Whether he had his own guiding star or was simply in the right place at the right time, William Campbell’s all-too-brief Western career was certainly spent in the company of stars. Although he never made a Western with John Wayne, Campbell more than just stayed in the saddle alongside the likes of William Holden, Kirk Douglas, and even Elvis. He rode pretty tall, and as many actors will contend, in Hollywood, that’s no easy ride.
William Campbell always wanted to be in Westerns, but he grew up a long way away from the open spaces of the West. Born in Newark, New Jersey the eldest son of a public sector employee, Campbell didn’t suffer through the Depression like many of his peers. “There was never not food on the table, never not a Christmas tree for the holidays,” he remembers. Being a homemaker, his mother was always there for him and his younger brother. It was a loving home which gave the young teenager all the confidence to participate in just about every activity at school he could — he even became a cheerleader when he wasn’t big enough for football.
In the summer of ’42, Campbell graduated from high school and enlisted for action in World War II. While waiting to embark on his Tour of Duty, Campbell worked as an office boy at a nearby RCA factory, where he was somewhat professionally introduced to showbiz by way of making daily announcements over the public address system. Finally when Campbell did get a piece of the war, he found himself on a minesweeper that took him all the way to China and beyond, even to Hiroshima and Nagasaki just a month after the bomb dropped.
Upon returning home, Campbell wasted no time on deciding what he wanted to be. Seeking out a teacher friend from high school, he was able to secure enrollment at a prominent drama academy. After two years of hard work and knocking on doors, he ventured out to Warner Brothers in Burbank, California, in 1950. Through a chance meeting with Jack Warner’s son-in-law…………………………
Also included with this article:
“Campbell and the Golden Boot Awards”
“An Awkward Moment with Robert Livingston”
“Campbell the Peacemaker”
“A Couple of Shining Moments”
“Man of Influence”
“Giving Credit Where It’s Due”
“Summing Up John Wayne”