William (Bill) J. Norris (1945-2021)
Bill Norris was known as a Chicago theater legend since the 70s – an actor, Loyola University teacher and playwright - from appearing in Organic Theater’s legendary sci-fi serial “WARP!” to his notable turn as the first Scrooge in Goodman Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” (credited with one of the performances that made the show an annual Goodman tradition).
Northlight Theater Artistic Director B.J. Jones called him ‘one of the founding fathers of the Chicago Theater movement.’; Goodman Theatre’s Robert Falls called him “a brilliant actor.”
In the 1970s, he appeared with Joe Mantegna in Organic Theater’s “The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit”, and touring productions “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” and “Bloody Bess,” a pirate play written by Mr. Norris. He was in the Organic’s original staging of Stuart Gordon’s “Warp!” and its Broadway run, as well as Dennis Zacek’s Victory Gardens ‘The Caretaker’ alongside Fank Galati, for which he won The Jeff award. Bill’s 1978 play “Dillinger” at Victory Gardens starred a young William Peterson.
Over a career of nearly 40 years, Mr. Norris performed at Goodman Theatre, Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire, Steppenwolf Theatre, Peninsula Players Theatre, Northlight Theatre, Victory Gardens, Next Theater Co, Writers Theater, A Red Orchid, and Oak Park Theater Festival.
Young Bill grew up in Morgan Park and attended St. Cajetan grade school. During his high school years, he studied at a Franciscan seminary.
Bill received many awards for his work as an actor, director and writer, including an Emmy, a Joseph Jefferson Award and five Artisans.