William T. Brooks III (aka: "Chili Bill")
William T. Brooks III (more commonly known as "Chili Bill") was indeed a jack of many trades. He was an actor, an Air Force pilot (who built his own jet engines), an inventor, an entrepreneur, an American judo black belt and a die-hard cowboy.
Growing up, Chili Bill spent a great deal of time with his Comanche Indian-grandmother who taught him how to cook for their Mexican cowboy ranch hands. It was at this young age that he began developing recipes with a Mexican and American flair.
While his life took him in many different directions, Chili Bill always found his way back to the kitchen - competing (successfully!) in the chili cook-off circuit, authoring cook books and ultimately hosting 150 episodes of the locally popular tv show, Chili Bill's Kitchen, during the 1980's.
A Chili Bill biography wouldn't be complete without mentioning his love for the ultimate cowboy, the Duke himself, John Wayne. As a young man, Chili Bill was an extra in John Wayne movies, never guessing that years later he'd become Wayne's personal pilot and friend. Chili Bill met John Wayne (and many other celebrities) while piloting for the William Randolph Hearst family in the 1960's.
He loved to cook for his famous friends and even sent five gallons of chili to John Wayne (per Wayne's request!) on the set of Brannigan in London.
Chili Bill passed away in early 2013 in his home on John Wayne's 26 Bar Ranch. He was proud to see his BBQ sauce go to market and would be so pleased to know that his legacy continues to live on.