He knew Hollywood inside and out but really slipped up in the 1980s when he gave away the ending to one of our all-time classic movies.

Any Michigander who was around in the 70s and 80s and worth their salt must know who Bill Kennedy was. Michigan TV audiences knew him as the host of an afternoon movie show, presenting various classic films, many  from the 40s and 50s.

Bill began hosting the movie program in 1956 as Bill Kennedy’s Showtime out of CKLW in Windsor, Ontario. In 1969 he moved his program quarters to Detroit’s WKBD and in 1972 changed the title to Bill Kennedy at the Movies.

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If he wasn’t too crazy about the movie he was showing, he would tell you (“this is one of the most boring movies ever made”). The show was mostly live. During the film segments he would take phone calls from viewers with Hollywood questions and answer them during the next live break. I was watching the show one afternoon while he was showing the 1941 film Citizen Kane. Someone called halfway thru the movie and asked Bill “just what is this ‘rosebud’ they keep talking about throughout the movie?” So in the next live break, Bill reads the viewer’s question...AND THEN GIVES THE ANSWER LIVE ON THE AIR. For those of you who haven’t seen the film, I won’t ruin the ending for you, but that’s exactly what Bill did. Phone calls poured into the station, yelling and 'reaming Bill a new one' for giving away the ending before the movie was over. On his next live segment, he sheepishly admitted what happened and said to the TV audience, “I thought everyone knew what Rosebud was!”

Bill was born in 1908 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio; while in his 20s, he got his first taste of media as an announcer on WWJ in Detroit. That did it – the bug bit him and soon he traveled west to Hollywood where he entered the movie business and began appearing in dozens of films as a contract player in supporting roles, beginning in 1941.

Throughout the 1940s and into the late 1960s, Bill appeared in over 70 movies and approximately 30 television programs. Not all the roles were supporting characters – he did get a good handful of ‘leading man’ roles as well.

In 1952, he became the announcer for TV’s The Adventures of Superman - “faster than a speeding bullet – more powerful than a locomotive – able to leap tall buildings in a single bound...” Yep, that was Bill Kennedy.

After 27 years of hosting his movie shows in Detroit, he called it quits and moved to Florida in 1983.

The charm he had in the 1940s as a handsome actor turned into a kind of gruffness by the 1970s. Not mean, just gruff but lovable...and although he could sometimes come across as a bit obstinate, people loved him and remember his show with fondness.

Bill Kennedy passed away on January 27, 1997 from emphysema at age 88.

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