Warren William was a Broadway and Hollywood actor, born the son of Freeman E. and Frances Krech, as Warren William Krech in Aitkin, Minnesota. He had a certain physical resemblance to John Barrymore. He attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. After moving from Broadway to Hollywood in the silent period, he reached his peak as a leading man in early 1930s pre-Production Code films. He was a contract player at the Warner Bros. studio and was known for portraying amoral businessmen, lawyers, and other heartless types, including the Sam Spade character in the second filming of The Maltese Falcon, called Satan Met a Lady with Bette Davis.
He also played sympathetic roles, however, as in Imitation of Life, in which he portrayed Claudette Colbert’s love interest. He appeared as her love interest again that year, when he played Julius Caesar to her Cleopatra in Cecil B. DeMille’s version of Cleopatra. And he was the swashbucking d’Artagnan in the 1939 version of The Man in the Iron Mask, directed by James Whale.
William was the first to portray Erle Stanley Gardner’s fictional defense attorney Perry Mason on the big screen and starred in four fast paced, comical, and highly entertaining Perry Mason mysteries. He also played Raffles-like reformed jewel thief The Lone Wolf for Columbia Pictures beginning with The Lone Wolf Spy Hunt with Ida Lupino and Rita Hayworth, and he starred as detective Philo Vance in two films in that series, 1934’s The Dragon Murder Case and 1939’s The Gracie Allen Murder Case. In 1923, he married Helen Barbara Nelson; Mrs. Helen B. Krech – who also survived him – was three years his senior. Warren William died on 24 September 1948 in Hollywood, California of multiple myeloma.