Texas Day by Day

On this day in Texas history…

Actor Guinn Williams Jr. dies

June 6th, 1962

On this day in 1962, Guinn Williams Jr., who enjoyed a lengthy career as a character actor, died in Van Nuys, California. Williams, who was named for his congressman father, was born in 1899 in Decatur, Texas. In 1919 he went to Hollywood, where his good looks and horsemanship resulted in a contract with the Goldwyn studio. Williams became a successful character actor in a series of westerns during the 1920s, performing with such silent screen stars as Tom Mix and Will Rogers. It was Rogers who dubbed the Texan "Big Boy," a nickname that stayed with him throughout his life. Rogers and Williams became close friends, in part because of their love of horses. Throughout the 1920s Williams was a featured performer in the Will Rogers rodeo shows that toured the country. Unlike many of his silent-movie colleagues, Williams easily made the transition to the "talkies" in the 1930s. Although he continued to be cast in westerns, he also had supporting roles in comedies such as Bachelor Father (1931) and dramas such as The Glass Key (1935), A Star Is Born (1937), and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1943). His last two films were the John Wayne vehicles The Alamo (1960) and The Comancheros (1962). Throughout his career Williams's trademark was the puzzled squint of the slow-witted cowhand who attempts to understand an involved situation or the amiable tough guy who is too kind-hearted to be mean.

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