William Henry Wright, known as Will Wright (March 26, 1891 – June 19, 1962), was an American character actor. He was frequently cast inwesterns and as curmudgeonly old men. Over the course of his career, Wright appeared in more than two hundred film and television roles.
Born in San Francisco, Wright worked as a newspaperman before beginning a career in show business. He started his acting career in vaudeville and later moved to the stage. While on the NY stages, he picked up some film roles at Vitaphone Studios in Brooklyn; one confirmed sighting is in the Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy short subject Pure Feud (1934) as 'Lem'. Wright also worked in radio, appearing in more than five thousand radio programs.
Wright made his west coast film debut in 1940 Blondie Plays Cupid. In 1942, he provided the voice of Friend Owl in Walt Disney's animated filmBambi. Wright also had roles in Shadow of the Thin Man (1941), The Major and the Minor (1943), So Proudly We Hail! (1943), Road to Utopia (1946),Mother Wore Tights (1947), Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948), Little Women (1949), Walk Softly, Stranger (1950), People Will Talk(1951), The Happy Time (1952), River of No Return (1954), The Man with the Golden Arm (1955), Jeanne Eagels (1957), and Gunman's Walk (1958).
During the 1950s, he guest starred on several television series, including Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, Where's Raymond?, The Bob Cummings Show, Our Miss Brooks, Father Knows Best, The Millionaire, Circus Boy, Fury, The Real McCoys, The Donna Reed Show, The Restless Gun, Lawman, Tales of Wells Fargo, and The Rough Riders.
From 1959 to 1961, Wright had recurring roles on NBC's Bat Masterson and CBS's Dennis the Menace. He also made multiple appearances on I Love Lucy, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,The Lone Ranger, Sugarfoot, December Bride, and Maverick.
Wright was cast in the 1958 episode "The Cave-In" episode of the syndicated series Rescue 8, starring Jim Davis and Lang Jeffries. He played an elderly man who attempts with shovel and bucket to build a backyard swimming pool for his grandchildren with disastrous results because of the lack of proper shoring.
Wright made three guest appearances on Perry Mason between 1959-1961. He first appeared as Chuck Clark in "The Case of the Petulant Partner," then as Adam Thompson in "The Case of the Nimble Nephew," and finally as James Vardon in "The Case of the Brazen Bequest."
In 1959, he was cast as J.C. Sickel in the episode, "Payment in Full" of the NBC western series, Riverboat, starring Darren McGavin. Also appearing in this episode were Aldo Ray as Hunk Farber, John Larch as Touhy, and Barbara Bel Geddes as Missy. In the story line, Farber betrays his friend and employer to collect reward money, which he uses to court his girlfriend, Missy.
In 1960, Wright appeared as Mr. Johnson on CBS's The Danny Thomas Show in the episode entitled, "Danny Meets Andy Griffith", the spin-off for The Andy Griffith Show. On The Andy Griffith Show, Wright portrayed department store owner and landlord Ben Weaver in three episodes from 1960 to 1962. After his death, he was replaced as Ben Weaver, first by Tol Avery, and then by Jason Johnson. Wright made his last onscreen appearances in a 1962 episode of NBC's Bonanza.
On June 19, 1962, Wright died of cancer at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Los Angeles. He is interred in Suisun-Fairfield Cemetery in Fairfield, California.