Austin Willis Biography
Alexander Austin Willis was a Canadian actor and television host, born on September 30, 1917, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to parents Alexander Samuel and Emma Graham (Pushie) Willis. With an older brother who was a radio broadcaster, it’s no surprise that Willis found himself drawn to the entertainment industry.
Willis made his debut in the film industry in 1945, with Guests of Honour. His last two films, 1985’s Kane & Abel and 1986’s The Boy in Blue, demonstrated his range and versatility as an actor.
However, it was his appearance as Simmons in the James Bond film Goldfinger that earned him international recognition. Interestingly, he was initially set to play the character of Felix Leiter, but he swapped roles with fellow Canadian actor Cec Linder at the last minute.
Throughout his career, Austin Willis enjoyed a varied and successful career on Canadian television. From the early science-fiction series Space Command to hosting Cross-Canada Hit Parade, his work earned him a dedicated following. However, it was his role as the host of the humorous game show This Is the Law that endeared him to a new generation of fans in the 1970s.
In 2002, Austin Willis was recognized for his contributions to the entertainment industry when he was made a Member of the Order of Canada. He was married twice in his life, with his first marriage to Canadian actress Kate Reid lasting from 1953 to 1962. They had two children together. Willis later married Gwen LaForgy in 1984, and they remained together until his death in 2004 at the age of 86.