Bill Kennedy was a B movie actor who spent nearly 15 years in Hollywood as a Warner Bros contract player as well as appearing in a handful of Poverty Row productions. In 1952 Kennedy came to Detroit where he was hired as a booth announcer at WWJ-TV. He left Detroit after a year and returned to Los Angeles, where he became an anchorman at KNXT-TV and narrated the opening to the Superman TV show (Faster than a speeding bullet…). Kennedy returned to Detroit for good in 1955, where he became Detroit’s premier movie host.
of Arc is a 1948 film starring Ingrid Bergman and a cast of thousands, one
of those being Bill Kennedy. The movie's credits run for nearly three and a
half minutes, which is quite unusual for a 1940s production. Kennedy’s
screen credit is number 57 out of 58. He played Thierache the Executioner. Since
Bill’s screen credit is at the end, his name barely crawls to the middle of
the screen before it fades away into the first act. Poor Bill.
years, Kennedy told TV viewers the story of his big climactic scene with Ingrid
Bergman. He also told writer Richard Bak, who has graciously given permission to
reprint part of his interview with Kennedy.
burned Ingrid at the stake in Joan of Arc. She was terrific, just
friendly as hell. Of course, I uttered one of the classic lines of all time in
that movie. It was, “We need some more faggots over here.” This was the big
climactic scene of the whole movie.
director was Victor Fleming, a real martinet. He had directed Gone With the
Wind and The Wizard of Oz. This guy was God. Anyway, I told him,
“Mr. Fleming, this ‘faggots’ has a different meaning today than it had in
the 13th century.’ He
said, “Just go ahead and do the part or we’ll get somebody else.”
I did it. I read the line, and when we had the preview in Pasadena the audience
fell down laughing when they heard it. Only then did they cut it out of the
For those unfamiliar with the term, Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines faggot as "a bundle of sticks or twigs, bound together and used as fuel."
I’m not calling Bill a liar, but like any good actor, he never let the
facts get in the way of telling a good story. Let’s analyze.
an actor who is listed 57th in the credits complain to the director
of Gone With the Wind about his one and only line in the film? Probably
not, unless that actor was Bill Kennedy.
you look at the film, Joan is chained to a stake at the top of a huge
twelve-foot mound of faggots. Certainly more than enough faggots to get the
job done. I just don’t see why Thierache the Executioner saw the need for more
faggots. Not to mention the immense heat generated by a twelve-foot high pile of flaming
was nominated for an Academy Award for the film, but lost to Jane Wyman in
Johnny Belinda. Kennedy didn’t receive a nomination, but he didn’t have any
lines in the film. Oops! Jane Wyman didn’t have any lines in Johnny
To see Bill’s flaming final scene with Ingrid Bergman in Joan of Arc, just click on the box to the left.
More films to come.