Actor William Elliott

William David Elliott (June 4, 1934 – September 30, 1983) was an American actor and jazz musician. He had a recurring role in Bridget Loves Bernie as Otis Foster and a recurring role as Officer Gus Grant in Adam-12. He also appeared in Elvis Presley’s 1969 film Change of Habit.


Elliott was born in Baltimore, Maryland. He spent four years in the United States Navy as an electrician. He later worked for US Steel and left the job. He also turned down an opportunity to study at Massasuchetts Institute of Technology to be a drummer. He later formed his own music group and ended up marrying the background vocalist, Dionne Warwick. Prior to becoming husband and wife, Elliott was at the home of Warwick’s parents to ask for their daughter’s hand. He was invited by her father to have a talk in the living room. Her father knew of Elliott’s reputation of being a ladies man and happened to be cleaning his gun in preparation for a hunting trip. The talk to the future son-in-law may have had an effect on Elliott. They were married in the mid-1960s, and would have two sons, David and Damon. He would divorce, then remarry Warwick. They then divorced for the second time in 1975, ending ten plus years of marriage.

Television work

An early appearance on television was in the series Dragnet. The episode Community Relations: DR-10 aired in 1968 and also featured Don Marshall, Rafer Johnson and O. J. Simpson in a minor role. In the early 1970s, Elliott had a recurring role as Otis Foster in the Bernard Slade-created show Bridget Loves Bernie which starred David Birney and Meredith Baxter. He also had a recurring role as Officer Gus Grant on the Adam-12 TV show.

Film work

He had an early uncredited role as a revolutionary in the Jules Dassin-directed Uptight which was released in 1968. He then played the part of Robbie in the Elvis Presley film Change of Habit which was released in 1969. He subsequently appeared as Leon in The Old Man Who Cried Wolf which starred Edward G. Robinson. The film, released in 1970, also starred Percy Rodrigues and Martin Balsam. It was about an old man who witnessed a murder but nobody believed him. The next film he appeared in was a made-for-television movie, They Call It Murder, which starred Jim Hutton, Robert J. Wilke and Ed Asner. Elliott played the part of Deputy Bob Terry. He played the lead role in the Henry Hathaway film Hangup, released in 1974. In that film he played an honest police officer who comes to grief as he is in love with a drug addict played by Marki Bey. Because Warner Bros. wouldn’t distribute the film, Elliott took charge of it and it was eventually distributed by a lesser-known distributor and pushed as a Blaxploitation film. It failed at the box office and attracted a fair amount of criticism.


Elliott appears on the Together Again! album by Willis Jackson with organist Jack McDuff. His drumming can be heard on four tracks that were recorded in August 1960; three appeared on the “Cookin’ Sherry” album in 1961 (“Mellow Blues”, “Cookin’ Sherry” and “Contrasts”), while the fourth, “Tu’gether”, was not released until the “Together Again!” album in 1964. By 1961 he was backing organist DeeDee Ford along with saxophonist / flautist Joe Thomas. By 1962 Rhoda Scott had taken over for DeeDee Ford, and as the Rhoda Scott Trio the group released two albums – “Hey! Hey! Hey! in 1962 and “Live! at the Key Club” in 1963. In 1964 Elliott and Thomas released their Speak Your Piece album. In 1974, it was announced in the August 3 issue of Billboard that Elliott was opening a studio at the location of the old Brooks Randall Motor Club site at Bronson Avenue and Sunset Boulevard. The studio, which featured recording facilities, a sound stage, rehearsal and dressing rooms, was to cater to the motion picture and recording industry.

Filmography (selected)

Title Year Role Notes
Uptight 1968 Revolutionary Uncredited
Change of Habit 1969 Robbie
Where Does It Hurt? 1972 Oscar the Orderly
Night of the Lepus 1972 Dr. Leopold
Coffy 1973 Carter
Hangup 1974 Ken Ramsey
Title Episode # Role Director Year Notes #
Dragnet 1967 Community Relations: DR-10 Alec Harper Jack Webb 1968 Season 3, Episode 3
Love, American Style Love and the Only Child, Love and the Wig Driver #2 Terry Becker, Bruce Bilson 1971 Only in Love and the Wig segment
Night Gallery Death in the Family, The Merciful, Class of ’99, Witches’ Feast 3rd Trooper 1971 Only in Death in the Family segment
O’Hara, U.S. Treasury Operation: Hijack Les Williams Sam Freedle 1971
The Bold Ones: The New Doctors Moment of Crisis Admissions clerk Michael Caffey 1972
The Rookies Concrete Valley, Neon Sky Truck Michael Caffey 1972
Bridget Loves Bernie Bridget Loves Bernie Otis Foster Richard Kinon 1972 Season 1, Episode 1
Bridget Loves Bernie A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Vatican Otis Foster 1972 Season 1, Episode 2
Bridget Loves Bernie Wake Up We’re Getting Married Today Otis Foster Season 1, Episode 3
Bridget Loves Bernie The Last of the Red Hot Playwrights Otis Foster 1972 Season 1, Episode 4
Bridget Loves Bernie Who’s Watching the Store? Otis Foster Le Philips 1972 Season 1, Episode 5
Bridget Loves Bernie The Newlybeds Otis Foster 1972 Season 1, Episode 6
Bridget Loves Bernie Happiness Is Just a Thing Called Moe Otis Foster Season 1, Episode 7 1972
Bridget Loves Bernie Bernie’s Last Stand Otis Foster 1972 Season 1, Episode 8
Bridget Loves Bernie How to Be a Jewish Mother Otis Foster Season 1, Episode 9 1972
Bridget Loves Bernie The Little White Lie That Grew and Grew Otis Foster 1972 Season 1, Episode 2
Bridget Loves Bernie The In-Laws Who Came to Dinner Otis Foster 1972 Season 1, Episode 11
Bridget Loves Bernie The Homecoming Otis Foster 1972 Season 1, Episode 12
Bridget Loves Bernie You Are Cordially Not Invited Otis Foster 1972 Season 1, Episode 13

External Links

Actor William Elliott – Wikipedia

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