QUESTION: As a boy, William Wellman was expelled from his high school for dropping a stink bomb on the head of his principle. What ironic job did his mother hold at the time?
A) She was a manufacturer of stink bombs
B) She was his principle
C) She was a probation officer specializing in juvenile delinquency
D) She was a construction manager who built high schools
William Wellman was, to put it mildly, a character. Born in 1896, he was a descendant of Puritans who settled Massachusetts Bay Colony, Wellman was something of a wanderer in his youth. He found work as a salesman and a lumberjack before finding work as a professional ice hockey player. He was on the rink when actor Douglass Fairbanks recommended he get into the movie business. When the United States entered World War 1, he enlisted as an ambulance driver. He didn't last long before the glamor of the air seduced him, and he became an accomplished flyer, winning the prestigious Croix de Guerre with two palms and shooting down no less than six planes. He was injured, too, and lived with a limp the rest of his life. The end of the war found Wellman in Hollywood, following Fairbanks' advice. He discovered he hated acting, but had a knack for directing.
Between 1920 and 1956, Wellman directed around eighty films, including the first ever to win an Academy Award for Best Picture, Wings, released in 1927 and the only film from the silent era to ever win the prestigious award. Other critically acclaimed films include 1931's gangster melodrama Public Enemy, the anti-lynching film The Ox-Bow Incident of 1943 and the cynical war film The Story of G.I. Joe two years later, and 1954's The High and the Mighty. His last film was Lafayette Esquadrille in 1958, completed a full eighteen years before he passed away, but we are honoring Mr. Wellman today because of his involvement in Beggars of Life, his first talkie. The film depicting the life of hobos had its own hard edges. Apparently, Wellman in no way tried to control the rough-housing on set, and actual hobos were hired as extras, and they were known to amuse themselves between scenes by starting fires under one another's chairs and sticking lit cigarettes in the pants pockets of their sleeping cohorts. Good times!
ANSWER: C) She was a probation officer specializing in juvenile delinquency