Gretchen Wyler

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Gretchen Wyler
Gretchen Wyler.jpg
Wyler surrounded by Humane Society supporters Kevin and Don Norte at the 20th Annual Genesis Awards at the Beverly Hilton in March 2006
Born Gretchen Patricia Wienecke
(1932-02-16)February 16, 1932
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, U.S.
Died May 27, 2007(2007-05-27) (aged 75)
Camarillo, California, U.S.
Years active 1955-2000
Spouse(s) Shepard Coleman (1956-1968) (divorced)

Gretchen Wyler (February 16, 1932 – May 27, 2007) was an American actress and founder of the Genesis Awards for animal protection.

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Wyler was born Gretchen Patricia Wienecke in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the daughter of Peggy (née Highley) and Louis Gustave Wienecke, a petroleum engineer.[1] She was raised in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and opened her own dancing school there before going to New York City to pursue a career as a professional actress and dancer.

Acting career[edit]

She appeared on Broadway in six original productions:[2]

She also appeared at the 1964 World's Fair alternating with Chita Rivera in Wonder World. The Michael Kidd/Jule Styne extravaganza played at the outdoor amphitheater. Eventually she went west to Hollywood to pursue movie stardom, which eluded her, but she appeared on many television programs, ranging from The Phil Silvers Show (aka Sergeant Bilko) to Naked City to Somerset, Diagnosis: Unknown, Charlie's Angels, Dallas, St. Elsewhere, Remington Steele, Falcon Crest, Santa Barbara, Punky Brewster, MacGyver, Who's the Boss, Designing Women, Friends, and Judging Amy; her last television appearance was on Chicken Soup for the Soul.[3]

She appeared in Rick McKay's 2004 award-winning feature documentary, Broadway: The Golden Age, by the Legends Who Were There, in which she recounted her "aggressive" nature and an almost Eve Harrington-esque ambition, when she recalled trying on the star (Yvonne Adair)'s outfits when she was merely second understudy in the pre-Broadway touring production of Silk Stockings. When Ms. Adair collapsed in the middle of a show one night, and the first understudy (Sherry O'Neil; died December 24, 1980) had surreptitiously gone to New York to audition for another play (which Wyler knew), Wyler stepped in, and played the role when the show arrived on Broadway. Wyler had already filmed her appearance in McKay's sequel, Broadway: Beyond the Golden Age (2008) before she died.

Death[edit]

Wyler died on May 27, 2007, aged 75, from complications of breast cancer.[4] She had been married, but had no children.

Animal welfare activism[edit]

In 1966, Wyler began to work for animal welfare causes after visiting a dilapidated dog shelter in Warwick, N.Y.[5] In 1972, she became the first woman to serve on the board for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.[5] In 1991, she founded The Ark Trust, presenter of the annual Genesis Awards for animal protection; this event is now a program of The Humane Society of the United States. In 2005, Wyler was inducted into the U.S. Animal Rights Hall of Fame for her dedicated career in animal advocacy.[6] In 2007, the first Gretchen Wyler Award was given to Paul McCartney.[7]

References[edit]

External links[edit]