Chill Wills

Chill Wills

Seagoville, Dallas County, Texas, USA
Death 15 Dec 1978 (aged 76)
Encino, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Burial Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA
Plot Garden of Devotion, Tier C, Grave 27
Memorial ID 6090 · View Source
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Actor. He is best remembered for his numerous western character roles in film and on television. His distinct, gravelly voice made him stand out in virtually every appearance. Born in Seagoville, Texas, he was named Chill as a comment of his birthday being the hottest day of 1903. A musician in his youth, he performed in tent shows, in vaudeville, and with stock companies at age 12, before forming his own musical band, the "Avalon Boys". During a performance at the Trocadero Club in Hollywood, an RKO executive spotted them, and soon they were appearing in low budget western films. After appearing as himself with the "Avalon Boys" and as the bass-singing voice of Stan Laurel in the Laurel and Hardy comedy, "Way Out West" (1937), Wills disbanded his group and went out on his own, usually playing a character actor in westerns. A slender, homey looking man in his youth, during the 1940s and 1950s, he steadily gained weight as his roles became more obnoxious or vicious. He was effective in the role of 'Uncle Benedict' in the James Dean film, "Giant" (1956), and played the voice of 'Francis the Talking Mule' in all of the "Francis" series of movies. In 1960, he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as 'Beekeeper' in "The Alamo" (1960), but his open and blatant campaigning for the award cost him the Oscar and probably several good movie roles. Despite this self-inflicted setback, he continued to make movies and work in television shows up until his death in 1978. He costarred in two television series, "Frontier Circus" (1961) and "The Rounders" (1967). He died of cancer in December 1978 in Encino, California.

Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 10 Aug 1999
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6090
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Chill Wills (18 Jul 1902–15 Dec 1978), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6090, citing Grand View Memorial Park and Crematory, Glendale, Los Angeles County, California, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .