David Schramm (actor)
August 14, 1946 |
Louisville, Kentucky, U.S.
David Schramm (born August 14, 1946) is an American actor. He is best known for playing the critically acclaimed role of Roy Biggins, the portly, curmudgeonly rival airline owner in the TV series Wings.
Early life and education
Schramm revealed in a 2008 interview that at the age of 17, "(my parents) always came to see me in school, where I won trophies for speaking, and then in those big outdoor dramas we have in Kentucky, and then as an apprentice actor at the playhouse that eventually became the Actors Theater of Louisville." Schramm also earned $25 a week for cleaning toilets and for being in a play.
"I had been acting non-stop since I was a teenager," Schramm said in a 2012 interview. "But really I got started in acting because others helped me push into it. When I was a kid, it was other actors getting me to do it. Then I had a series of teachers who told me I was going to do it. John Houseman got me under his wing, and I went along with it happily."
Schramm took acting classes at Western Kentucky University, where he got a full scholarship to the Juilliard School from Dr. Mildred Howard. Schramm attended Juilliard from 1968 to 1972 and took classes that were taught by Michael Kahn. Schramm graduated from Juilliard afterwards. He is also a founding member of The Acting Company.
Early theatre work
Houseman offered Schramm to play King Lear in an Off-Broadway production of William Shakespeare's play of the same name. In 1979, Schramm appeared on Broadway opposite Judith Ivey in Alan Ayckbourn's Bedroom Farce. He played the role of Malcolm.
Early television work
Schramm gained national recognition for portraying the blustery, cantankerous airline owner Roy Biggins, in the sitcom Wings, which aired from 1990 to 1997. He appeared in all 172 episodes throughout the show's entire run.
When asked what he remembered most from Wings: "I knew when we started it was going to be a success. Not just because the writers had been involved with Cheers, Taxi and Mary Tyler Moore. But when we sat around the table reading the first script, and I saw this buffoon they created for me, this pompous guy who said garish things to women, and all the other rich characters, I turned to Rebecca (Schull, who played Fay) and said, 'I think we've landed in a tub of butter.' And we did. If only I put the money I made under my mattress instead of in the stock market."
Later theatre work
In June 2008, Schramm was part of the cast of the Berkshire Theatre Festival's production of George Bernard Shaw's Candida, in which he played Candida's father, Mr. Burgess. On August of that same year he played Pozzo in Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot at the same festival.
From November 18 to December 14, 2008, Schramm portrayed the role of Richard Harkin in Conor McPherson's The Seafarer at George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, New Jersey. The production was directed Anders Cato, whom Schramm previously collaborated with in Waiting for Godot and Candida.
In June–July 2012, Schramm portrayed Falstaff in William Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. "This is my first time doing Merry Wives. I'm having a great time. The director (Stephen Rayne) is absolutely stellar. He's intelligent and experienced and really knows the era. We've set the play at the end of the first World War, sort of in the Downton Abbey era. It works very well as a time period for the play. And it looks great. We're meticulously putting it together. This play really demands a lot from everybody. There's so much to try and do. But we're all pulling together," said Schramm in a 2012 interview. Schramm also revealed that it was his first time at the Shakespeare Theatre.
In June 2015, it was reported that Schramm was suffering from vocal problems and under doctor's orders, he had to withdraw from performing in the Barrington Stage Company's production of Richard Strand's Butler. Director Joseph Discher cast understudy Wally Dunn as Schramm's replacement for the title role.
Schramm stated in a 2008 interview, "I'm not a drinker, though I come from an area where drinking is like breathing. My father was a bookie, so consequently we went to the track a lot, where there was plenty of booze. My entire family drank; on weekends, there were always plenty of cases of beer in the house. Don't ask me why, but I just didn't get that gene."
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- Paolino, Charles (2 October 2014). "'Outside Mullingar' at the George Street Playhouse". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- Bergman, J. Peter (28 May 2015). "ON STAGE: 'Butler' at Barrington Stage is a marvel". Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- Murray, Larry (3 June 2015). "Wally Dunn fills in for ailing David Schramm in "Butler" at Barrington Stage". Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- "Schramm leaves 'Butler' at BSC for health reasons". The Berkshire Eagle. 3 June 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.