Will in 1938
Will in 2007
|Portrayed by|| Jonathan Scarfe (1938) |
Peter Haskell (2007)
Will Paige was a regular patron at the Palomar Ballroom in 1938. An attraction would form between him and a taxi dancer named Audrey Metz, though any chance of relationship ended when she disappeared on October 30; the night of Orson Welles' infamous War of the Worlds radio broadcast.
Will was a successful inventor, already retired by 1938, and was spared many of the the struggles others faced during the Great Depression.
An alcoholic, Will had three charges for drunk and disorderly conduct at the time and even sent a man to the hospital after beating him a drunken brawl, before finally giving up drinking. Despite staying sober, he didn't shake his reputation for being dangerous, with some people like Penny Centavo believing he's killed the man he'd brawled with.
Will's wife was institutionalized for three years, suffering from bipolar disorder, a disease not well understood, stigmatized at the time, and described as "mood swings". Doctors attempted to treat her condition with a lobotomy, which only destroyed her mind. Devastated, Will would later say he sat in the dark for three years until a chance encounter at the Pallomar Ballroom changed things.
Will noticed a taxi dancer named Audrey Metz being harassed by an unruly sailor, Will stood up for her, telling the man to back off. The sailor was ready to start a fight until one of his shipmates told him of Will's reputation, which caused the sailor to back off.
Each night after that, Will would buy up all of Audrey's dance tickets so she wouldn't have to dance. Instead they sat and talked. Will learned that Audrey had a husband, Felton, and a son, "Dobber". The depression and Felton's being out of work for three years had put great strain on their marriage. His stubborn pride led him to put on a suit and go to an empty office everyday, simply to keep up appearances. Will, in turn, told her a select few details about his wife's illness, before Felton walked in and took Audrey out of the dance hall, not seeing Will.
While Audrey eventually calmed Felton down at home, and convinced him to let her keep working there to support the family, Audrey's friend and fellow dancer Penny showed up, having been badly beaten by her fiancé Crick. Though Audrey took her to the hospital, Penny, envious of what Audrey and Will had, told a secret she'd learned. Will's wife was in fact alive, albeit hospitalized, though it's unclear how much Penny knew.
When Will saw her again, he offered her a dance ticket that said "ALWAYS" and told her he wanted to start a new life with her. Audrey, however, was angry that Will had apparently deceived her, tore up the ticket and walked off. Will could do nothing, but buy a drink, something he never did, and drink it bitterly.
A twist of fate would later occur, however, on October 30. Orson Welles made his famous radio broadcast of the story "War of the Worlds", leading many to believe a real Martian invasion was coming. Thinking the end of the world was coming, Audrey impulsively left her home and rushed to the dance hall, where Will was sitting alone. The two reconciled and finally had a dance before Audrey had to hurry home.
Will would never see Audrey again. Not having a radio in his car, he didn't even learn the "invasion" was a hoax until the following morning. Audrey's whereabouts would remain a mystery for decades afterwards.
In 2007, Will, still alive and well, was questioned by Detectives Lilly Rush and Nick Vera after Audrey's remains were found at the bottom of a well. The detectives had previously questioned Penny and learned of Will's reputation and the incident with the sailor. Will, in turn told them of his conversations with Audrey and how Felton had found her there.
After learning from Penny about his and Audrey's falling out, however, Detective Vera and Scotty Valens again questioned Will. Half the ticket Will had offered her was found on her remains and detectives suggested perhaps Will had "killer her to keep her." Will instead told them how Audrey had found him again that night and described it as the end of the world, because "it was as if nothing else existed but her."
Will's recounting of the night unwittingly gave them a clue learning it was Felton who was Audrey's real killer and even inspired Vera to make an effort to rekindle his relationship with his ex-girlfriend Toni Halstead.
Will visited the old dance hall once more, where he reminisced about the woman he'd loved there.
- Peter Haskell, who played the older Will Paige, died on April 12, 2010. It's unclear if Will should therefore be considered deceased as well.