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.

 Joan 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.

 For 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.

 “I 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.

 The 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.”

 So 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 movie.”

  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."

 Now 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.

 Would 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.

 If 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 faggots. 

 Bergman 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 Belinda. My bad.

 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.