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It was expected Bill W. Dodge would end up as an artist of some kind by virtue of his birthplace on February 21, l934: a motion picture sound stage in the Charlie Chaplin Film Studio at the corner of Sunset Boulevard and La Brea Avenue, Hollywood, California.
Dodge's father, George, was a member of Chaplin's lighting crew. As the artist explains: "Mom went to pick up dad from work and, as I tell friends, dad was late and I was early."
Young Bill did try his hand at acting and performed in legitimate theater productions with "Man from Uncle's " Robert Vaughn and "The Beverly Hillbillies" Nancy Kulp. As a result of a small role in a road company of the Broadway hit "Stalag l7" he event got a screen test at Universal Pictures Studio.
"In those days," Dodge explains, "Universal tested almost every attractive young guy or girl who set foot on the local stage. On the day of my test another young man was readying his scene. We chatted. I did my test and he did his. I wasn't a good enough, and while the other guy wasn't much better, he was a hell of a lot better looking than I. Universal signed him to a 7 year contract and renamed him Troy Donahue!"
So Dodge eventually went into Hollywood public relations and discovered then actor and later best-selling poet, Rod McKuen. He also worked with such newcomers as Connie Stevens, Vic Morrow, Robert Blake,Sebastian Cabot, Jonathan Harris and a host of other actors who went as far as Dodge did with his acting career!
Dodge first became interested in painting when a friend gave him a copy of Grandma Moses coffee table book of her folk art paintings. He purchased a set of paints and copies some of Moses pieces. He decided it was more fun to create his own original works. Immediately they began selling to such notable as opera star Beverly Sills, "Bewitched" nose-twitching star Elizabeth Montgomery and Tarzan's "Jane", Maureen O'Sullivan, among many others.
His work was quickly being published as serigraphs, limited edition prints, greeting cards, collector tins and jigsaw puzzles. Reproductions appeared on magazine covers and America's oldest food company, Libby, McNeil and Libby commissioned him to do their noted "Americana" corporate collection. The Nestle' Corporation had him create the 100drth Anniversary painting of their Canadian operations.
In l980 Dodge moved to Carmel,California and owned one of the village's most successful galleries. During that period his reproductions were awarded as prizes on "The Price is Right" and "Wheel of Fortune". For a number of years his pieces appeared as permanent set art on the soap opera "All My Children," and in episode series as "Falcon Crest." His San Francisco serigraph appeared in a key scene with Margo Kidder and Robert Hay in the film comedy, "Trench Coat."
The artist retired from active painting in 2009 when the Columbia River Maritime Museum gave a 50 year retrospective of his work. The museum now owns all the rights to the more than half century of work. During the summer season Dodge appears for the Museum at the Astoria, Oregon Sunday Market to meet the public and help fund raising efforts for the Museum. The artist's permanent home is in Astoria sitting at the edge of the vast Columbia River.