Remembering Bill Clotworthy

Author, lecturer,  advertising and television executive — and longtime Westporter — Bill Clotworthy died peacefully in hospice in Salt Lake City last week. He was 95 years old.

A New Jersey native, his first job after college was as a page for NBC in New York. After 8 months he began working with BBD&O, and had a front row seat at birth of the then-new medium of live television. He worked with Groucho Marx, Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Stan Freburg, Jack Webb, Robert Montgomery and Jack Benny, and on “Your Hit Parade” and “Your Show of Shows.”

He moved to Los Angeles in the 1950’s and was the agency rep on shows including “General Electric Theater,” where he became friends with host Ronald Reagan.

In New York in the 1970’s, Bill returned to NBC in the Standards and Practices Department. He was the on-set censor for “Saturday Night Live,” where the cast and crew affectionately referred to him as “Doctor No.” It was the same Studio 8H that he worked in as a page in 1948.

After retiring in 1991 he pursued his interest in history. He became an author and lecturer, writing several books about George Washington and the first ladies, as well as guidebooks on presidential homes and sites. He published a memoir: “Saturday Night Live: Equal Opportunity Offender.”

Bill Clotworthy

A U.S Navy veteran, Bill attended Wesleyan College University and Yale University before graduating from Syracuse University with a degree in theater. He was a member of Sigma Chi, and loved singing “The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi” to anyone who had the misfortune of being within earshot.

He was also an enthusiastic genealogist for over 50 years, tracing his family roots back to the 11th century in England, as well as the first permanent English settlement in North America at Jamestown. He was a proud member of the Sons of the American Revolution.

A resident of Westport for 24 years, he served on the Representative Town Meeting. He later lived in North Carolina and Virginia, before settling in Salt Lake City in 2019.

Bill was dignified, self deprecating, funny and considered puns to be the highest form of humor. He completed the New York Times crossword puzzle every Sunday, and enjoyed singing and dancing to big band music.

Bill is preceded in death by his wives Joyce and Angela, and his younger brother, Olympic diving champion Bob Clotworthy

He is survived by his wife Jo Ann; sons Robert and Donald; daughters Lynne and Amy; stepsons Peter and Bradford; grandson Will; nieces Susan, Jodi and Erin, and nephew Bruce.

Bill was proud that over his life he donated more than 5 gallons of blood. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations (either monetary or pints of blood) to the American Red Cross.

(Click here for a fascinating interview with Bill Clotworthy. Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)


5 responses to “Remembering Bill Clotworthy

  1. Is that Wesleyan University? Wesleyan College is an all-female institution in Macon, Georgia. — Scott Brodie, Wesleyan (University!) ’74

  2. My dad’s company owned NBC. He offered me a job as a page for the Johnny Carson show. Never took it. Great entry level job. That’s how Regis started.

  3. Rick Leonard

    Thanks, Dan and thanks Dick Lowenstein for the hat tip. I worked with Bill in my first job after college in NBC’s Broadcast Standards department. I was envious of his involvement with “Saturday Night Live,” a very fun area back then. SNL kept him on his toes in consistently pushing the envelope for what they wanted to say and do each week. Some great memories, RIP Bill.

  4. Amy Clotworthy

    Dan, thanks so much for publishing my father’s obituary. Westport was still mostly ‘horse country’ when we moved there in 1974 – he wasn’t always pleased about the subsequent developments/growth but he really enjoyed living there. Hope you’re doing well – wishing you all the best!