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Bill Travers

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Bill Travers Jr.


Bill Travers

Bill Travers Bill Travers Profile BioData Updates and Latest Pictures

Full Name
William Lindon-Travers

3 January 1922 (
Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, England

March 29, 1994, Dorking, United Kingdom

Virginia McKenna (m. 1957–1994)

Born Free, The Smallest Show on, Ring of Bright Water, Bhowani Junction, Duel at Diablo

Similar People
Virginia McKenna, Basil Dearden, Joy Adamson, Linden Travers, Denholm Elliott

Organizations founded
Born Free Foundation

Bill Travers

William Inge Lindon-Travers MBE (3 January 1922 – 29 March 1994) was a Special Forces Army officer, English actor, screenwriter, director and animal rights activist, known professionally as Bill Travers.


Bill Travers bill travers The Timothy Carey Experience

Bill travers tribute

Early life

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Travers was born in Sunderland, County Durham, the son of Florence (née Wheatley) and William Halton Lindon-Travers. He and his sister Linden (1913–2001) both became actors, as did Linden's daughter Susan.

War service

Bill Travers Bill Travers Wikipedia

William Ingle Linden-Travers enlisted as a private in the British Army at the age of eighteen, a few months after the outbreak of the Second World War, and was sent to India. Travers was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Indian Army on 9 July 1942 (From the rank of private). He served in the Long Range Penetration Brigade 4th Battalion 9th Gurkha Rifles in Burma, attached to Orde Wingate's staff, during which service he came to know John Masters, who was his brigade major (Travers was later to act in Bhowani Junction, a tale written by Masters). While deep behind enemy lines Major Travers was struck by malaria and volunteered to be left behind in a native Burmese village. To avoid capture he disguised himself as a Chinese national, and walked hundreds of miles through jungle territory until he reached an allied position.

Bill Travers FOOTSTEPS IN THE FOG Bill Travers 1955 Prints

In 1945 Travers was promoted to the rank of major, and he joined Force 136 Special Operations Executive and was parachuted into Malaya. Travers was responsible for training and tactical decisions with the main resistance movement, the communist-led Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA).

Major Travers left the armed forces in 1947.

Acting career

Travers began his acting career on the stage in 1949 then a year later made his film debut. In the mid 1950s his success in Geordie (1955) saw him contracted by MGM who thought he was going to be a big star. They cast him in Bhowani Junction (1956), The Seventh Sin (1957) and The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1957), and tested him for the lead in Ben-Hur (1959). However his MGM films all performed disappointingly at the box office and enthusiasm for Travers in Hollywood cooled.

Travers co-starred with his second wife, Virginia McKenna, in a number of films, most memorably as the conservationist George Adamson in the highly successful 1966 film Born Free, about which experience the two co-wrote the book On Playing with Lions. The experience made him and his wife very conscious of the many abuses of wild animals in captivity that had been taken from Africa and other natural environments around the world. Together they made a number of films around the subject such as 1969's Ring of Bright Water and An Elephant Called Slowly, for both of which he co-wrote the screenplay and acted. In 1976 he wrote, directed and produced the film Christian the Lion (also known as The Lion Who Thought He Was People).

The importance of animal rights led to Travers and his wife becoming involved in the "Zoo Check Campaign" in 1984 that evolved to their establishing the Born Free Foundation in 1991.

Bill Travers spent his last three years travelling around Europe's slum zoos and a TV documentary that he made exposed the appalling suffering of thousands of animals. Travers died in his sleep in Dorking, Surrey, aged 72. His widow, Virginia McKenna, carries on his work to help suffering animals, as does their son, Will Travers, who is chief executive of the Born Free Foundation.


  • The Wooden Horse (1950)
  • Trio (1950)
  • The Browning Version (1951) (uncredited)
  • Hindle Wakes (1952)
  • The Square Ring (1953)
  • Counterspy (1953)
  • Street of Shadows (1953)
  • Romeo and Juliet (1954)
  • Geordie (1955)
  • Footsteps in the Fog (1955)
  • Bhowani Junction (1956)
  • The Seventh Sin (1957)
  • The Barretts of Wimpole Street as Robert Browning (1957)
  • The Smallest Show on Earth (1957)
  • Passionate Summer (aka Storm Over Jamaica; 1958)
  • The Bridal Path (1959)
  • Gorgo (1961)
  • Two Living, One Dead (1961)
  • The Green Helmet (1961)
  • The Invasion Quartet (1961)
  • The Everglades as Rand in "The Hostage", syndicated US television series (1962)
  • Lorna Doone, as John Ridd, 11 episodes (1963 TV series)
  • Rawhide as Jeremiah O'Neal in "Incident at Two Graves" (1963)
  • Born Free, as wildlife expert George Adamson (1966)
  • Duel at Diablo (1966), as Scotty McAllister. A western starring James Garner and Sidney Poitier.
  • The Lions are Free (1967). Travers plays himself in the real-life sequel to the award-winning film Born Free. With the help of conservationist George Adamson, he goes to a remote area of Kenya, Africa to find the lions who appeared in the film. This is a film with some scenes of George Adamson and Bill interacting with lions who are living free. James Hill who directed Born Free produced this film along with Bill Travers. In November 2006, this film and the film The Lion at World's End were both released on DVD.
  • A Midsummer Night's Dream (1968)
  • An Elephant Called Slowly (1969) Travers plays himself in this lighthearted drama. He and wife Virginia McKenna go to Kenya, to housesit. They encounter some elephants and get advice from their friend and wildlife expert George Adamson. Also starring elephant Eleanor (Daphne Sheldrick orphan) and Pole Pole. Pole Pole's suffering and death at a zoo were to later spur Bill and wife Virginia to form Zoo Check, later called the Born Free Foundation.
  • Ring of Bright Water (1969), as Graham Merrill
  • The Lion at World's End (1971) Travers plays himself in this feature-length film, for the most part filmed as it happened. A London-born lion is taken to Kenya, to live a free life with the help of George Adamson.
  • The Belstone Fox (1973), as Tod
  • To the Manor Born, as Arthur Smith (Tramp) in Tramps and Poachers, late 1970s series 2 number 4
  • Lovejoy, BBC, two episodes 1992
  • References

    Bill Travers Wikipedia

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