He was portrayed by legendary actor Robert Englund, famous for his role as Freddy Krueger.
In the 1972 Short Story
In the original short story, Bill Gartley actually plays a minimal role in the narrative. Bill Gartley is the owner of the laundry factory, but is never seen by other characters. He is mentioned a few times in passing, and his niece, Sherry Ouelette, does work under him.
In the 1995 Film
Bill Gartley has a substantially greater role in the film version, both as a major character and as an assistant of the title demon, having sacrificed his own daughter to feed the machine. Due to contact with the machine, he is unable to walk properly, and wears leg braces. He is also blind in one eye, and wears glasses with a single shaded lens to cover it up. He shows little concern for his employees and their well-being, as portrayed in one scene where, after a woman is killed by the machine during work hours, he is more annoyed than saddened.
Like in the original story, a death occurs at the laundry factory which John Hutton begins to investigate. It is deemed an accidental death, but it is later revealed that Gartley is able to get away with much because of his financial influence with local law enforcement and town officials. He develops a sexual relationship with employee Lin Sue, who soon becomes his accomplice in the murders. Hutton discovers that Gartley and those under his influence have been sacrificing their own daughters to the demon in exchange for wealth and power.
Before the film's climax, Gartley is about to kill Sherry, but is stopped by Hutton. Gartley is then killed by the machine when he is dropped on the folding contraption and has his lower body curled backwards.