Thursday, December 11, 2008
Classic Movie Star - WILLIAM BENDIX
William Bendix, an American film actor was born on January 14th, 1906, in Manhattan, New York. As a youth in the early 1920's, Bendix was a batboy for the New York Yankees and said that he saw Babe Ruth hit more than a hundred home runs at Yankee Stadium. In 1927 he married Theresa Stefanotti.
Bendix worked as a grocer until the Great Depression, before making his film debut in 1942. He played in supporting roles in dozens of Hollywood films, usually as a soldier, gangster, or detective. He started with appearances in film noir films including a memorable performance in "The Glass Key" (1942), which also featured Brian Donlevy and Veronica Lake. He soon gained more attention after appearing in Alfred Hitchcocks "Lifeboat" (1944), as Gus, a wounded and dying American sailor. Bendix's other well known movie roles include his protrayal of baseball-player Babe Ruth in "The Babe Ruth Story" (1948) and Sir Sagramore opposite Bing Crosby in "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" (1949). He also played Nick the bartender in the 1948 film version of William Saroyan's "The Time of Your Life" starring James Cagney.
Bendix was also well known in that era for his radio work, starring as "Chester A. Riley" in the radio situation comedy series "The Life of Riley" from 1944 through 1951. He also played the title role in the second television version of the series, which ran from 1953 to 1958 (Jackie Gleason played Riley in a short-lived 1949 version).
On the 1952 television program "This is Your Life", it was claimed that he was a descendant of the 19th century composer Felix Mendelssohn.
Bendix died at the age of 58 in Los Angeles from lobar pneumonia in 1964 and was interred there in the San Fernando Mission Cementery. Bendix was survived by his wife Theresa and two children (Lorraine and Stephanie) from their 37 year marriage.