Watson B. Duncan III

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Watson B. Duncan III
Born (1915-02-16)February 16, 1915
Charleston, South Carolina
Died February 21, 1991(1991-02-21) (aged 76)
Nationality American
Occupation Professor
Known for Mentor of Burt Reynolds
Spouse(s) Honey Harper

Watson B. Duncan III (February 16, 1915 – February 21, 1991) was an American college professor best known for being the mentor of actor Burt Reynolds.

Duncan was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He received B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of South Carolina, where he majored in English. He also did graduate work at the Shakespeare Institute & Royal Theatre at the University of Birmingham in England. In 1953, he married Honey Harper.[1] Duncan began teaching Speech and English at Palm Beach Junior College in the early days of the college's history, eventually rising to the head of the English department.

Reynolds attended Palm Beach Junior College while recuperating at home in Riviera Beach from a football injury he suffered playing for Florida State University. Duncan saw a spark of talent in Reynolds, and asked him to read for a play, Sutton Vane's Outward Bound, which the college was presenting. Duncan cast Reynolds in the lead role. This eventually led to a scholarship for Reynolds at the Hyde Park Playhouse in New York City. Reynolds credits Duncan as the person who has had the most influence in his life.

Years later, Reynolds cast his former teacher in a cameo role as the press secretary to the governor in the movie Gator, which Reynolds starred in and directed.[citation needed]

Duncan went on to head the English/Communications Department at Palm Beach Junior College for more than thirty years, specializing in Milton and Shakespeare.[1] He also helped develop the talents of actor Monte Markham and Terry Garrity, author of The Sensuous Woman, while they were students at Palm Beach Junior College.

Professor Duncan was well known as a gifted Shakespearean actor, and performed frequently in the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford, Ontario. His teaching style reflected that avocation, was flamboyant, dramatic, and rendered his material quite unforgettable. Generations of students remember his shout of "ME MISERABLE!," a trademark of his Paradise Lost lectures, and recall his classes as some of the most memorable experiences of their college years. He was awarded the Distinguished Floridian of the Year (1980) and the National Faculty Award (1985).[1]

The people of Palm Beach County have honored Duncan by naming two public buildings for him. The spacious, performing arts theatre on the main campus of Palm Beach State College in Lake Worth, the Watson B. Duncan III Theatre, serves as a performing arts instructional facility and hosts a variety of cultural and entertainment events for the public. A public middle school in Palm Beach Gardens also bears his name.[1]



  1. ^ a b c d "Watson B. Duncan III". Watson B. Duncan Middle School. Retrieved 2010-02-15.