William Forrest, the immaculately groomed, stern but pleasant military officer in a series of World War II films who appeared in almost 200 pictures over 30 years, has died in Santa Monica. Forrest, whose final appearance was believed to have been in "The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker" in 1971, was 86. He died last Sunday.
Forrest was a star athlete at Princeton University who started acting at Pasadena Playhouse in 1938. His first film credits came in 1940, when he made "Lone Wolf Meets a Lady" and three other pictures.
For many years he averaged five or more films a year. The sophisticated character actor usually was cast in various positions of authority or as second romantic leads in such pictures as "Here Comes Mr. Jordan," "Life Begins for Andy Hardy," "Meet John Doe," "Sun Valley Serenade," "They Died With Their Boots On," "Laura," "Wilson" and "Anchors Aweigh."
Others were "The Jolson Story," "Till the Clouds Roll By," "Miracle on 34th Street," "Fort Apache," "Dead Reckoning," "The Story of Will Rogers," "The Eddie Cantor Story," "Court Martial of Billy Mitchell" and dozens more.
On television he was seen as the fort commander on "The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin," the 1954-59 series. He is survived by his wife, Wilhelmina, two sons, a daughter and four grandchildren.