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Bill Lancaster
Lancaster in The Big Valley (1967)
William Henry Lancaster

(1947-11-17)November 17, 1947
DiedJanuary 4, 1997(1997-01-04) (aged 49)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Resting placeWestwood Memorial Park
Occupation(s)Screenwriter, actor
Years active1965–1997
Kippie Kovacs
(m. 1965)
ParentBurt Lancaster
RelativesErnie Kovacs

William Henry Lancaster (November 17, 1947[2] – January 4, 1997) was an American screenwriter and actor.

Early life

He was born November 17, 1947, in Los Angeles, California, the son of Burt Lancaster (1913–1994) and Norma Anderson (1917–1988). He contracted polio at an early age, leaving one leg shorter than the other.


Lancaster, who resembled his famous father at the time, guest-starred in an episode of the television series The Big Valley in 1967. Lancaster played the role of "King", the boyfriend of a murdered college student in The Midnight Man (1974), a mystery film starring and co-directed by his father.

Lancaster's best-known work is his adapted screenplay for John Carpenter's The Thing.[3] He also penned the original screenplays for two of The Bad News Bears films.[4]

In 1982, he worked on a first-draft script of an adaptation of Stephen King's novel Firestarter for Carpenter to direct. Months later of the same year, Carpenter hired Bill Phillips to work on a rewrite of Lancaster's draft. When The Thing did not match the studio's financial expectations, Universal replaced Carpenter with Mark L. Lester and both drafts were scrapped in favor of Stanley Mann's draft.[5]

Lancaster is featured in the documentary The Thing: Terror Takes Shape, found on the collector's edition DVD of The Thing. Lancaster states that he did not think Who Goes There? was a "great" story, but that he responded to the tale's sense of claustrophobia and paranoia. The documentary is dedicated to him.[citation needed]

Personal life

Lancaster was married to Kippie Kovacs, daughter of the comedian Ernie Kovacs.[6] They had one child, daughter Keigh Kristin.[7]


Lancaster died of a heart attack at the age of 49. His ashes were buried at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery, where his father's ashes are also interred.[8] The ashes of his daughter Keigh, who died in 2017 at age 51, were buried with her father's in the same plot.[7]





  1. ^ Welkos, Robert W. (June 12, 2005). "Pursuing a legacy". Los Angeles Times.
  2. ^ "California Births 1905–1995". MyHeritage.
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent (June 25, 1982). "The Thing, Horror and Science Fiction". The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2009.
  4. ^ "Bill Lancaster". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. November 13, 2013. Archived from the original on November 13, 2013.
  5. ^ Abrams, Simon; Seitz, Matt Zoller (October 13, 2016). "The Men Who Were The Thing Look Back on a Modern Horror Classic". LA Weekly.
  6. ^ "People in the News – Took No Chances". Reading Eagle. December 14, 1965. Retrieved October 27, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "Keigh Kristin Lancaster Obituary". Los Angeles Times. September 14, 2017 – via
  8. ^ "William Lancaster". Variety. January 12, 1997. Retrieved June 11, 2022.