William "Wild Bill" “Wild Bill” Elliott (William Elliott)

William “Wild Bill” Elliott

Actor. He was the most prolific B Western performer in Hollywood history.  William “Wild Bill” Elliot in a career that lasted over 30 years, appeared in over 170 films as a supporting or a lead actor.  Elliott hit his stride making dozens of Westerns which landed him a top money earner in the period 1940-1954.  He was born Gordon Nance on a ranch in Pattonsburg, Missouri to a father who was commissioner at the Kansas City stockyards. Gordon grew up as a riding, roping, cattle busting youngster idolizing William Hart.  He appeared in many horse and livestock shows.  His cowboy skills would prove to be beneficial in his later Hollywood career.  While attending Rockingham College for a time, the lure of Hollywood was simply to great.  He moved to California enrolling in the Pasadena Community Playhouse for stage performances.  Gordon was signed for movies by a talent scout and for thirteen years, he performed under the name William Elliott, specializing in society dramas but appeared in some westerns, a total of 90 movies in all.  A few of the many: ‘The Plastic Age’ (Clara Bow) The Story of Louis Pasteur, The Singing Kid (Al Jolson) G-Men (James Cagney) and Tarzan’s Revenge (Glen Morris).  His defining moment came in 1938 when Columbia cast him as the lead in a 15-chapter serial, “The Great Adventures of Wild Bill Hickok” assuming as his own, the nickname, “Wild Bill.”  Over the next 14 years he appeared in dozens of westerns utilizing a distinctive manner in his gun performances.  He wore and drew his pistols with the grips facing forward and would always “cross draw” the guns.  He went on to appear in serials as Kit Carson and in Republic films as the fictional “Red Ryder.”  He portrayed a character with his own name in a eight film series that began with “Calling Wild Bill Elliott.”  His aging and with the era of the western movies fading, he simi-retired and moved to Los Vegas hosting a local television show where he interviewed guests and showed his old movies.  He died here from cancer at age 61 and was cremated. (bio by: Donald Greyfield)  Family links:  Parents:  Leroy Whitfield Nance (1874 – 1937)  Spouse:  Dolly Genevieve Herbst (1932 – 2001)* *Calculated relationship


  • October, 16, 1904
  • USA


  • November, 11, 1965
  • USA


  • Palm Desert Memorial
  • Nevada
  • USA

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