I'm surprised that nobody has mentioned the passing of William Reynolds, agent Tom Colby on "The F.B.I" from 1966 to 1973 (though he returned for one episode in the series' ninth and final season, one of which was the series' final episode, "The Animal"). He died 8/24.
At the age of 20, William Reynolds made his screen acting debut in the 1951 comedy-drama DEAR BRAT, under his birth name of William Regnolds. The film was the third and final installment in Paramount's "Dear Ruth" series. The first two—DEAR RUTH (1947) and DEAR WIFE (1949)—starred Joan Caulfield as "Ruth Wilkins Seacroft" and William Holden as "Bill Seacroft.” In DEAR BRAT, Ruth and Bill are mentioned in the dialogue, but not seen.
In the film, “Miriam Wilkins” (Mona Freeman), the teenage daughter of “Senator Harry Wilkins” (Edward Arnold); her boyfriend, “Robbie Clark” (William Reynolds), and friend “Clara” (Patty Lou Arden) are the founders and sole members of the Oakmont College Society for the Rehabilitation of Criminals, and have elected Miriam’s father, a former judge, their honorary president. Miriam uses her father’s name to gain access to files of prisoners she regards as “social unfortunates” and discovers that “Harry Baxter” (Lyle Bettger), whom her father sentenced to prison for possession of a deadly weapon, intent to kill, and kidnapping his own daughter, is about to be paroled.
William A. Seiter directed the film, which has an unreleased score by Nathan Van Cleave. DEAR BRAT grossed just $2.2 million, less than half of the $4.8 million that DEAR WIFE had taken in, thus causing an end to the “Dear Ruth” series.
THE DESERT FOX was the story of the final years of the respected World War II German general, Field Marshal “Erwin Rommel” (James Mason). The film followed his career after the Afrika Korps, including his work on the defenses of Fortress Europe as well as his part in the assassination attempt on Hitler. William Reynolds had a small role in the film playing Rommel’s son “Manfred.”
William Reynolds and James Mason in THE DESERT FOX
Henry Hathway directed this 1951 war biopic. Daniele Amfitheatrof’s score has not had a release. The film grossed a respectable $6.9 million in the U.S.
William Reynolds signed with Universal-International Pictures in 1952. His first film for the studio was also noted western director Budd Boetticher’s first western. It was the 1952 Audie Murphy picture THE CIMARRON KID. Reynolds played Will Dalton, a member of the famous Dalton Brothers gang, led by his brother Bob Dalton (Noah Berry, Jr.).
William Reynolds (seated, center) at a family dinner in THE CIMARRON KID
Universal-International hired the entire mining town of Columbia, CA, in order to have use of their twenty-seven buildings, six streets, 1880 vintage fire engine, and fifty-two citizens. The film had a stock music score. The picture grossed a decent $3.6 million.
The song-filled comedy HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL in set in Tarrytown, New York in the late 1920s, where the richest man in the world, skinflint hypochondriac “Samuel G. Fulton” (Charles Coburn), plans to leave his fortune to the children of the love of his life, the late Millicent Blaisdell. He explains to his lawyer, “Edward Norton” (Frank Ferguson), that it was only because Millicent spurned him for a bookkeeper that he turned to business and made his millions, but that he always wished he could have had a family with her instead. When Norton suggests that the Blaisdell family, consisting of father “Charles” (Larry Gates), mother “Harriet” (Lynn Bari), and children “Millie” (Piper Lurie), “Howard” (William Reynolds) and “Roberta” (Gigi Perreau), might spend his money foolishly, Sam decides to visit them at their home in Hilverton, Vermont.
William Reynolds and Charles Coburn in HAS ANYBODY SEEN MY GAL
William Reynolds received his first poster credit for this 1952 film, which was directed by Douglas Sirk. The film grossed an underwhelming $2. 5 million.
CARRIE, based on the novel Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser, told the story of “Carrie Meeber” (Jennifer Jones), a young girl from a provincial town, who learns the bitter reality of a big city and great love when she meets the manager of a fancy restaurant, “George Hurstwood” (Laurence Olivier).
William Reynolds played the restauranteur’s estranged son, “George Hurstwood, Jr.” The picture had been shot in mid-1950, before Reynolds had signed with Universal and while he was still being billed as “William Regnolds.” The film wasn’t released until mid-1952, and was likely held up in editing due to the nature of its story.
Dreiser's novel caused much controversy upon its publication in 1900. Publisher Frank Doubleday's wife was so shocked by Dreiser's manuscript that the book's first edition was never circulated. The novel also encountered trouble with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Paramount first approached the MPAA about the novel in 1935, but was told that it was "unacceptable," as its heroine was a "kept woman" and the story contained no "compensating moral values." When a screenplay was submitted to Production Code Authority director Joseph I. Breen, shortly before production was to begin in 1950, Breen repeated complaints that the story was "unacceptable" due to "adultery and illicit sex.” Some last minute changes were made, and the production moved forward.
William Wyler directed the 1952 release. The unreleased score was by David Raksin, but oddly the film is not listed among his credits at Soundtrack Collector. The film grossed an acceptable $5 million.
Back at Universal, William Reynolds costarred with Donald O’Connor in FRANCIS GOES TO WEST POINT. This was the third of seven films featuring Francis the Talking Mule. In the film, “Francis” (voice of Chill Wills) gets his owner “Pete Stirling” (O’Connor) in and out of trouble while Pete is attending the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Lori Nelson plays “Barbara Atwood, the long-time secret girl friend of a tough general's son, “Wilbur Van Allen” (William Reynolds).
Arthur Lubin directed the 1952 comedy, which had uncredited music by Milton Rosen, Frank Skinner, and Herman Stein. It was another profitable outing for the series, with a gross of $5.6 million.
“Kashma Baba” (Tony Curtis), the SON OF ALI BABA, the famed Baghdad thief, is a cadet in a medieval Persian military academy where he runs afoul of his rival “Hussein” (Hugh O’Brian), the evil Caliph's son. William Reynolds plays Kashma’s best friend, “Mustapha.”
William Reynolds in SON OF ALI BABA
Kurt Neumann directed this 1952 costume picture, which had an uncredited score by Herman Stein. The film grossed an average $3.5 million.
GUNSMOKE (1953) isn’t related to the radio or television show of the same name, although before its production the CBS network had warned Universal that it would protect the name of its radio program “Gunsmoke,” which they planned to make into a television series (which debuted in 1955). Apparently, though, no lawsuits resulted.
In this western, Audie Murphy is a hired gun who is offered the job of eliminating a rancher (Paul Kelly) whose property is desired by the local land baron (Donald Randolph). But after Murphy takes a liking to the rancher’s daughter (Susan Cabot), he turns down the job and takes over running the ranch instead. Randolph then hires another top gun, Charles Drake, who is an old friend of Murphy’s, to eliminate both Kelly and Murphy. Williams Reynolds has a supporting role as one of the heavies, “Brazos.”
The film has the usual solid Universal production values—good color, solid direction by Nathan Juran, and a score (uncredited) by Herman Stein—delivered in this case by producer Aaron Rosenberg, in the first of his six films with Murphy. The film grossed $3.9 million, an average take for a Murphy western.
Slender hangs illusion, fragile the thread to reality. Always the question: Is it true? Truth is in the mind and the mind of man varies with time and place. The time is 1945. The place is Asia.
So reads the prologue to CULT OF THE COBRA, in which American G.I.s who trespass on a Hindu ceremony are hunted down by a beautiful woman (Faith Domergue) who has the power to transform herself into a cobra. William Reynolds played “Pete Norton,” one of the G.I.s.
Servicemen Jack Kelly, William Reynolds, David Janssen, Marshall Thompson, and James Dobson in CULT OF THE COBRA
Francis D. Lyon directed the 1955 film. The film’s uncredited team score has been attributed to Irving Gertz, William Lava, Lou Maury, and Stanley Wilson.
In the beginning of ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS, set in the New England town of Stoningham, widow “Cary Scott” (Jane Wyman) is disappointed when her friend, “Sara Warren” (Agnes Moorehead), cancels a lunch date, and so invites her landscaper “Ron Kirby” (Rock Hudson) to share the meal. Immediately, Cary is drawn to Ron's strength and calm, but his youth and blue-collar social status make a romance unthinkable to her. That night, Cary's children, budding executive “Ned” (William Reynolds) and co-ed “Kay” (Gloria Talbott), come home and grant their approval to Cary's date with the sole local bachelor, staid hypochondriac “Harvey” (Conrad Negal).
Gloria Talbott, William Reynolds, and Jane Wyman in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS
In developing the film, Universal saw ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS as a chance to repeat the success of 1954’s MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION. To that end, they re-assembled not only stars Jane Wyman, Rock Hudson and Agnes Moorehead, but most of the production crew as well, in particular, director Douglas Sirk. Referring to the film's title, Sirk affirmed that he considered it to be ironic: "As far as I'm concerned, heaven is stingy."
Composer Frank Skinner also returned from MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION to score the 1955 film. with an assist from Liszt's Consolation #3 in D flat major. The score has not had a release. While ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS was a box office success, grossing $8.9 million, it did not replicate the grosses of MAGNIFICENT OBSESSION, which totaled $14.9 million.
THERE’S ALWAYS TOMORROW was the fourth and final feature film pairing of Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray, with their most famous being 1944’s DOUBLE INDEMNITY. In this romantic drama, when toy manufacturer “Clifford Groves” (MacMurray) feels ignored and unappreciated by his wife (Joan Bennett) and children (William Reynolds and Gigi Perreau), he begins to rekindle a past love when former employee “Norma Miller Vale” (Stanwyck) comes back into his life.
Universal had previously filmed Ursula Parrott’s novel in 1934. Co-star Reynolds again found himself working for director Douglas Sirk in this 1956 film. Herman Stein and Heinz Roemheld provided the unreleased score for the film. The film grossed a disappointing $2.9 million.
Set in 1943, AWAY ALL BOATS finds merchant marine Captain Dave MacDougall (George Nader) accepting a demotion to Lieutenant in order to enlist in the U.S. Navy. He now finds himself on the attack transporter USS Belinda captained by “Jebediah S. Hawks” (Jeff Chandler). Theirs is an uneasy relationship as Hawks is well aware that MacDougall had been a Captain before enlisting, and he feels a bit threatened by him. Hawks is also less than enthused about being in charge of the Belinda as he had set his sights on being in command of a much better ship. This is why he is being hard on every member of the crew as he plans to whip them into shape and make the Belinda the best ship so that he can get the command he wants. William Reynolds plays “Ensign Kruger” on the ship.
Joseph Pevney directed the 1956 war actioner, which was shot aboard the USS Randall and along with the Navy and Marines on maneuvers in Puerto Rico. Frank Skinner’s score has not been released. AWAY ALL BOATS ranked in the top 30 films of the year at the domestic box office, with a $10 million gross.
In MISTER CORY, card shark “Cory” (Tony Curtis) leaves behind his working-class neighborhood of Chicago for Green Pines Lodge, an upscale Wisconsin resort. Restaurant owner “Mr. Earnshaw” (Henry Daniell) offers Cory a job as a busboy, but reprimands him for every misstep. At night, Cory angers his fellow employees by consistently winning at poker games, while in the mornings he holds secret putting contests with the wealthy guests. One night, while Cory is working, he sees beautiful Chicago socialite “Abby Vollard” (Martha Hyer) celebrating her birthday, and forms a plan to seduce her, and get her away from her boyfriend, “Alex Wyncott” (William Reynolds).
William Reynolds, Martha Hyer, and Tony Curtis in MISTER CORY
Blake Edwards wrote and directed this 1957 drama, which had an uncredited score by Herman Stein. The film had only modest grosses of $2.9 million domestically.
A small group of explorers head out across an Antarctic region looking to expand upon their scientific research. The team is led by geophysicist “Commander Hal Roberts” (Jock Mahoney). Also in the group is the beautiful and smart journalist “Margaret Hathaway” (Shirley Patterson, billed as Shawn Smith) and mechanic “Steve Miller” (Phil Harvey). The team finds themselves thrust into the chaos of a storm that destroys their helicopter, piloted by “Lieutenant Jack Carmen” (William Reynolds), which strands them in a chasm 3,000 feet below sea level. It's THE LAND UNKNOWN, filled with man-eating plants, giant creatures, and prehistoric dinosaurs!
Jock Mahoney, Shirley Patterson, William Reynolds, and Phil Harvey in THE LAND UNKNOWN
This 1957 fantasy adventure was originally set to be an expensive sci-fi epic shot in color with a large cast and Jack Arnold directing. Arnold actually began pre-production work when Universal decided to slash the budget, shoot it in black-and-white instead of color and changed (and reduced) the cast, turning it from a big-budget "A" picture to a low-budget "B" picture. Arnold withdrew from the project, and Universal assigned it to one of its contract directors, Virgil W. Vogel. The “4Hs” provided the film’s uncredited score: Henry Mancini, Heinz Roemheld, Hans J. Salter, and Herman Stein.
Fats Domino sang the song that gave THE BIG BEAT its title, as well as his hit "I'm Walkin'." He was joined by more than a dozen other musical acts, including The Diamonds, The Del Vikings, and The Mills Brothers. The story was about a young man (William Reynolds) just out of college who tries to persuade his father (Bill Goodwin), who owns a record company, to start signing up rock 'n' roll acts.
Reynolds had his first lead role in a film. Will Cowan directed the 1958 picture, which had incidental music by Henry Mancini.
William Reynolds had the lead role, and appeared in the final film on his Universal contract, with the horror film THE THING THAT COULDN’T DIE. Reynolds plays archaeologist “Gordon Hawthorne,” who is visiting his childhood hometown for the summer along with his friends, artist “Hank Houston” (John Fontaine) and Hank’s fiancée “Linda Madison” (Andra Martin). Hawthorne is present when a psychically gifted childhood friend, “Jessica Burns” (Carolyn Kearney) discovers a centuries-old crate buried on her aunt's ranch. Opening it, her family discovers the living head of Gideon Drew, a 16th century devil worshiper who was beheaded by Sir Francis Drake.
William Reynolds in THE THING THAT COULDN’T DIE
Will Cowan directed the 1958 film, which had an uncredited score by Henry Mancini.
Starting in 1958, William Reynolds began a long (but non-exclusive) relationship with Warner Bros. when he made a guest appearance on “Maverick.” This led to guest star appearances on other Warner television shows. A notable 1959 episode of “Bronco” found him appearing with fellow guest star Robert Vaughn.
Robert Vaughn and William Reynolds in “Bronco: Borrowed Glory”
An episode of “Wagon Train”, “The Clara Duncan Story,” found Eduardo Ciannelli and Angie Dickinson traveling west to find Ciannelli's son and Dickinson's fiancé Robert Clarke. Both Clarke and Ciannelli are respected artists, though Clarke out West hasn't heard about some of the acclaim he's received back East.
For one particular painting, called The Lynching, Clarke secretly viewed one, and from memory painted the scene. The acclaim it has received has caused others to search for him as well. Also on the trail is newspaper reporter William Reynolds, who smells a good story.
William Reynolds in “Wagon Train: The Clara Duncan Story”
In 1959, William Reynolds got his first starring role in a television series. It was “Pete Kelly’s Blues”, which was based upon a 1955 Jack Webb film of the same name. Webb, whose first wife was actress and nightclub blues singer Julie London, had a lifelong interest in jazz. The first incarnation of “Pete Kelly’s Blues” was as a radio series that aired for six months in 1951.
In the television series, Reynolds had the Webb role of “Pete Kelly,” a cornetist and bandleader at a Kansas City speakeasy during the 1920s. In addition to his music, Kelly also found time to help out people in distress.
“Pete Kelly’s Blues” was given a mid-year try-out by NBC in the spring of 1959, in the 8:30 PM Sunday slot. It went up against the second half of “The Ed Sullivan Show” on CBS and the western “Lawman” on ABC, which was the #27-ranked show of the season. “Pete Kelly’s Blues” was not renewed for the fall 1959 season and was cancelled after 13 episodes. Warner Bros. Records did, however, release an LP of jazz music from the film, played by “Pete Kelly’s Big 7,” with Dick Cathcart on cornet. The LP has not been re-issued on CD.