William Crosby Percy Austin
12 June 1884
|Died||15 June 1975 (aged 91)|
|Resting place||Pacific View Memorial Park, Corona del Mar, California|
|Relatives||Albert Austin (brother)|
William Crosby Percy Austin (12 June 1884 – 15 June 1975) was an English character actor. He was the first actor to play Alfred in a Batman adaptation.
William Austin was born in Georgetown in British Guiana. His parents were Charles Percy Austin and Rosalie Ann Sarah Austin. 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.
Austin attended Reading College in England and gained theatrical experience via Little Theatre and Drama Shop plays.
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. Beginning in 1919, Austin acted at the Morosco Theatre in Los Angeles for three years. He began working in films in 1922.
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.
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; 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.