Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Kennedy, Bill

“Bill Kennedy at the Movies” was a staple on Detroit television—first on CKLW-TV (Channel 9) during the 1950s and 1960s, then later on WKBD-TV (Channel 50).  Host Bill Kennedy called upon his knowledge as a Hollywood actor during the 1940s to supplement his commentary about each day’s film and viewers found his honesty and deadpan style refreshing.

Willard “Bill” Kennedy was born in 1908 in Cleveland Heights, Ohio and first came to Detroit during the 1930s as an announcer on WWJ-AM. He moved to Hollywood during the 1940s, where he enjoyed moderate success. He appeared in more than 45 films, including Mr. Skeffington (1944) with Bette Davis and Claude Rains and Joan of Arc, (1948) where he lit Ingird Bergman’s Joan on fire.

Perhaps his most famous role was on television’s “Adventures of Superman.” It was his voice announcing “It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman!” at the beginning of each episode. The program ran on television stations nationwide between 1952 and 1958.

Kennedy’s work on Detroit television was remarkable for its style. One camera. One man.  “He carried the program with pure charm,” said Detroit TV producer Tom DeLisle.  After retiring in 1983, Kennedy left Detroit and moved to Florida, where he died in 1997 at age 88.