(Jan 30. 1914 -
Feb 9. 1995)
Length: 5' 9" (1,75 m)
Jane Gordon Trix, (Dec 20, 1941 -
Apr 16, 1993, her dead)
Twin daughters: Susan
Kearney and Melinda (1946)
Son: Timothy (1948)
Above right: Theatre photo of a young David Wayne.
His Broadway, TV and film portrayals ran a gamut of characters ranging from
a scientist trying to save the world to an ingenuous Asian bent on bringing
happiness to GIs in a far-off land.
As well as an actor, David, nicknamed Davey, worked in Hollywood for many
years as a special effects coordinator - including work with Wes Craven.
David Wayne was born
Wayne James McMeekan on January 30th , 1914
in Traverse City Michigan.
His home life was
rather sad as his mother Helen Matilda Mason died when he was four years old. His father
John David McMeekan supported the family as an insurance agent.
"I went into my first play at 6. It was in Bloomingdale,
Michigan, a little town, about 500 population. We had home talent plays at
the opera house and my uncle directed them. From six years on there
has never been a time in my life when I have not been working in the
He attended Western Michigan
University were he majored in business administration, then worked as a statistician in
a big paint corporation in Cleveland where he joined a
Shakespearean Repertory company. "In school I was on stage with
the dramatic group as often as I was in the lecture hall; and, after an
eight-hour day with paint, I put on plays with a little theater group. That
meant six hours work each night; two hours rehearsing the play for the
coming week, a couple of hours giving the play for the current week, then
back for a couple more hours rehearsal on the future play, after the
performance was finished."
The chance came in 1936 when the
Cleveland exposition revived the Globe theater with streamlined
David Wayne first raised his
voice during an extended apprenticeship at the Cleveland Playhouse in a
wide variety of roles. He won the role of Touchstone in As You
Like It (1935, Cleveland).
In 1938, he made his first New York stage appearance in
Escape This Night.
"Everything escaped, even the audience and I was out on the street in a
week. I did commercial recordings and some radio; it kept body and soul
together, but I was hungry oftener than not until I got the part of
Fredric March's son in 'The American Way'. That job made me a Broadway
He caught the eye and won the approval of
Broadway's critical magistrates with a remarkable performance as
Conscience in Peep Show (1944), after
making his New York debut in The American Way
(1939) The Merry Widow (1944) and
Park Avenue (1946-1947).
Rejected by the army he volunteered as an ambulance driver for
the British (Eight Army) in North Africa. Two weeks before being shipped out to
Europe he married Jane Gordon, daughter of Jean
Gordon of the Metropolitan and actress. They had been playing in
summer stock and knew each other quite a while. He was erroneously reported as being killed in
action when the Germans were victorious at the Battle of Tobruk in North
Africa. After the U.S joined the war he served in the US Army
In 1947 he landed the role that was to prove the sine qua non of his career.
was as Og
the leprechaun in the Irish fantasy Finian's Rainbow
(picture left), and
its magical musical moments and satire brought him his first Tony, the first
actor to do so ever. Next he
introduced the world to everyone's favorite military innocent, Frank Thurlowe Pulver,
the precocious ensign in Mr. Roberts in 1948.
It was as Pulver that he first appeared opposite Henry Fonda with a crew
haircut, a style that remained his signature for many years. Though Wayne's
first Tony took him more than two decades, his second came more quickly. One
place where they evidently did know what to do with Wayne was
television, where he worked steadily from 1948 onward.
While all of his major stage roles went to other actors in the film
versions, Wayne enjoyed a substantial movie career of his own. He
co-starred with John Forsythe and the play won that year's Pulitzer
Prize for drama and the Drama Critics' Circle award. After his success
in Mister Roberts, he was invited to Hollywood for parts in two
highly touted films, Portrait of Jennie (filmed in
NY) and Adam's Rib,
both in 1949.
Above left: David Wayne with his wife Jane Gordon (date
Above right: David Wayne as Frank Thurlowe Pulver, the precocious ensign in
Mr. Roberts in 1948 (second from the left)
In a 1950 interview David said his
hobbies were golf, tennis, swimming, painting his children, his wife, and
Of motion pictures he says: "I am not at all
convinced the actor has enough responsibility of creation in films. It is
too much a technician's field. That is why I think the movie actor should
return to the theater from time to time to enrich himself." His motion
picture roles proved as varied a blend as his stage work, from a
small-town barber who ages 56 years in the 1952 underrated film Wait
Till the Sun Shines, Nellie, a hillbilly in With a Song in My Heart
(1952) to theatrical impresario Sol Hurok in Tonight We Sing
Above left: Wait Till the Sun Shines,
Nellie (1952) puts David Wayne in the same scene
as Helene Stanley and Hugh Marlowe (of Ellery
Above right: Not once but twice! Wayne with Marilyn Monroe in We're Not
Above left: Who wouldn't envy David Wayne as the
landlord in How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
Above right: David Wayne as jolly good crew fellow in
Hell and High Water (1954)