• 5 January 1911
  •  Ogden, Utah, USA

William Wright


Handsome actor William Wright's mid-film 1940s career was pushed with a wave of Columbia Studio publicity promoting him as World War II's answer to Clark Gable. The push ultimately did not work and Wright's rather obscure career faded within a decade. The Utah-born actor moved to California after his schooling and studied at the Pasadena Playhouse. His film debut came about with the small role of a pilot in China Clipper (1936). Groomed in uncredited and featured roles for both large (Paramount) and small (Monogram) studios, his more visible work in Rookies on Parade (1941), World Premiere (1941), The Devil Pays Off (1941) and Glamour Boy (1941) eventually led to a Columbia contract in 1942. The handsome, dapper, mustachioed Wright proved reliable and lent a smooth air to his "B" series mixed bag of heroes and villains. Throughout the war-era he supported in such Columbia films as Not a Ladies' Man (1942), Night in New Orleans (1942), Sweetheart of the Fleet (1942) and Lucky Legs (1942) before earning his first co-star role opposite Marguerite Chapman in Parachute Nurse (1942) and A Man's World (1942). Wright continued reliably in a variety of parts. He was a major suspect in the two of the "Boston Blackie" series entitled Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood (1942) and One Mysterious Night (1944), and romanced Ann Miller in Reveille with Beverly (1943) and, despite she overshadowed him with her dance routines, reteamed with her again in both Eadie Was a Lady (1945) and Eve Knew Her Apples (1945). He also was fourth billed as a detective in Murder in Times Square (1943) which reunited him with Marguerite Chapman, played a slick-haired villain in the western Saddles and Sagebrush (1943) with Ann Savage and played alongside her again in Dancing in Manhattan (1944). Appearing in Escape in the Fog (1945) opposite Nina Foch, he pursued Martha O'Driscoll in the western Down Missouri Way (1946). Wright's leading man status would wane in the late 1940s with secondary roles for "Poverty Row" studios in Lover Come Back (1946) and The Beginning or the End (1947). What didn't help was a chronic problem with alcohol. Wright did manage to play the lead supersleuth Philo Vance in the cheapjack production of Philo Vance Returns (1947), however, and co-starred in such cheapies as King of the Gamblers (1948)) and Rose of the Yukon (1949). His last release was for Columbia playing a second lead alongside Marjorie Lord in Air Hostess (1949). Whether Wright could have progressed into unctuous character roles would never be known as he died of cancer at age 38. Although performing right up until the end, his death was generally overlooked.


Movie Name Release Date
Impact (1949) April 1, 1949