Bill (William, Billy) Budd
Bill (William, Billy) Budd
Bill Budd, labeled by several local theatre reviewers as Santa Barbara’s “Mr. Gilbert & Sullivan”, died on February 13, 2013. Among his many and varied achievements, Bill founded the Gilbert & Sullivan Company of Santa Barbara in 1982 and directed all of its shows until 1994. During that time, this local theatrical troupe of 500 singers and instrumentalists performed the entire canon of G & S musical comedies at the Lobero Theatre.
In addition to directing, Bill also exuberantly performed in most of them. The company presented two new productions each year to the delight of thousands in their audiences. For his effort Bill was designated as one of the Santa Barbara Independent’s “Local Heroes” in 1987.
Bill was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1932.He sang as a featured soprano soloist with the Saint Paul’s Boy’s Choir from the age of seven, performing in such places as Carnegie Hall and the New York Metropolitan Opera House.
He held a BBA degree from Hofstra University and did his graduate studies at the University of Oregon. During the Korean War he served as an officer in the U. S. Marine Corps.
Bill was president of Budd Publications in New York City for twenty years, specializing in periodicals in the import/export and tradeshow fields.
He was a private pilot, a raconteur and joke-teller extraordinaire, but his prime avocation was musical comedy.
He continued his musical/theatrical career in light opera with a New York City area G & S Company, where he met his wife, Betty Farrelly.
Before he raised himself to “president” of the company, he won Betty’s heart as she witnessed his unbridled enthusiasm during a performance of “The Mikado”.
Bill and Betty both moved to Santa Barbara in 1982,and within days of their arrival, they formed the Gilbert and Sullivan Company of Santa Barbara.
Bill had a great zest for life. With his infectious smile, genial spirit and unbounded optimism, Bill definitely saw “life as a stage”, and he enjoyed performing on it. He also never lost a chance to use the stage to brighten the lives of others. Many have attested to the enrichment and joy Bill brought to their lives. This includes adults who were children when Bill introduced them to Gilbert and Sullivan through ‘Peanut Gallery Productions’.
The years of the Gilbert & Sullivan Company represented a kind of “golden age” of community-based high-quality adult local theatre in Santa Barbara. Many long-lasting friendships were formed among those who performed onstage with the company, or played in the orchestra, or handled the behind-the-scenes work of staging the productions at the Lobero.
Bill Budd formed Performance Memories, a video production company, in 1977. Joined by his wife Betty, he moved the company to Santa Barbara where it continues today with over 20,000 local customers. The company now specializes in video recordings of performances of children and has recorded more than 5,000 shows in schools and other Santa Barbara venues.
Bill is survived by his wife and business partner, Betty Farrelly, his twin sister Margie Dome of Florida, his niece, Tracy, his favorite in-laws, Peggy, Roy and Fran, and his nephews, plus several more generations made possible by his sister Margie.
He is predeceased by his brother John, his daughter Bonnie, Arthur Sullivan, W.S. Gilbert, Abraham Lincoln and too many others to list.
A “Celebration of Bill’s Life” will be held on March 17 on the grounds of Bishop Diego HS, 4000 La Colina Rd., at 2pm. In lieu of flowers, or any donations, please just take a moment to remember Bill and how he made you laugh.