Moving easily from comedies to drama, character actor William "Bill" Forsythe has been busy in feature films since the early '80s, when he debuted with a small role in Smokey Bites the Dust (1981). In addition, he frequently appears on television and on stage, where he launched his career. The stocky, moon-faced, and gap-toothed Brooklyn native began acting in local productions in his early teens and by age 16, had become a professional, appearing on and off Broadway. As a young man, Forsythe moved to Southern California. Shortly after his film debut, he also made his first television appearance in the TV-movie The Miracle of Kathy Miller. This started him on a series of guest-starring roles on shows ranging from CHiPS to Fame. At this early stage, Forsythe was usually cast in villainous roles, as in his breakthrough feature Once Upon a Time in America (1984), in which he played the sweet-faced but ruthless gangster Cockeye. One of Forsythe's most memorable performances was also his first lead, that of a rebellious wheelchair-bound patient who turns a hospital ward topsy-turvy, in the ensemble piece The Waterdance (1991). The same year, Forsythe starred as Al Capone in the short-lived television resurrection of The Untouchables. His other television credits include a leading role opposite Emilio Estevez, in Gene Quintano's tribute to spaghetti Westerns A Dollar for the Dead (1998). The actor stayed busy throughout the 2000s, appearing in Scary Movie 3 (2003), Hammerhead (2005), and Freedomland (2006). In 2007 he took on a supporting role in Rob Zombie's reboot of Halloween, and continued to find work (mainly in the horror genre) throughout the late 2000s.
Biography by Sandra Brennan
- Began acting in local productions in his early teens, eventually landing roles on and off-Broadway.
- Studied acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
- Was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Independent Spirit award for his performance in The Waterdance (1992).
- Tapped to portray Philadelphia gangster Manny Horvitz in a recurring role on HBO's Boardwalk Empire in 2011.