William Finley (1940-2012)

William Finley, star of our beloved ‘Phantom of the Paradise’, passed away suddenly after a brief hospitalization on Saturday, April 14th in New York.  He was 71.

He is survived by his wife Susan and son Dashiell.

William Finley in Winnipeg at Phantompalooza, April 2005We had the pleasure of bringing Mr. Finley to Winnipeg twice, where he was Phantompalooza’s guest of honour (with Gerrit Graham) in 2005, and part of the entire cast reunion in 2006.  We will remember him fondly as a real trouper – game for anything – and always willing to do one more interview and sign one more autograph for the Winnipeg fans, whom he adored.  We will miss him terribly.

Notable tributes:



3 Responses to “William Finley (1940-2012)”
  1. Joanna Leigh says:


    Thanks so much for not only sharing those memories but helping to create them in the first place!

    As life would go, I was sooo busy in the middle of apartment renovations that I didn’t have the time to sit and really process things! Now that things have settled down, I’m blogging the recollections I only had the chance to scribble on the go.

    Since then, I’ve been to Swan Archives, where a really nice tribute was posted, complete with some pictures that were shared by William’s friends/family. There is one pic, of Brian as the ‘cinematographer’ for William and Susan’s wedding…he looks like a Rabbi. William’s top hat reminded me of his character, Alistair from The Wedding Party! In that same post, there were also tributes by Jessica Harper, Brian DePalma, Dashiell Finley, and some others that I hope to be able to read soon.

    For my own page, two major influences are mentioned; Jim Henson, who, with the help of the Sesame Street Muppets, taught me how to put letters together that would create words, sentences, and stories, and William Finley, (via Winslow) who taught me HOW to protect those creations (basically by doing just about everything OPPOSITE to what Winslow did!) William might have said something to the effect of, “It’s good that Winslow had the gumption to try to get back his work, but it would have been better if he hadn’t put himself in the place where he HAD TO fight to get it back.”

    If I had to guess, I’m thinking William was glad that he took the risk. From THAT single act of gumption, came Phantompalooza 2 and the mother of all group hugs!

    So, it almost makes sense that a few have quoted a song by a group that Winslow Leach HATED but William Finley was two thirds responsible for putting together….

    “…..through the sacrifice you made. We can’t believe the price you paid….For love…..”

  2. Joanna Leigh says:

    Oh my DOG!!!! Six years ago today would be Phan pal 2! WHERE has the time gone?!?!?

  3. Tracy says:

    How the tears flowed when I heard the news last night. William had been such a huge part of my sad teenage years, and he was always in the corner of my mind.

    He was amazingly gracious to his fans.

    God’s blessings to his dear wife, Susan, and son, Dashiell.

    I’ll never forget you, dear William.

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