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|Also Known As:||Donald Billett||Died:|
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American producer-director of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s began his career as an actor in the 60s, first appearing on screen as Frank Sinatra's ingenuous younger brother in "Come Blow Your Horn" (1963). Bill specialized in likeable but none-too-bright juveniles and young leads. His acting credits include "None But the Brave" (1965), "You're A Big Boy Now" (1966), "Ice Station Zebra" (1968), "Shampoo" (1975, an especially enjoyable performance), and "Pee-wee's Big Adventure" (1985). Bill continued to act in TV-movies, miniseries, and guest spots though with decreasing frequency since the mid-80s.
Bill moved into production in the early 70s, co-founding Bill/Phillips Productions with Julia and Michael Phillips in 1971. The company's first released production was the Jane Fonda/Donald Sutherland vehicle, "Steelyard Blues" (1973) and that same year, they scored a huge success with the Oscar-winning "The Sting," starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. He subsequently formed his own company, Tony Bill Productions, but, with the Phillipses was involved in translating what would become Paul Schrader's first produced screenplay into one of the classic American films of the 70s, Martin Scorsese's "Taxi Driver" (1976).
Bill's output as a producer-director has been varied and uneven, ranging from his engaging debut, the sensitive teen comedy-drama, "My Bodyguard" (1980), to the flawed but finely acted "Five Corners" (1987), to Dudley Moore vehicles like "Six Weeks" (1982) and "Crazy People" (1990). He has also directed TV-movies, pilots, an episode of Shelley Duvall's "Faerie Tale Theater" and commercials. In the 90s, Bill's features continued to demonstrate his interest in mainstream character-driven narratives. "Untamed Heart" (1993), an impressively sincere post-teen romance with surprisingly dark undertones, starred Christian Slater, Marisa Tomei and Rosie Perez. That same year, Bill helmed "A Home of Our Own," a defiantly hokey but touching slice of Americana about a plucky single Mom (Kathy Bates) and her "tribe" of six kids struggling to make ends meet in 1950s Idaho.
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