William Challee

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William Challee
Born William John Challe
(1904-04-06)April 6, 1904
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Died March 11, 1989(1989-03-11) (aged 84)
Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation Actor
Years active 1926 - 1979
Spouse(s) Ruth Nelson
Ella Franklin Crawford
Joan Wheeler Ankrum (1984–1989; his death)

William John Challee (April 6, 1904 – March 11, 1989) was an American actor.


Challee directed Eugene O'Neill's S.S. Glencairn cycle for the Federal Theatre Project in 1937.

William Challee appeared on Broadway by 1926 and by 1931 in early Group Theatre productions. He married actress Ruth Nelson in 1931; they later divorced. The two appeared in the 1947 film The Sea of Grass, in supporting roles, after they were divorced.

In 1937 Challee staged a suite of one-act plays at the Lafayette Theatre in Harlem, under the heading Plays of the Sea. The suite consisted of the Eugene O'Neill plays Bound East for Cardiff, In the Zone, The Long Voyage Home and Moon of the Caribbees. They were produced by the Federal Theatre Project of the WPA, running for 68 performances from October 29, 1937.[1]

Chalee was living in Chicago by 1940. By the middle 1940s, Chalee was working in films in California, mainly in supporting and uncredited roles. Challee married dancer Ella Franklin Crawford on April 19, 1944 in Santa Monica.

Chalee appeared in episodes of numerous television series, including a 1953 episode ("Stage for Mademoiselle") of The Lone Ranger and a 1957 episode ("The Case of the Runaway Corpse") of Perry Mason.

Challee played the incapacitated family patriarch in the 1970 film Five Easy Pieces, whose illness brings "son" Jack Nicholson home to the family estate.

In 1984 he married his long-time partner Joan Wheeler Ankrum. Together, in 1960, they opened the Ankrum Gallery on La Cienega Boulevard in Los Angeles.[2][3]

Challee was buried in Alta Mesa Memorial Park in Palo Alto.

Broadway roles[edit]

Selected filmography[edit]



External links[edit]