William Reis

The sexuality of William Reis is currently unknown, but is given a page here because he was listed on a ship manifest as traveling with three other men, at least two of which (Gilmor Brown and King Kennedy) are known to have been homosexual and the third suspect.


The birthplace of William E. Rice, Jr in Newcastle, Pennsylvania

William Edward Reis, Jr. was born in Newcastle, Pennsylvania on June 8, 1888 to William and Clara Tranter. His grandfather, George Reis, had founded one of the earliest foundries in the county, the Shenango Iron Works and his father, William Sr, would become President of the Shenango Valley Steel Company. The family moved to a home on Alexadria Court in Pasadena, California some time prior to 1917 when William registered for the draft. William was most likely involved with the early organization of the Pasadena Community Playhouse - as all three of the other men sailing with him in 1924 were involved with that organization, and in 1930, while living in Palm Springs, he listed his occupation as an actor and director of the theater. William passed away April 26, 1965 in Riverside, California.

Ship manifests

S. S. Majestic from New York to Southampton - Aug 12, 1926

Gilmor Brown - actor, 36
King Kennedy - actor, 22
William Edward Reis - student, 38
Maurice Wells - actor, 23

S. S. Belgenland from Antwerp to New York - October 1-11, 1926

Gilmor Brown - 36, single, b June 16, 1890 in New Salem, ND - 251 S. Fair Oaks, Pasadena
Maurice Wells - 22, single, b Aug 9, 1903 in Schuyler, Nebraksa - 765 S. Los Robles, Pasadena
King Kennedy - 22, single, b Dec 1, 1903 in Kokomo, Indiana - 702 Rodeo Dr., Beverly Hills
William Reis - 38, single, b Jun 8, 1888 in Newcastle, PA - 1240 Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena

Vital Records

California Death Index (1940-1997)

William E. Reis
SS# 549-66-6056
Birth: June 8, 1888 in Pennsylvania
Death: April 26, 1965 in Riverside, CA
Mother's maiden name: Tranter

Census Records

Newcastle, Lawrence, Pennsylvania - June 4, 1900

Name Relation Born Father Born Mother Born Occupation
William E. Reis head Feb 1850 in Penn Ohio Ohio Pres Nat Steel Co
Clara Reis wife Jan 1861 in Ohio Ohio Ohio .
Lucy Reis daughter Feb 1885 in Penn Penn Ohio at school
William Reis son June 1888 in Penn Penn Ohio at school
George Reis son June 1889 in Penn Penn Ohio at school
Ada Reis daughter July 1893 in Penn Penn Ohio at school
Virginia Reis daughter Feb 1900 in Penn Penn Ohio .
Margaret Marshall servant Nov 1872 in England England England house keeper
Sadie Bowman nurse Sept 1858 in Penn Penn Penn nurse
William Davis cook Jan 1875 in Virginia S. Carolina Georgia cook

1242 Oak Knoll Ave., Pasadena, Los Angeles, California - January 8, 1920

Name Relation Age Status Born Father Born Mother Born Occupation
Reis, William E. Head 69 married Penn Penn Penn none
Reis, Clare T.? wife 58 married Kentucky England England none
Reis, William E. Jr. son 32 single Penn Penn Kentucky none
Johnston, Ida daughter 24 married Penn Penn Kentucky none
Larson, Ida servant 34 single Sweden Sweden Sweden servant
McKenzie, Kerrina servant 42 single Scotland Scotland Scotland servant
Cederbul?, Helvig servant 52 single Sweden Sweden Sweden servant

San Gorgonio Pass, Palm Springs, Riverside, California - April 8, 1930

Name Relation Age Status Born Father Born Mother Born Occupation
William E. Reis Jr Head 43 single Penn Penn Kentucky actor, director theatre
Joaquin Villemille servant 61 widow France France Philippines chef
Ricardo E. Reyes servant 26 single Philippines Philippines Philippines house man

World War I Draft Registration

William Edward Reis Jr
age 28, born June 8, 1888 in NewCastle, PA
address: 8 Alexandria Court, Pasadena, Cal
dependents: none
marital status: single
tall, medium build, blue eyes, blonde hair.
dated: June 5, 1917

Newspaper Articles

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) - August 29, 1917

"Billy" Reis True Patriot
Former Local Boy In California Prepares To Make Raid On Germans

Unable To Qualify As Soldier, Reis Has Boy Educated To Drive Ambulance.

Out in Pasadena, Cal., the residents are lauded as being 100 per cent patriotic. Exemption claims in this district are almost unknown. The foregoing article, taken from the Los Angeles Examiner, concerns William E. Reis, Jr., formerly of this city, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Reis, who are now residing at Greenwich, Conn. Mrs. Reis built the Reis homestead on East street, now occupied by the family of the late William M. Brown. Of "Billy" as he is familiarly called, the Examiner says the following:

In Draft District 1, in Pasadena, they think the average off claims for exemption runs high.

In District 2 they claim a gorgeous example of persistent patriotism and a low ratio of exempts.

As a matter of fact, a day spent in both camps leave the sense of virile intenseness about Pasadena youth, and to a man who believes that the Germans have been licked for two years that gives assurance of the coup de grace being deftly and largely administered by the American soldier, muy pronto.

it is at the Crown of the Valley that extremes met in realty. One instance was that of William Reis, 28 years old, from New Castle, Pa., and the brother of the two Reis girls, famous for two seasons at the Maryland as belles of performance.

Mr. Reis is known throughout Pasadena as "Billy", he is very rich, a clever kid at dancing, or polo, tennis or bridge; in the center of the ring at either a ten fight or a real fight; he likes Pasadena and has stayed there after the creme de la riche had been skinned by the coming of summer, and registered as living at the Maryland.

And, of course, "Billy" was drawn, and the doctors found him physically about ten points plus perfect, and he went back to the Maryland grinning his joy, for even with his name he thinks about the same, and a little bit more, the same as the rest of us, about the Kafseriles?, and he felt so good that when he walked into the hotel and met Chief Bellboy McCaffery, he said, "Mack, I wish you could come along."

And Mack said, "I'd give a leg to go with you, Mr. Reis." And "Billy" said, "By Jinks (or whatever the favorite exclamation is in New Castle), Mack, you shall come." And when it was found that "Mack" could not go as a soldier, "Billy" drew out his check book and with it made all arrangements for Mack to complete his education as an expect chauffeur: and arrange matters further so that Mack will drive an American ambulance up to the front where "Billy" will be bombing and gassing and going over the top - and, well, that's the end of the first chapter of the story of "Billy" and Mack and here's hoping that the next will end like a fairy story, and that both will come back with medals jingling and many notches on their six-shooters.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) - June 19, 1920

Reis Is Donor Of Big Library
Former New Castle Man Gave Fine Gift To Allegheny College

Few colleges in the country have more beautiful buildings set in more artistic surroundings than has Allegheny College at Meadville, Pa. This institution celebrated five years ago its one hundredth anniversary. At about that time there was opened for use upon a most commanding position looking down over the entire campus, a library building, which was a fit companion for Cochran Hall, whose doner is well-known in New Castle, and for the Foreign Memorial Chapel.

The name of the builder of the Library building has been withheld until this week. At the commencement exercises it was announced that the library building was the gift of William E. Reis of Pasadena, Cal. Mr. Reis was for many years a resident of New Castle and was president of the Shenango Valley Steel Company, which constructed and put in operation the steel mill now operated here by the Carnegie Steel Company. Mr. Reis is an alumnus of Allegheny College and the announcement that he is the donor of the magnificent library building at Allegheny College will be of interest to people of this city.

New Castle News (New Castle, Pennsylvania) - September 11, 1923

William E. Reis Here On Visit

William E. Reis, a former well known resident of New Castle, and now a resident of Pasadena, Calif., is visiting here, the guest of his brother, Jared M. B. Reis. Mr. Reis is remembered as the man who built the Shenango Tin Mill, and part of the steel mill. At one time he was president of the National Steel Company before its assimilation by the United States Steel Corporation.

Pasadena Independent (Pasadena, California) - January 12, 1960

Playhouse Father Dies at Resort
Gilmor Brown, Emeritus Head, Succumbs After Heart Attack

Gilmor Brown, founder and president emeritus of the Pasadena Playhouse, died of a heart attack early yesterday morning in Palm Springs. Brown was visiting in the desert resort home of William E. Reis when he collapsed. He was treated by a local physician but died shortly after Sunday midnight.

The exact age of the theatrical personality was not known. Brown was one of the few men who kept his name out of public records, including Who's Who. Associates thought him to be about 80. Brown made his home here at 391 S. Madison Ave. Funeral arrangements have not been announced. Brown was born near New Salem, ND. He first took part in amateur theatrical work in Denver, Colo. After high school Brown studied theatrical arts in Chicago, toured with several acting companies and eventually formed his own repertory company. His father, mother, brother and sister-in-law took part in the productions.

The family arrived in Pasadena with a troupe of actors known as the Savoy Players in 1916. In 1918 Brown founded the Pasadena Community Playhouse Assn. Six years later he started his famous Playbox Theater. Once the Playhouse was established, Brown urged the governing board to allow him to establish a College of Theatre Arts with the Playhouse. This was done in 1925. In order to give students acting experience the Balcony Theaters were created. Brown played many roles on the stage in his lifetime. Three of these attracted great attention. These were his Falstaff in "The Merry Wives of Windsor;" the characterization of Tiberius in the first production of Eugene O'Neill's "Lazarus Laughed;" and the role of Vershinin in "The Armored Train." Brown created the Midsummer Drama Festivals at the Playhouse and was responsible for the One-Act Play Tournament staged at the local theater.

He had membership in numerous theatrical groups and authored a textbook on play direction and four stage plays. He had been decorated by the French government. In 1926 Brown received the Arthur Noble gold medal award as Pasadena's "most useful citizen." Under Brown's direction the Pasadena Playhouse is the only American theater to produce all of Shakespeare's plays. Brown produced more than 3,000 theatrical events including 175 world premieres.

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