Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: I Have Such a Crush on Bill Goodwin



A still of Bill Goodwin, listed on EBay as Buy It Now for $17.50.

Among my unlikely crushes is Bill Goodwin, an actor whose name is pretty much forgotten today. He was good-looking in an ordinary-guy sort of way; like your high-school friend’s cute dad, or the dentist you might have Thoughts about as he shoved his hands in your mouth.

He had supporting roles in scads of 1940s and ’50s movies (So Proudly We Hail!, Bathing Beauty, The Stork Club, Spellbound, The Jolson Story, So This Is New York, It’s a Great Feeling, The Opposite Sex), but was mostly known for his radio work. His light, affable voice was briefly (1947) heard on his own radio show, and he announced and did ads for Frank Sinatra, Blondie and finally George Burns and Gracie Allen; he followed them to TV in 1950, and for the first year of their show basically played himself.

He dropped by, chatted, did comedy bits, and plugged Carnation Evaporated Milk, from contented cows (I always wondered how you “evaporated” milk, and how you knew the cows were contented and not just quietly depressed).

“Easygoing charm” perfectly sums up Bill Goodwin. He’s hard to find clips of, but this one from Burns and Allen perfectly captures his goofy charm:


He left Burns and Allen in 1951 and worked steadily on TV and radio till he died of a heart attack—aged only 47!—in 1958, and was pretty much completely forgotten. Except by Your Girlfriend, who still loved seeing him on the occasional old movie or TV rerun.

About lmharnisch

I am retired from the Los Angeles Times
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11 Responses to Eve Golden’s YouTube Theater: I Have Such a Crush on Bill Goodwin

  1. Eve says:

    Does anyone else remember this guy, or is it just me?


  2. mandymarie20 says:

    Love Bill Goodwin. He was really talented. Can’t stand Burns and Allen though, so I’ll have to check out his other appearances.


  3. Eve says:

    I’ve become increasingly worried about the Carnation cows. Far from being Contented, I bet they were suffering from the kind of resignation that comes with accepting one’s hopeless lot in life.


  4. skretvedt1958 says:

    I *love* Burns and Allen (George Burns has always been one of my heroes, and I cherish a very nice letter that he wrote to me in 1990). Bill Goodwin was an integral part of their ’40s radio series, and I frequently play episodes of it on my show, “Forward into the Past” (heard Sundays from 2 to 5 p.m. over KSPC-FM 88.7 in the Inland Empire/Los Angeles/OC areas and online at http://www.kspc.org). So, Bill Goodwin is still on the air. His character on the radio show was quite the playboy. I’ll have to find some episodes of his own show to see if he played the same type. Thanks for remembering him.


  5. E. Yarber says:

    I recently began listening to the 1930s Bob Hope show, and Goodwin is there too, both as announcer and comedy player. While he had a familiar persona outside of the Burns & Allen show, it’s interesting to note that Burns maximized the role of his announcer much the same way that his pal Jack Benny created a long-running character for Don Wilson on his own program, and felt the need to maintain that element of the cast when Harry Von Zell took Goodwin’s place on the television series.


  6. Laura C. says:

    As soon as I read the name “Bill Goodwin”, I instantly heard his smooth voice from Burns and Allen in my head. Gracie pretended to be his wife in a 1945 episode, and she and George even moved in with him for a time in a 1947 episode (after Gracie sold their house by mistake).

    I can totally understand the crush. I would paw his tweed jacket anytime.


  7. Maury Kendall says:

    I had no idea: hosting “Penny to a Million” on ABC for about six months in 1955. https://youtu.be/5a5o8NhtKmA


    • Eve says:

      Thanks for posting that! He was such a sweetie, I hope he was as nice as he seemed.

      I bet if you had a million million dollars, though, you could buy a better cigarette than Raleigh.


      • Maury Kendall says:

        The ad says you couldn’t, and 50s TV ads never lied, so… (First-time commenter, long-time admirer of the work showcased on this site!)


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