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David Wayne (Jan 30,1914 - Feb 9,1995)

Theatre photo of a young David Wayne


 

 

Length:  5' 9" (1,75 m)
Eyes: brown
Hair: brown
Wife:
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 theater."

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 Shakespeare.

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 actor."

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. It David Wayne in Finian's Rainbow (1947)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.

   David Wayne with his wife Jane Gordon (date unknown) David Wayne as Frank Thurlowe Pulver, the precocious ensign in "Mr. Roberts" in 1948 (second from the left)
Above left: David Wayne with his wife Jane Gordon (date unknown)
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 his career.

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 (1953).

     "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie" (1952) puts David Wayne in the same scene as Helene Stanley and Hugh Marlowe (of Ellery Queen fame!) Not once but twice! Wayne with Marilyn Monroe in  "We're Not Married" (1952).
Above left: Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie (1952) puts David Wayne in the same scene as Helene Stanley and Hugh Marlowe (of Ellery Queen fame!)
Above right: Not once but twice! Wayne with Marilyn Monroe in We're Not Married (1952).

     Who wouldn't envy David Wayne as the landlord in "How to Marry a Millionaire" (1953). David Wayne as jolly good crew fellow in "Hell and High Water" (1954).
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)

He did two co-starring stints with Marilyn Monroe We're Not Married (1952) (above top right), and as a landlord in  How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) (above left).
He again won a Tony in 1954, this time as best actor in Station advertisement for the TV series "Norby" (1955) with David WayneThe Teahouse of the August Moon, where he portrayed Sakini the clever Okinawan bent on melding cultures. He starred as bank vice president Pearson Norby in the TV series Norby (right: Station advertisement) in 1955, the same year where he played opposite Frank Sinatra in The Tender Trap (below left). Wayne plays a family man obsessed with striking gold in the low budget western The Naked Hills (1956) with Myrna Dell (below right)

  Opposite Frank Sinatra in "The Tender Trap" (1955). Myrna Dell and David Wayne in "The Naked Hills" (1956).
Above left: Opposite Frank Sinatra in The Tender Trap (1955).
Above right: Myrna Dell and David Wayne in The Naked Hills (1956).

  In "Sad Sack" (1957) with Jerry Lewis
Wayne portrayed schizophrenic Joanne Woodward's long-suffering husband in "Three Faces of Eve" (1957).
Above left: In Sad Sack (1957) with Jerry Lewis.
Above right: Wayne portrayed schizophrenic Joanne Woodward's long-suffering husband in Three Faces of Eve (1957).


In 1957 Wayne was nominated for an Emmy for an appearance in the "Heartbeat" episode of Suspicion, a suspense anthology. Wayne portrayed schizophrenic Joanne Woodward's long-suffering husband in Three Faces of Eve (1957) (Above right). Una Merkel , who co-starred with Wayne during his Fox years once said "I loved David Wayne. I think he's one of the finest actors we have. He's so good they don't know what to do with him."
In 1958 he won accolades from the critics for his performance in Say Darling with Vivian Blaine. Among his other better known pictures were The Last Angry Man, The Front Page, The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Survivalist

  David Wayne, returning home with his wife after European Vacation (August 14, 1957) "One More Mile To Go" (1957) with David Wayne was an episode of the popular "Alfred Hitchcock presents" directed by the master himself.
Above left: David Wayne, returning home with his wife after European Vacation (August 14, 1957).
Above right: "One More Mile To Go" (1957) with David Wayne was an episode of the popular
Alfred Hitchcock presents directed by the master himself.

          In the 1959 "Twilight Zone" episode N° 6 "Escape Clause," David played a hypochondriac who, in an effort to escape his dependence on pills and fear of his environment, made a pact with the Devil. In exchange for his soul, he won immortality. David Wayne as the Mad Hatter, in the "Batman" (1966-67) series
Above top left:  Wayne in the 1959 Twilight Zone episode "Escape Clause".
Above right: David Wayne as the Mad Hatter, in the Batman (1966-67) series.



Besides playing such prominent personages as Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain and even "Old Scratch" (with Edward G. Robinson in a 1961 telecast of
The Devil and Daniel Webster), he TVue - December 7. 1975 David Wayneappeared in classic individual episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Twilight Zone. In episode "Escape Clause," David played a hypochondriac who, in an effort to escape his dependence on pills and fear of his environment, made a pact with the Devil. In exchange for his soul, he won immortality (above left). Devotees of the Caped Crusader and Boy Wonder could occasionally see Wayne as the Mad Hatter, a Batman nemesis in 1966-67 (above right). As Dr. Dutton he was trying to find a cure for the Andromeda Strain in 1971 (below top left). He was the duke in a 1974 remake of Huckleberry Finn (below top right). His crusty Inspector Queen in the Ellery Queen TV-series (1975-1976) must be the definitive depiction of The Old Man although Wayne lacked the moustache so often mentioned in the books
(above right: TVue - December 7. 1975 David Wayne).

 David Wayne as Dr. Dutton in the "Andromeda Strain" in 1971. Wayne in a 1974 musical remake of "Huckleberry Finn".
Above left: David Wayne as Dr. Dutton in the Andromeda Strain in 1971.
Above right: Wayne in a 1974 musical remake of Huckleberry Finn.

 Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) and Digger Barnes (David Wayne) at a Southfork BQQ in " Dallas" (1978).
Dr. Amos Weatherby (David Wayne) in "House Calls" (1979-1982), close to retirement and with a mean streak . The best he could do was to irritate Dr. Solomon by constantly getting his name wrong while going his own way.
Above left: Miss Ellie (Barbara Bel Geddes) and Digger Barnes (David Wayne) at a Southfork BQQ in Dallas (1978).
Above right: Dr. Amos Weatherby (David Wayne) in House Calls (1979-1982), close to retirement and with a mean streak . The best he could do was to irritate Dr. Solomon by constantly getting his name wrong while going his own way.


In 1977 he moved to Los Angeles. In addition, Wayne appeared with New York's Lincoln Center Repertory, and was one of the hosts of the NBC weekend radio potpourri Monitor.  Most of the public now will remember him as Willard (Digger) Barnes on Dallas (1978) (above left). He also had a role in House Calls (1980) (above right).

Curtailing his activities in the late 1980s, David Wayne retired altogether in 1993, after the death of his wife of 51 years. His last on screen appearance was in the movie The Fence in 1994 as a Steel Mill Foreman.
His daughter said he continued to do TV movies and a few smaller films into the early 1990s but "generally just retired." Years ago, Wayne told a studio biographer he was happiest on the stage but like any other actor could not resist a good script "regardless of the commute."

He passed away in Santa Monica, California February 9, 1995 from lung cancer. He was 81 years old.

David Wayne made Stanislawsky's credo his own: "Love the art in yourself rather than yourself in the art.
He added "An actor can't go wrong if he sticks to it; It should be written over the door of every sound stage in Hollywood. I'm afraid most Hollywood actors will read it here for the first time. I hope they take the time to memorize it."

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References
(1) IMDb
(2) Wikipedia

(3) IBDB
(4) Looking at Hollywood with Hedda Hopper, Chicago Tribune (Jul 9, 1951)
(5) Louella O.Parsons in Hollywood (1950)

Additional video & audio sources
(1) M (Film Clip, 1951)
(2) A Couple of Swells (Ford Star Jubilee) (Clip TV special Judy Garland, 1955)
(3)
David Wayne for AMC (Video Clip, 1966)
(4) The Adventure of the Black Falcon (Clip Ellery Queen episode, 1976)
(5) Dallas (Season 2, episode 2 "Reunion, Part II") (TV Clip Sep 30, 1978)

 

This actor profile is a part of the Ellery Queen a website on deduction. The actor above played Richard Queen in the 1975-1976 Ellery Queen TV series.


Page first published before May 27, 2016 
Last updated September 28, 201
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