HARRIS, William Robert, better known as Billy Bevan was born in Orange, Australia on 29 September 1887. Billy was the son of Bevan Harris and Marion I Torpy who was the youngest daughter of James Torpy. James Torpy was a miner, hotel-keeper and Mayor or Orange in 1879-1880.
Billy learnt much of his career as a youth performing in Australian light opera. He then travelled to Canada and the US with Pollards Opera Company. He started a film career in approximately 1916 as a pantomimist. From 1920 – 1929 Billy starred in many Keystone silent films. The introduction of talking pictures took their toll on many careers of the silent film.
In 1929 he became a character actor. Some of his later films were in 1930 – Journey’s End, 1933 – Alice in Wonderland, 1944 – National Velvet and many others.
Billy also owned a citrus and avocado farm in Escondido, California. He died at Escondido, California, on 26 November 1957, virtually forgotten in his home country.
Billy Bevan was described by film historian Kalton C. Lahue:
“Bevan was a comedian who worked for his laughs and worked hard. He was a dumpy little fellow full of self-assurance, his bush moustache being his greatest asset, With it, he could impersonate a Wall Street banker and look the part. Without it, he seemed almost a different person and not nearly so humorous. The moustache added just the correct amount of dignity to Billy’s bearing to make the comedy action that much more ridiculous and, in turn, funnier”.