William Duncan: British actor and film director (1879 - 1961) | Biography
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William Duncan
British actor and film director

William Duncan

William Duncan
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro British actor and film director
Was Film director Actor Screenwriter Film actor
From United Kingdom
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio
Gender male
Birth 16 December 1879, Dundee, United Kingdom
Death 8 February 1961, Hollywood, USA (aged 81 years)
Star sign Sagittarius
Spouse: Edith Johnson
The details (from wikipedia)


William Duncan (December 16, 1879 – February 7, 1961), born in Dundee, Scotland was an actor, producer, writer, and director of film serials. He was a leading star, becoming one of the highest paid actors in the early film industry. Many of the films he starred in did not survive to the present day. Duncan, who was Hollywood's first Scottish movie star, worked with the major studios of the day including the Selig Polyscope Company and Vitagraph.


Born in the Lochee area of Dundee in 1879, Duncan came to the United States in 1890. He played football and participated in track at the University of Pennsylvania but left after two years. He worked as physical director at the McFadden Physical Culture Health Home and wrote for a magazine about physical culture. He also operated a gymnasium in Philadelphia and was a professional wrestler. Duncan debuted in vaudeville in 1906, after which he acted in stock theater companies in Memphis, Tennessee; Rochester, New York; and Philadelphia.

He had a role in hundreds of serial episodes in a career spanning from 1911 to 1940, many of them Westerns. When William Duncan joined Vitagraph, his contract was worth $1,000,000 a year, which made him better paid than Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. Mr. Duncan is interred at Inglewood Park Cemetery, Inglewood, California, USA. He appeared in films with Olympic swimmer Buster Crabbe (who played Flash Gordon in the 1930s).


His second wife was silent film actress Edith Johnson who sometimes costarred with him on screen. He and his wife had two sons and one daughter. The couple remained married until Duncan's death in 1961.

Selected filmography

The Man of Might (1919)
  • The Telltale Knife (1911)
  • The Count of Monte Cristo (1912)
  • The Fighting Trail (1917)
  • Smashing Barriers (1919)
  • Hopalong Rides Again (1921)
  • The Steel Trail (1923)
  • Playing It Wild (1923)
  • The Fast Express (1924)
  • Wolves of the North (1924)
  • Hello, 'Frisco (1924)
  • Three on the Trail (1936)
  • Forlorn River (1937)
  • The Frontiersmen (1938)
  • Bar 20 Justice (1938)
  • The Farmer's Daughter (1940)
The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 04 May 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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