William Kelley

Active - 1978 - 1986  |   Born - Jan 1, 1929   |   Died - Feb 2, 2003   |   Genres - Thriller, Action, Romance, Crime, Horror

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

William Kelley harbored a notable bad-boy reputation, despite studying early in life to become a priest. He began writing for television in the mid-'50s, frequently penning episodes of such popular series as Gunsmoke and Bonanza. A native of Staten Island and reared in a prominent political family, Kelley eschewed the priesthood in favor of studying at Brown University, and later Harvard Graduate School and Law School. Kelley was a noted military man in addition to his extended education, and the temperamental Air Force boxer was always eager to step into the ring for a good fight. A 1955 episode of Marshall Dillon earned Kelley his first writing credit, and after working as an editor at Doubleday, McGraw-Hill, and Simon and Schuster, he would publish his first novel, Gemini. Quickly racking up TV writing credits, Westerns proved to be Kelley's specialty; he soon became the recipient of a Golden Spur award for his contributions to Gunsmoke and How the West Was Won. A script idea that Kelley had for Gunsmoke was rejected, only to subsequently turn up as a How the West Was Won episode and then, decades later, the Oscar-winning feature film Witness (1985). Showing up at writing conferences and seminars in his later years, Kelley thrived while working with burgeoning writers. In early February of 2003, William Kelley died of cancer in Bishop, CA. He was 73.

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