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William Bendix

William Bendix

As a child he played the son of actress Lillian Walker in a silent film in 1911 (age 5).

Bendix was a descendant of composer Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy. This was revealed on TV show "This Is Your Life" (1952); host Ralph Edwards awarded Bendix with a framed document signed by Mendelssohn.

Biography in: "Who's Who in Comedy" by Ronald L. Smith. pg. 41-42. New York: Facts on File, 1992. ISBN 0816023387

Chester A. Riley, Bendix's character on "The Life of Riley" (1953), was ranked #30 in TV Guide's list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" [20 June 2004 issue].

Claims Babe Ruth had an affinity for hot dogs and young Bendix often was called upon to fetch them for him.



Graduated from Public School 5 in the Bronx and attended Townsend Harris High School for a brief spell.

He attracted the attention of producer Cheryl Walker in the late 1930s and appeared in six of her productions at the Theatre Guild.

He was awarded two Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Radio at 1638 Vine Street and for Television at 6251 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, California.

His father was a veteran of the Spanish-American War and a musician who performed in local New York bands. Another relative, Max Bendix, was a violinist who once conducted the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra.

In 1922, when he was 15, Bendix was a bat boy for the New York Yankees, and became a favorite of Babe Ruth, who entrusted Bendix with various personal errands. Years later, in 1948, Bendix played Ruth in The Babe Ruth Story (1948).

In the summer of 1961 the residents of Aurora East, Ohio, voted to name the town park after their favorite television performer, William Bendix. He made a personal appearance to dedicate "William Bendix Park".

Interred at San Fernando Mission Cemetery, Mission Hills, California, USA.

Once a member of the Henry Street Players on New York's Lower East side.

Portraying Chester Riley on the popular "The Life of Riley" radio program from 1944-1952, Bendix was initially prevented from recreating his role for TV due to contractual restrictions. Jackie Gleason played the role when the program first aired, but Bendix subsequently took over the part after the show failed to get decent ratings. Gleason's role as Riley lasted one season ("The Life of Riley" (1949)). Bendix, who starred in the rarely aired big-screen version The Life of Riley (1949), would finally assume the TV role on NBC's "The Life of Riley" (1953) four years later. The show became a huge success and ran another five seasons. In a similar turn, Bendix replaced Gleason in the Broadway musical "Take Me Along" in 1960.

Screen, stage, radio, and television actor.


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