William Henry Hartnell (8 January 1908 - 23 April 1975) was an English actor. During 1963-66, he was the first actor to play the Doctor in the long-running BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who. Hartnell was born in St Pancras, London, England, the only child of Lucy Hartnell, an unmarried mother. He was brought up partly by a foster mother, though he did spend many happy holidays in Devon with his mother's family of farmers, where he learned to ride. Hartnell never discovered the identity of his father (whose particulars were left blank on the birth certificate) despite efforts to trace him. Often known as Billy, he left school without prospects and dabbled in petty crime.
Contributions by Paul Benjamin Austin, Khaosworks, and DavidFarmbrough.