David Wayne

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This article is about the actor. For the singer, see David Wayne (singer).
David Wayne
David Wayne in Adams Rib trailer.jpg
from the trailer for Adam's Rib (1949)
Born Wayne James McMeekan
(1914-01-30)January 30, 1914
Traverse City, Michigan, U.S.
Died February 9, 1995(1995-02-09) (aged 81)
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Lung Cancer
Resting place
Residence Santa Monica, California
Nationality American
Occupation Actor
Years active 1938–1994
Home town Bloomingdale, Michigan
Spouse(s) Jane Gordon (1941-1993; her death)
Children Kearney Wayne,
Melinda Wayne,
Timothy Wayne
Awards Tony Award (1947), (1954)

David Wayne (January 30, 1914 – February 9, 1995) was an American stage and screen actor with a career spanning nearly 50 years.

Early life and career[edit]

Wayne was born Wayne James McMeekan in Traverse City, Michigan, the son of Helen Matilda (née Mason) and John David McMeekan. He grew up in Bloomingdale, Michigan. Wayne's first major Broadway role was Og the leprechaun in Finian's Rainbow, for which he won the Theatre World Award and the first ever Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. While appearing in the play, he and co-star Albert Sharpe were recruited by producer David O. Selznick to play Irish characters in the film Portrait of Jennie (1948).

It was in 1948 as well that Wayne became one of those fortunate 50 applicants (out of approximately 700) granted membership in New York's newly formed Actors Studio.[1] He was awarded a second Tony for Best Actor in a Play for The Teahouse of the August Moon and was nominated as Best Actor in a Musical for The Happy Time. He originated the role of Ensign Pulver in the classic stage comedy Mister Roberts and also appeared in Say, Darling, After the Fall, and Incident at Vichy.

Later career[edit]

In films, Wayne most often was cast as a supporting player, such as the charming cad opposite Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn in Adam's Rib (1949). He portrayed the child killer, originally played by Peter Lorre, in the remake of M (1951), a chance to see him in a rare leading role, even rarer as an evil character. He costarred in The Tender Trap (1955) with Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, and Celeste Holm.

Wayne also appeared in four films with Marilyn Monroe (more than any other actor): As Young as You Feel (1951), We're Not Married (1952), O. Henry's Full House (1952) (although he was not in the same scene as Monroe), and How to Marry a Millionaire (1953).

Wayne appeared in the late 1950s on ABC's The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom and the Twilight Zone episode "Escape Clause". He starred as Darius Woodley in two 1961 episodes of NBC's The Outlaws television series with Barton MacLane. Wayne was also noted for his portrayal of Dr. Charles Dutton in the 1971 film version of Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain. He also played the Mad Hatter, one of the recurring villains in the 1960s television series Batman. In 1964, he guest-starred in the series finale, "Pay Now, Die Later", of CBS's drama, Mr. Broadway, starring Craig Stevens as public relations specialist Mike Bell. In the storyline, Wayne's character, the wealthy John Zeck, hires Bell to prepare Zeck's obituary before his death.

Wayne and Jean Peters in the As Young as You Feel trailer, 1951

In the 1960s, Wayne was a radio host on NBC's magazine program Monitor. Wayne appeared as Uncle Timothy Jamison in the NBC sitcom, The Brian Keith Show. He co-starred with Jim Hutton in the 1970s television series Ellery Queen (as Queen's widowed father). In 1978, Wayne played Digger Barnes in 4 episodes of the CBS soap opera Dallas. Wayne left that show to star in the television series House Calls with Lynn Redgrave and later Sharon Gless in the role of Dr. Weatherby. Wayne's friend, Keenan Wynn, replaced him as Digger Barnes. Wayne played "Big Daddy"—Blanche's father on The Golden Girls — after the death in 1986 of Murray Hamilton, the first actor to play that part.

In 1975, Wayne starred on Gunsmoke in the episode "I have Promises to Keep" as a controversial reverend who brought a church to Indian territory with ambitions of a school. The episode addresses many emotions of the post Civil War period where the horrors of the Indian wars were fresh. Met with a vengeful townspeople the reverend is confronted by an unsupportive town. While coming back from delivering a prisoner in a nearby town, US Deputy Marshal Festus Hagen (played by Ken Curtis) gets involved and defends the reverend's mission. Wayne is in a lead role in this episode, considered one of his best performances.

Later life and death[edit]

Wayne was married to Jane Gordon in 1941 and had two daughters, Kearney Wayne and Melinda Wayne, and a son, Timothy. Timothy disappeared and was presumed drowned during a rafting trip in August, 1970. His wife died in 1993. Just 2 years after her death, on February 9, 1995, Wayne died in his Santa Monica, California home from complications of lung cancer at the age of 81. He was survived by his two daughters. His remains were cremated and given to his family.


Wayne won two Tony Awards, one in 1947 for Finian's Rainbow and one in 1954 for The Teahouse of the August Moon.



Short Subjects:

  • Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Awards (1951)
  • Screen Snapshots: Hollywood Night Life (1952)
  • Anatomy of an Accident (1961)
  • John F. Kennedy: 1917-1963 (1979) (narrator)

Television Work[edit]

Stage Appearances[edit]

References and Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Dick Kleiner: "The Actors Studio: Making Stars Out of the Unknown," The Sarasota Journal (Friday, December 21, 1956), p. 26. "That first year, they interviewed around 700 actors and picked 50. In that first group were people like Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Tom Ewell, John Forsythe, Julie Harris, Kim Hunter, Karl Malden, E.G. Marshall, Margaret Phillips, Maureen Stapleton, Kim Stanley, Jo Van Fleet, Eli Wallach, Ray Walston and David Wayne."

External links[edit]