark Dawson / George Trent
1941 The Lone Wolf Takes a Chance Michael Lanyard
Wild Geese Calling Blackie Bedford
Secrets of the Lone Wolf Michael Lanyard
The Wolf Man Dr. Lloyd
1942 Wild Bill Hickok Rides Harry Farrel
Counter-Espionage Michael Lanyard
1943 One Dangerous Night
Passport to Suez
1945 Strange Illusion Brett Curtis
1946 Fear Police Capt. Burke
1947 The Private Affairs of Bel Ami Laroche-Mathieu(final film role)

Broadway performances

YearTitleRole
1920Mrs. Jimmie ThompsonEdgar Blodgett
1921John HawthorneJohn Hawthorne
We GirlsDoctor Tom Brown
1924 The Wonderful Visit Sir John Gotch, K.B.E.
Expressing WillieGeorge Cadwalder
1925NoctureKeith Reddington
The Blue PeterDavid Hunter
Rosmersholm Johannes Rosmer
1926Twelve Miles OutGerald Fey
Easter One More DayElis
FannyJoe White
1928ParadiseDr. Achilles Swain
VeilsMr. Robert Sloan
The Golden AgeThe Stranger
1929Sign of the LeopardCaptain Leslie
Let Us Be Gay Bob Brown
Week-EndBrett Laney
1930Out of a Blue SkyPaul Rana
The VikingsSigurd
Stepdaughters of WarGeoffrey Hilder
1930-1931 The Vinegar Tree Max Lawrence

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References

  1. 1 2 Stangeland, John (2010). Warren William: Magnificent Scoundrel of Pre-Code Hollywood. McFarland. ISBN   978-0-7864-6182-0.
  2. 1 2 Wagner, Laura (March 8, 2013). "Book Points: January 2013". Classic Images. Retrieved 2015-03-09.
  3. 1 2 Fristoe, Roger. "William Warren Profile". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved 2015-03-09.
  4. "(Teleways ad)" (PDF). Broadcasting. October 21, 1946. Retrieved 1 September 2015.
  5. "Warren William". Hollywood Walk of Fame. Hollywood Chamber of Commerce. Retrieved 2015-03-09.