Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Born Today April 26: Guinn "Big Boy" Williams


1899-1962

Western star Guinn "Big Boy" Williams was born Guinn Terrell Williams Jr. on this date in Decatur, Texas.  He was given the nickname "Big Boy" by none other than Will Rogers himself, because of his height, 6'2".  Before going into the movie industry he served in World War I.  His father, a congressman, wanted him to attend West Point after the war, but Williams wanted to become a baseball player instead. And he would go on to play semi-professionally.  He was instead introduced to the motion picture industry by Rogers (who also made a competent polo player out of him).  His film debut came in 1919 with Almost A Husband, a Will Rogers comedy.  Precisely because he was introduced to films by Rogers, he became a specialist in westerns almost immediately.  But he did have some notable roles in other genres as well, and was often one of two sidekicks in Errol Flynn films, the other being Alan Hale, Sr..  By 1921, he was getting bigger and bigger roles, with his first credit as Guinn "Big Boy" Williams in The Jack Rider, a comedic western that he also wrote.  After this point, he frequently wrote stories specifically to be turned into film scripts which would star himself.  All of these were westerns.  The first film that he acted in that had sound was Beggars Of Life (1928) a partial silent with sound sequences by MovieTone.  The first sound film he had a part in also came in 1928, with the huge Zanuck/Curtiz epic Noah's Ark.  It turned out that Will Rogers had a good eye for talent, Williams had acting prowess and made the transition to sound with relative ease.  He made his television debut in 1955 in the series The Adventures Of Wild Bill Hickok.  It is often written that his last role also came in a Michael Curtiz film, The Comancheros in 1961, but in fact it was in a widely over-looked little TV film called Buttons And Her Beaus, a failed television pilot in 1962.  Williams died suddenly from a rapid on-set of Uremic Poisoning on the 6th of June in 1962, he was 63 years old.  He is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial.



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