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'Bill & Ted's' Grim Reaper Is a Vegetarian and Songwriter

Faces . . .

July 27, 1991|SHARON BERNSTEIN

If you've seen "Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey," you already know that the Grim Reaper has a Czechoslovakian accent. But did you know he was a vegetarian?

William Sadler, who plays the Grim One, has made his reputation playing villains (he was the evil Col. Steward in "Die Hard 2" and portrayed a blackmailer in "The Hot Spot"). But offscreen, the 37-year-old Venice resident is a vegetarian who loves to play the guitar and write country music.

"I started writing songs when I was in 'The Hot Spot,' " the blue-eyed actor said over coffee at the Marina Coffee Roaster, where he can be found most mornings for a cup of joe and most Wednesday nights playing the open mike. "I was playing a Texas hillbilly named Frank Sutton and I was in Austin, Tex., trapped in a hotel room for two months."

Sadler grew up on a 13-acre Christmas tree farm in Upstate New York. Because there wasn't much farming involved in the traditional sense--"Once we planted the trees, they just grew, and then people came to cut them down"--his father worked as a milkman for a local dairy.

At 16, he gave himself the moniker of Banjo Bill Sadler and embarked on a short-lived career as a banjo-playing stand-up comedian. That ended, he said, after an ill-fated evening in the nightclub of a local hotel.

"The room was really packed, with about 200 people, and I really had them," Sadler said, leaning closer, his expressive face soft with remembering. "Then I launched into my doctor jokes--really bad, Henny Youngman kind of jokes about doctors--and the room went silent. They were all proctologists."

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