William Mills "Bill" Irwin (born April 11, 1950) is an American actor and clown noted for his contribution to the renaissance of American circus during the 1970s. He is known for his vaudeville-style stage acts, but has made a number of appearances on film and television and won a Tony Award for a dramatic role on Broadway.
In 1996, Irwin performed with The Cadets Drum and Bugle Corps at the 1996 Summer Olympics, in a "band on the run" sequence where he played Dr. Hubert Peterson of the fictitious Federation of United Marching Associations of America.
Although Irwin is best known for his theatrical clown work, he has also been featured in a number of dramatic plays. Irwin appeared in 1988 on stage with Steve Martin and Robin Williams for a production of Waiting for Godot in the role of Lucky. Lucky's only lines consist of a famous 500-word-long monologue, an ironic element for Irwin since much of his clown-based stage work was silent. He appeared in 2002 with Sally Field in the replacement cast of The Goat or Who is Sylvia?. In 2005, he starred alongside Kathleen Turner as George in a revival of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?. He directed the 1998 Roundabout Theatre Company production of A Flea in Her Ear.
Irwin's first featured film role was in 1980, appearing as Ham Gravy in Robert Altman's Popeye starring Robin Williams. He has appeared in over 20 films, mainly in supporting roles. Irwin's principal film roles included My Blue Heaven, a 1990 comedy with Steve Martin and Rick Moranis, and Eight Men Out, which tells the true story of the "Black Sox" gambling scandal of 1919. Irwin tap-danced in a leading role in 1991's Stepping Out with Liza Minnelli and appeared as a mime in the Paul Mazursky film Scenes from a Mall alongside Woody Allen and Bette Midler. He appeared in film adaptations of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, The Laramie Project and A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 2006, Irwin played the solitary Mr. Leeds in M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water and had a small role in 2007's Across the Universe.
His most notable television roles have been Enrico Ballati, "The Flying Man", on the television series Northern Exposure, and Mr. Noodle in the Elmo's World segment of the PBS children's show Sesame Street. He has also appeared on The Cosby Show, Saturday Night Live, 3rd Rock From The Sun, and Law & Order. Irwin was featured in the 1988 music video of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin (along with McFerrin and Robin Williams).
For Largely New York he won a New York Drama Critics Circle Special Citation in 1988, and an Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama Desk Award in 1989. This show also received five nominations for Tony Awards.
In 1992 he won an OBIE Award for his performance in Texts for Nothing.
Together with David Shiner he won a special Tony Award for Live Theatrical Presentation in 1999 for their show Fool Moon. In 1993, this show already had won a Drama Desk Award for "Unique Theatrical Experience" and an Outer Critics Circle "Special Achievement" Award.