Bill Lansford, 90, a Latino Marine and Army veteran who sought to bring honor to the contributions of other Latinos who served in the nation’s wars, died May 22 at his Playa del Rey home. The cause was complications of prostate cancer, his wife Ruth said.
William Douglas Lansford was born July 13, 1922, in East Los Angeles, the son of Rosalina Melendez, an actress, and Frank Alva Stone, a Los Angeles police officer. His parents were divorced before he was born. (The name Lansford came from a misspelling on his birth certificate of Lunsford, another name used by his father, Ruth Lansford said.)
He dropped out of high school at 16 and joined the Marine Corps at 18. He was stationed in Iceland, then in the Pacific theater during World War II. Several years later, he joined the Army and served during the Korean War.
He became a successful writer for television series such as “Starsky & Hutch,” “Fantasy Island” and “Ironside,” and also wrote several books, including a biography of Pancho Villa that was adapted into the 1968 film “Villa Rides,” starring Yul Brynner.