- Mosconi, William Joseph
▪ 1994("WILLIE"), U.S. billiards player (b. June 21, 1913, Philadelphia, Pa.—d. Sept. 16, 1993, Haddon Heights, N.J.), reigned as world pocket billiards champion 15 times and was renowned both for his accurate, rapid-fire shots and for dismantling the image associated with the sport as one played in smoky pool parlours populated with hustlers and drunks. Though his father owned a pool hall, Mosconi was not allowed to use the cues or balls, so he practiced shooting round potatoes into the pockets with a broomstick. Mosconi's stylish dress (he always wore a jacket while playing) and finesse around the billiard table were in sharp contrast to his nemesis, hustler Rudolph ("Minnesota Fats") Wanderone, whom Mosconi easily defeated in a celebrated 1978 television match. Mosconi, who once had an incredible run (series of successful shots) of 526 balls in a 1954 exhibition game, also set numerous tournament records, including the fastest game on record with 125 points in 30 minutes. Though a stroke sidelined the champion in 1957, he soon returned to tournament play and continued to serve as a consultant to the Brunswick Corp., a sports-equipment manufacturer. He also lent his technical expertise, including the shooting of fancy shots, to the production of such films as The Hustler (1961) and its sequel, The Color of Money (1986). Mosconi was the author of Willie Mosconi on Pocket Billiards (1959), Winning Pocket Billiards (1965), and an autobiography, Willie's Game (1993).
* * *