The guy above was an enormously versatile actor given the premise of ‘working stiff’ roles. William Bendix starred in many movies and on tv.
But perhaps his most memorable role was in Alfred Hitchcock’s rescue-at-sea drama in Lifeboat. Ben played an earthy grunt who loses his marbles as the unforgiving sun and the ensuing thirst take their tolls on a boatload of World War II shipwreck survivors.
Bendix also excelled in roles as varied as a stalwart baseball figure and as a corrupt detective. With that mugg, he was a natural. Talent was an added advantage.
Now to the answers to your William Bendix Quiz:
1) Question: Growing up in Manhattan, Bendix worked as a bat boy for both the New York Yankees and Giants. He claimed he fetched hot dogs for which one of the following players? a) Hack Wilson; b) Bill Dickey; c) Lou Gehrig; or d) Babe Ruth.
Answer: d) Babe Ruth.
2) Question: Bendix was nominated for a best supporting actor Oscar for which one of the following movies? a) 1942’s Wake Island; b) 1944’s Lifeboat; c) 1944’s The Hairy Ape; or d) 1946’s Two Years Before The Mast.
Answer: a) Wake Island. Bendix was a natural for war movies.
3) Question: Bendix’ appearance in Hitchcock’s Lifeboat was important for a special reason apart from the actor’s first rate performance. Can you guess what it is?
Answer: Bendix’ character reads a newspaper ad showing a figure that looks remarkably like director Hitchcock, who often appeared in cameos in his pictures.
4) Question: Bendix costarred with Robert Mitchum in which one of the following, directed by von Sternberg? a) 1950’s Kill The Umpire; b) 1946’s The Blue Dahlia; c) 1952’s Macao; or d) 1951’s Detective Story.
Answer: c) Macao.
5) Question: Bendix achieved national popularity for his ingratiating tv performance as Chester A. Riley on the long running series, The Life of Riley. But he was not the first actor to play the role. Who was? a) George C. Scott; b) Jackie Gleason; c) William Frawley; or d) Art Carney.
Answer: b) Jackie Gleason.
6) Question: Despite its popularity first on radio and then tv, The Life of Riley never made it with Bendix to the big screen? a) True; or b) False?
Answer: b) False. Bendix played the title role in director Irving Brecher’s 1949 film, The Life of Riley.
7) Question: Bendix played some mean dudes in several film noirs. Which of the following did he punch out most in these pictures? a) Ronald Colman; b) Alan Ladd; c) Victor Mature; or d) Robert Mitchum.
Answer: d) Probably Robert Mitchum. Bendix also traded onscreen punches with Ladd. The two were offscreen friends for a long period, but eventually experienced a split after a personal falling out. Check out the two in 1945’s The Blue Dahlia.
8) Question: Although he wasn’t that much of a looker, Bendix got around the Hollywood starlet circuit quite a bit, and dated many an A-list glamour puss. a) True; or b) False.
Answer: b) False. Bendix died young in 1964 at age 58, and was married to his lone wife, Teresa, for 37 of those years.
9) Question: Bendix effectively played a ex-G.I. with serious mental problems in which one of the following pictures? a) The Blue Dahlia; b) 1954’s Dangerous Mission; c) 1949’s The Big Steal; or d) 1943’s Guadalcanal Diary.
Answer: c) The Big Steal.
10) Question: Who “discovered” Bendix and brought him to Hollywood? a) Darryl Zanuck; b) Harry Cohn; c) Jack Warner; or d) Hal Roach.
Answer: d) Hal Roach.