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William Austin
William Austin - What a Night! (1928).jpg
Austin in What a Night! (1928)
William Crosby Percy Austin

(1884-06-12)12 June 1884
Died15 June 1975(1975-06-15) (aged 91)
Resting placePacific View Memorial Park, Corona del Mar, California
Years active1920–1970
RelativesAlbert Austin (brother)

William Crosby Percy Austin (12 June 1884 – 15 June 1975)[1] was an English character actor. He was the first actor to play Alfred in a Batman adaptation.

Early years

William Austin was born in Georgetown in British Guiana.[2] His parents were Charles Percy Austin and Rosalie Ann Sarah Austin.[1] On the death of his father, he was brought to the United Kingdom to complete his education. He was the brother of actor Albert Austin.[citation needed]

Austin attended Reading College in England and gained theatrical experience via Little Theatre and Drama Shop plays.[1]


Austin filled a business post in Shanghai and on being sent to San Francisco by the company he worked for, he decided to stay in America and take up acting on the stage and later in films.[citation needed] Beginning in 1919, Austin acted at the Morosco Theatre in Los Angeles for three years. He began working in films in 1922.[1]

He appeared in many American films and serials between the 1920s and the 1940s, though the vast majority of his roles were small and uncredited. Of the silent films Austin appeared in, he is best remembered as the sidekick friend of Clara Bow in Bow's best known film It (1927). He supported Laurel and Hardy in two of their films, Duck Soup and County Hospital.

Austin worked as a film editor from 1928 to 1930, primarily working with Westerns.[1]


Austin's portrayal of Batman's butler, Alfred, in the 1943 Batman serial is the iconic portrayal still used in the comics. Previous to being played by Austin, the character was fat and had no facial hair. Performed by Austin, the character was thin with a moustache. Shortly after the serial was released, Alfred in the comics was changed to match the look of the serial;[3] this representation of the character has for the most part continued to this day except for the live action films, the Birds of Prey series, and the Deadshot short in Batman: Gotham Knight where he has no moustache.


On 15 June 1975, Austin died in Newport Beach, California. He was buried in Pacific View Memorial Park, Corona del Mar, California.[4]

Selected filmography


  1. ^ a b c d e Katchmer, George A. (2015). A Biographical Dictionary of Silent Film Western Actors and Actresses. McFarland. p. 12. ISBN 978-1-4766-0905-8. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  2. ^ "The Modern Screen Directory (Players)". The Modern Screen Magazine. 1 (1): 6. November 1930. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  3. ^ "10 things you may not know about Batman's wingman Alfred". Los Angeles Daily News. 18 July 2014. Archived from the original on 24 February 2021. Retrieved 10 December 2020.
  4. ^ Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons, 3d ed. McFarland. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-4766-2599-7. Retrieved 11 January 2022.