BILL CAMPBELL Biography - Other artists & entretainers


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William (Billy) Oliver Campbell, an heir to the Champion Sparkplug fortune, was born 7 July 1959 in Charlottesville, Virginia. His parents divorced when he was only two. Campbell’s parents each remarried several times and these marriages produced his six half-siblings. During his formative years, Campbell lived on a horse ranch in Charlottesville with his mother then spent summers with his real estate agent dad in Chicago. For his education, Campbell attended the 5th through the 10th grade at Fork Union Military Academy, a private Baptist military school, in near-by Fork Union, Virginia. After leaving Fork Union, he attended Charlottesville’s Western Albemarle High School and graduated in 1979. While at Western Albemarle, Campbell played defensive tackle on the football team, drew cartoons for the school newspaper, and had the distinction of serving as Western Albemarle High’s first mascot. A drama teacher’s ultimatum, “You have a choice. You can go to the principal’s office, or you can come in here and read for a part,” resulted in Campbell being cast in the school production of “The Man Who Came To Dinner.” The years after high school, Campbell fell into a life of “getting drunk and playing rugby.”
In his early 20s, Campbell changed his lifestyle. He moved to Chicago to live with his divorced father and attend the American Academy of Art to become a comic book artist. Halfway through the program, he attended an acting class with a friend and came to the realization that acting was his calling. He enrolled at the Ted Liss Studio for the Performing Arts in Chicago. During his second year, Campbell made his professional acting debut in “Dungeon Master,” an improvisational sword and sorcery theatre extravaganza. Around this same time, he began taking classes at the acclaimed Players Workshop of Second City in Chicago.
Prior to his 25th birthday, Campbell moved to the West Coast to pursue his professional career. In 1984, he got a small part on “Family Ties” followed shortly with a guest role on “Hotel.” It was about this time he auditioned for “Dynasty” and won the role of Luke Fuller, Steven Carrington’s lover. In 1986, Campbell was cast as TV-series regular Joey Indeli on NBC’s “Crime Story.” This drama, set in 1960s Chicago, followed a group of Private detectives who sought to bring down a Mob boss. Soon after “Crime Story” was canceled, he guest-starred on an episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Still cautious at making a living at acting, Campbell took an unusual approach to his career and chose parts that he felt would not be successful. In 1990, he appeared in a pilot for a potential ABC series, “Checkered Flag,” about the life of a race car team.
Campbell’s career got a boost in 1991 when he was cast in the title role of Walt Disney’s “The Rocketeer,” an adaptation of the graphic novel by Dave Stevens. The movie was his feature film debut. While on the set, Campbell and co-star Jennifer Connelly began a romantic relationship, which lasted five years. Campbell followed with roles in “The Night We Never Met” and “Bram Stoker’s Dracula.”
In 1992, Campbell moved to New York to act on the stage. In the Spring of 1992, he made his Broadway debut as Laertes in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of “Hamlet.” After a short stint on the New York Stage, Campbell was cast in the lead role of ABC’s 1993 detective show “Moon over Miami.” The show, about a private detective who teams with an heiress to solve cases in South Florida, was short lived. “Moon Over Miami” never found its target audience and was canceled after thirteen episodes.
After 1993, Campbell worked steadily appearing in such films as “Gettysburg,” “Lover’s Knot,” “The Cold Equations,” “Brylcreem Boys,” “Jungle Book II,” “Max Q,” “Tales of the City,” and its sequel “More Tales of the City.” Campbell was not only successful in the mediums of TV and film, but also on the stage. He appeared in productions of “The Taming of The Shrew,” “Backbone of America,” “Macbeth,” “Carousel,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “The Tempest,” and “Guys and Dolls.” In 1996, Campbell received the Ovation Best actor Award for his work in the Howard Fine Theatre’s production of “Fortinbras.”
Campbell’s work in the late 1990s included guest starring on Showtime’s “Dead Man’s Gun” where he played a hired gun in the old west. The role of hired gun was a departure from the character he played in the “Fraiser” episode ‘The Perfect Guy.’ By 1999, many agreed Campbell was indeed “the perfect guy” when ABC cast him as divorced dad Rick Sammler in “Once and Again.” Campbell garnered exceptional notices for his work on “Once and Again.” He received the 2000 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Male performer in a new series as well as a nominations for the 2000 Golden Globes as Best Actor in a Drama series and the 2000 TV Guide Awards Favorite Male Performer in a New Series. In addition to his role as Rick Sammler, Campbell directed and starred in a public service announcement for “Share Our Strength,” an organization dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger especially among children in the United States. The PSA aired during the 2000 Fiesta Bowl.
The warm reception “Once and Again” received from critics and fans earned the series a slot on ABC’s prime-time schedule for 2000-2001. Not only did the show get picked up by the network for another year but also led to more work for Campbell. He was again cast as Dr. Jon Fielding in “Further Tales of the City,” the third installment of Armistead Maupin’s series. Campbell was also cast as Moses for NBC’s miniseries “In the Beginning.” Even Campbell himself admits being cast as Moses was an odd choice but he felt the role was an interesting challenge.
The never-married Campbell, who resides in Los Angeles, is an avid rugby player. Campbell is guarded about his private life however, he admits his shy approach to dating earned him the nickname “Flounder” from his siblings. Campbell is a self-described “Civil War nut.” His love of history is evident with his exceptional portrayals of a 1930s stunt pilot, a 1960s cop, a World War II prisoner of war, and historical figure John Macy. Campbell, by his own admission, dislikes flying. He takes great pride in his family’s Scottish heritage and often wears the family plaid. Billy Campbell seems unaffected by stardom and remains the shy gentleman from Virginia.


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