Oh, to be only the third most famous person named William Morris! Neither the famous show biz agent, nor the famous Renaissance Man of the Arts and Crafts movement , this William Morris (1861-1936) was an actor whose career began in the old barn-storming days. A Boston native, he made his debut at the old Boston Museum in 1875. In 1891, he married stage comedian Etta Hawkins; both were to become famous in separate careers on Broadway and in (mostly silent) films.
Morris had played the Palace in vaudeville as early as 1915, but the act that’s perhaps most notable to modern fans would be the one he formed in the early 1920s, consisting of himself, Etta and their four children — one of whom would become the most famous member of the family as Hollywood actor Chester Morris. The act they performed together was called “The Horrors of Home”. The elder Morris’s last film role was in 1932, his last stage role in 1935. In both cases he seemed to have been playing bit roles towards the end. Today is William Morris’s birthday
To learn more about vaudeville, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.