Bill Kerr, back in the hot seat

Australian actor Bill Kerr, a sprightly 86 years old, recently recalled his part playing Flt Lt ‘Mick’ Martin in The Dam Busters. Sitting in the restored Lancaster in the Aviation Heritage Museum in Bull Creek, near Perth, WA, he told a reporter from the West Australian that it had been an honour to play the Australian Dambuster:

“But it took two hours of make up, a wig and a moustache before I really looked like Micky Martin,” he said.
A sprightly Kerr, who calls Perth home, took a trip down memory lane this week sitting in the pilot’s seat of the Avro Lancaster housed at the Aviation Heritage Museum in Bull Creek.
“You know the attention to detail in this Lancaster is incredible — they have done a marvellous job restoring her,” he said. “And the attention to detail in the original film was extraordinary. They even put chocks behind my ears so they stood out to look just like Micky Martin’s.”

Kerr also told the paper that he got the job straight off the boat from Australia when his agent drove him directly to Pinewood Studios for a casting session. However, this might be a slight exaggeration since by 1954 he had already been in a number of films, including the only film about Bomber Command to predate The Dam Busters, the under-rated Appointment in London. This was released in 1952 and starred a young Dirk Bogarde. It was written by John Woolridge, who had served as a flight commander in 106 Squadron when Guy Gibson was its commanding officer. Some commentators think that the Bogarde character is based on Gibson.
Bill Kerr’s role in Appointment in London, according to IMDB, was Flt Lt Bill Brown. The cast included other actors on the cusp of a successful career, including Bryan Forbes, Sam Kydd and Richard Wattis, with the female lead played by the well-established Dinah Sheridan.
John Woolridge not only wrote the script for this film but also, in an unusual combination, its musical score. He was to write more film music over the next few years, before his death in a car crash in 1958. His daughter is the actress Susan Woolridge, well known (in Britain at least) for many TV and film roles.

But it took two hours of make up, a wig and a moustache before I really looked like Micky Martin,” he said.
A sprightly Kerr, who calls Perth home, took a trip down memory lane this week sitting in the pilot’s seat of the Avro Lancaster housed at the Aviation Heritage Museum in Bull Creek.
“You know the attention to detail in this Lancaster is incredible — they have done a marvellous job restoring her,” he said. “And the attention to detail in the original film was extraordinary. They even put chocks behind my ears so they stood out to look just like Micky Martin’s.”
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7 thoughts on “Bill Kerr, back in the hot seat

  1. Mary Faye Dudley January 31, 2011 / 7:17 pm

    Bill Kerr, or,
    Wee Willie Kerr, or
    whatever name you are going by now, PLEASE contact me as soon as you can. I have been trying to locate you for months and , finally, I think, signed onto your genuine website. Mary Faye, once in London; now living back home in good ole Americus, Georgia.

    • Mary Faye Dudley Powell September 20, 2012 / 3:14 pm

      Currently married two one half years still blushing bride of a superb bigtime daily farmer, my favorite addition tothe farmhouse is a truly well.built milking stool acquired from Wee Willie Kerr at U, Harrow on the Hill, London in the early sixties. Every night I glance at it and smile as I turn off the light. Come on up and over for a visit and you can use it again down at the barn. Mary Faye (now Powell)

  2. Pam Mahoney February 20, 2011 / 8:56 am

    Dear Bill,
    Was reminded of you in watching a programme on UK TV last night about
    Tony Hancock.
    Have very fond memories of you when we were in Compact (Pam Oswald
    in those days). Now married for the 2nd time & living in France -enjoying
    the peace & quiet of the rural life in the Charente (surounded by vineyards,
    sheep etc)
    This is just to let you know that I was thinking of you & to send my very
    best wishes. xxx Pam

  3. Nancy Myers Smith July 3, 2011 / 12:41 pm

    Hi Bill-
    I have been trying to reconnect with Mary Faye Dudley since attending
    the wedding of her beautiful daughter-Antoinetee (Sissy) in Americus
    in the early 80’s-we attended Southwestern at Memphis together-
    Thanks for any assist possible
    Nancy Myers Smith ’61 at now Rhodes -nmsmiami@aol.com

    • Mary Faye July 5, 2011 / 12:46 pm

      Nancy, this is incredible. What a fantastic way to find each other. Isn’t it wonderful to be able to pass a lie detector’s test on the statement that we are Rhodes Scholars?
      I’ll be in touch with you via the email above later today. I’m off for a morning appointment.
      And, by the way, how do we get directly in touch with Bill? He is a wonderful old friend that I have totally lost, but, just as I suspected, is still making those marvelous films at age 86.
      The last time I actually heard from him there was a possibility he was coming to the USA for some production.Mary Faye

  4. Angela M. Page September 8, 2012 / 11:44 pm

    Mr. Kerr,

    You don’t know me, yet you knew my mother Mary Burch. You met when you worked in King’s Lynn, Norfolk. She remembers you fondly, she has misplaced the photograph you gave her back then. You wrote “To Mary my pin up girl”. Is there any chance she can get another photograph of you, it would make her very happy.

    Sincerly
    Angela M. Page

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