Warren William

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Warren William (born December 2, 1895 in Aitkin , Minnesota , † September 24, 1948 in Encino , California ; actually Warren William Krech ) was an American actor . He reached the peak of his career in the early 1930s when he regularly played tough and unscrupulous businessmen during the Great Depression . He is also called the "King of Pre-Code ".


Warren William was born the son of a publisher, his grandfather Ernst Wilhelm Krech originally came from Tennstedt in Thuringia. He initially wanted to become a journalist, but dropped that plan and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts to become an actor. During the First World War William served as a soldier in France and after the war he joined a French theater company. In the 1920s he starred in a few silent films, but mostly in 20 plays between 1920 and 1931 on Broadway in New York. William made the leap to sound film with Honor of the Family in 1931, and in a short span of time in the following years he became a major star in Hollywood : During the pre-code era in the early 1930s, spicy topics such as sexuality were often discussed , Violence and addictions. In these films, William was mostly seen in the role of tough and amoral businessmen, lawyers and gangsters. A good example of typical Williams roles is the sadistic CEO from Employees' Entrance , who leads his company through the Great Depression with almost brutal methods .

Because of these appearances, William was soon given the name "King of Pre-Code". Occasionally, he also played more sympathetic roles, such as a friendly Gangster "Dave the Duke" in the comedy Lady for a Day as well as Julius Caesar in the historical film Cleopatra (1934) next to Claudette Colbert , with whom he in the same year in Imitation of Life should work together . In addition, William was seen in some Whodunit films as an investigative detective or as a shady suspect. Concerning his looks and characters, Joan Blondell said of William: “He was an old man even when he was young.” Mae West , in her always cynical way, of his looks: “His mother would have thrown him away and kept the stork should. ”With the end of the pre-code in the mid-1930s, Williams’s star also declined and he only got leading roles in B-thrillers , while he mostly had to be content with supporting roles in larger films. His later more significant films included The Man in the Iron Mask (1939), starring William as Charles d'Artagnan, and the role of a scientist in The Wolf Man (1941). In 1947 he made the last of his 65 films.

Personal life and honors

In 1923 the actor married the much older Helen Barbara Nelson, with whom he remained married until his death. In contrast to his often unscrupulous characters on the canvas, William was often described as friendly and shy. In 1948, Warren William died of cancer in Encino, aged 52, and his wife died just months later. William's ashes were scattered in Long Island Sound .

A star is dedicated to him on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1559 Vine Street.

Filmography (selection)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ John Stangeland: Warren William: Magnificent Scoundrel of Pre-Code Hollywood, p. 5
  2. HB Nelson's grave

Web links

Commons : Warren William  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files