Willard King Bradley – Biography

Silent film scenario writer Willard King Bradley in 1916 Willard King Bradley (1897 – aft 1954) was an author, silent film screenwriter and playwright born and educated in New York. In his book, Inside Secrets of Photoplay Writing, Willard King Bradley suggested that he was born in 1897. He reminisced about his childhood on Renwick Street in Manhattan. No ‘Bradleys’ have been found on Renwick Street in the 1910 census, but the neighborhood is very close to King Street. No vital or military records have been found in his name to date, which may lead one to conjecture that “Willard King Bradley” is a pseudonym for the writer.

Photo Playwright magazine reported in 1912 that he founded the Bradley Film Manufacturing Company, “Will K. Bradley, magazine writer and photoplaywright, with a few other picture men of New York, are backing the new venture. Bradley announces that he will probably be able to furnish the new company with all the scenarios it will need, as he has about two hundred or more in preparation. The ‘Bradleyized’ picture should be a distinct novelty.” He would have been about 16 at the time. (Or there was a third Bradley!)

In 1916, Universal paid Willard King Bradley $1,200 for an eight-page scenario for The Beloved Imp. It was a record at the time, impressive for a young author, especially when considering it was twice the average per capita income. He was referred to as the ‘mayor of Greenwich Village’ and ‘king of Greenwich Village’ in several articles, and listed as the publisher of The Greenwich Village Saturday Night.

Two years later, Canadian socialite Beverly Bruce staged a contest for for her maiden starring vehicle. She had worked her way up from beauty contests to vaudeville and stage plays, and wanted to be in pictures. Willard King Bradley won the $500 prize for his scenario of Letitia for Happiness. They would work together again on his most successful film, Empty Arms (1920). She died from lung cancer in 1925, and to her Bradley dedicated his book, Secrets of Photoplay Writing.

Willard King Bradley was active in the burgeoning film industry at the same time as artist Will H. Bradley. Both men went by — and were sometimes credited as — “Will Bradley” and “William Bradley.” Adding to the confusion, in 1921 Willard King Bradley maintained an office in the same building as Arrow Film Corporation, Will H. Bradley’s film distributor!

Willard King Bradley, of New York City, is the guest of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Lane of Clinton Avenue, where he is hoping to remain all summer. Twelve years ago Mr. Bradley passed his vacation period here and had a real mountain experience. Since those days he has passed from the boy period into the man period and has a history worth writing about. In those days he was known to a few. In these days he is known to many. He is now the author of “Empty Arms,” “Idle Hands,” “The Sidewalks of New York ” and other famous photoplays and of “Inside Secrets of Photoplay Writing,” a book which has just been published by Funk & Wagnalls.

Coincident with the appearance of “Inside Secrets of Photoplay Writing” he discussed its subject from radio station WEAF and shortly afterwards was the guest of honor at the Westchester Arts Club. He is a frequent contributor to Life, Judge, the International Book Review and The Literary Digest, in addition to writing for the screen. The Literary Digest recently printed for the second time his sonnet, “To a Departed Author,” a tribute to O. Henry, which first appeared in the New York World last November. So, it will be seen that Willard King Bradley is a prince as well as a King.

— Republican Watchman, 1926

Filmwork (partial)
His Madonna, (1912, scenario)
Main 4400 (1916, story)
The Beloved Imp (1916, scenario, he was paid $1200, a record at the time)
Rose of Bohemia (N.D., scenario)
Letitia for Happiness (1918, scenario)
Empty Arms (1920, story)
Idle Hands (1921, script)
Sidewalks of New York (1923, script)
Web of Fate (1927, script)

Articles, Stories & Books (partial)
“Think in Pictures,” The Editor, 7 Jan 1921, pg 104.
“Continuity,” The Writers Monthly, Jan 1921
“The Golden Bullet,” Breezy Stories, Aug 1921
“Lovejoy’s Vampire,” Breezy Stories, Aug 1922
“The Green Slip,” Breezy Stories, Sep 1922
“The Vehicle,” Breezy Stories, Oct 1922
“Page Ponce de Leon,” Breezy Stories, Nov 1922
“The Hotel Register Wife,” Breezy Stories, Dec 1922
“Cigarettes,” Droll Stories, May 1923
“Habit,” Droll Stories, Jul 1923
“Ten Thousand Dollars,” Droll Stories, Sep 1923
“The Miracle Worker,” syndicated by Western Newspaper Union, 1925
“Summer Stars,” Love Story Magazine, 20 Jun 1925
“The Diamond of Destiny,” Love Story Magazine, 18 Jul 1925
“February,” Love Story Magazine, 13 Feb 1926
“To My Valentine,” Love Story Magazine, 13 Feb 1926
Inside Secrets of Photoplay Writing, 1926. A collection of his published articles.
“The Crucible of Courage,” syndicated by Western Newspaper Union, Oct 1926
“The First Star,” Love Story Magazine, 29 Oct 1927

Ref: The Photo Playwright (Boonville, IN), vol 1, no 5, Aug 1912, pg 18; “Universal Pays $1,200 for Synopsis,” Moving Picture World, 19 Aug 1916, pg 1221; Bradley, Willard King, Inside Secrets of Photoplay Writing, New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1926; Republican Watchman (Monticello NY), vol 101, no 25, 28 May 1926, pg 8.


Citation: Lindsay, Martin S. Willard King Bradley – Biography. Website: WillBradley.com. Accessed 19 Jun 2019, <https://willbradley.com/work/film/willard-king-bradley/>. Bibliography. References.