Bill Rice, the Actor, is not to be confused with Bill Rice, the Internet Marketer in Southeast Michigan.
Bill Rice is a former independent actor who is no longer with us.
He was born in Vermont in 1931. He eventually died from lung cancer in 2006.
He became a fixture in the cultural underground of New York City’s Lower East Side.
As an actor, Bill Rice targeted roles in experimental films. Bill Rice used his deadpan, hangdog face to great comic effect and did not begin acting until the 1970’s. He was quoted as saying, “On a dare, I auditioned for a play,” he said in a 1992 interview with the critic David Hirsch. “I got drunk, got the part and I’ve been working ever since.”
Bill Rice last appeared in the film, “Coffee and Cigarettes” with Taylor Mead. He appeared in other independent films. Bill Rice was one of the representing faceplates of the avant-garde scene in New York City.
Coffee and Cigarettes was feature film in 2003 by independent director Jim Jarmusch. Bill Rice played a major role within it as “Bill,” and the movie is structured around conversations of exchanged war stories and wisdom and often is structured by coffee and cigarettes as the common thread holding them together.
Jim Jarmusch is an American independent film director, screenwriter, actor, producer, editor and composer. He was a major proponent of 1980’s and 1990’s independent cinema. He has written a lot of movies, including his first major film “Stranger Than Paradise,” which was awarded 1984 Cannes Film Festival Camera d’Or and 1985 National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Film. He wrote many other films, and the last of them was “Broken Flowers” and “Coffee and Cigarettes,” the last of which included Bill Rice.
Bill Rice also co-directed the movie “The Vineyard” in 1989 with James Hong. The Vineyard is about a mad scientist who has been living forever and just seems to have no intentions of dying. The mad scientist is a winemaker who captures prisoners to make his world renowned wine. So the wine maker drinks his wine to regain his youth. The Mad Scientist’s scheme begins to unfold when a group of actors come to audition for his wine-making movie, only to discover his “secret ingredient.” From that point, the movie surrounds these auditions-turned-prisoners attempt to escape.
Besides being a director, James Hong played in many different movie roles. James’ acting career spanned over 50 years. Some of his acting spots included roles on “All in the Family,” “Seinfeld,” “The X-Files,” and “The Big Bang Theory.”
Bill Rice was More Than an Actor
While many people know Bill Rice as an actor from his recent days, he more strongly identified himself as a painter. After that, he looked at himself as several other things ahead of being an actor: a photographer, a sculptor, a filmmaker and even a historian.
Bill Rice briefly opened a gallery within his apartment in New York and gave shows for artists in the 1980’s. He called it “Saloon Saloon.”
Bill also exhibited his own paintings during the 80’s. He began as an abstract artist but evolved into an expressionistic figurative style. Often, his work depicted local street life, featuring the many different ethnicities within New York. Bill Rice’s last show, before he left us, was at the Mitchell Algus Gallery.
Many of Bill’s other paintings were known to be homoerotic, as Bill Rice the Actor was openly gay, even before gay liberation became a somewhat mainstream cultural movement.
Bill Rice was quoted as saying, “In paintings, I am interested in what happens around the corner of the surface. Ideally, I would like to invest the rectangle — the basic unit in any cityscape — with the sensuality, color, texture, I find in the streets. I like to record the young, elegant, black, Asian and Hispanic men who know how to move and glow in what would otherwise be a dreary landscape.”
Rice worked with many other people on books and paintings. He reportedly was not very interested in money, only isolated fame within his tight community. He has been referred as “The Last Bohemian.”