Headington history: People

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Bill Heine (1945–2019)

Bill Heine opening 2003 Headington Festival
Bill in 2003 opening the
Headington Festival

William Randolph Heine (always known as Bill) was born in the USA at Batavia, Illinois on 9 January 1945.

He studied American Diplomatic History at Georgetown University in Washington DC, and then avoided military service by volunteering for the Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Peru.

He came to Oxford to study for a postgraduate degree in Law at Batlliol College, and stayed. In 1976 he opened the Penultimate Picture Palace in Jeune Street.

After purchasing and moving into 2 New High Street, in 1980 he also took over Headington's cinema, which was opposite his home and was then called the Moulin Rouge. His first disagreement with the city council was over the can-can legs he installed on the cinema, the argument hingeing on whether they constituted an advertisement. He was allowed to retain the legs, but this cinema closed in 1991 and was demolished the same year.
More information about the Headington cinema

In 1988 Bill started working for Radio Oxford with a lunchtime phone-in programme, and he continued working for them until April 2016.

His most famous legacy was the Headington Shark, which he installed in the roof of his home in New High Street on 9 August 1986 and fought for six years to retain:
Full details of the History of the Shark here.

He latterly lived in Waterstock with his his partner, the potter Jane Hanson. Their son Magnus Hanson-Heine, a chemist at Nottingham University, bought the shark house from his father in August 2016.

Bill died of acute myeloid leukaemia at the age of 74 on 2 April 2019.

Further reading:

  • Bill Heine, Heinstein of the Airwaves: Discovering a Parallel World within Oxford (Chris Andrews Publications Ltd, 2008)
    (about Bill's career with Radio Oxford)
  • Bill Heine,The Hunting of the Shark (OxfordFolio, 2011)
    (the story behind the shark)
  • Doris Heffron, A Shark in the House (Toronto: Key Porter Books, 1996) 
    (novel, with Bill Heine loosely disguised as Jonas, and Not The Moulin Rouge as Not the Follies)

© Stephanie Jenkins

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