David Wayne

Last updated
David Wayne
Wayne in 1955
Wayne James McMeekan

(1914-01-30)January 30, 1914
DiedFebruary 9, 1995(1995-02-09) (aged 81)
Alma mater Western Michigan University
OccupationActor, singer
Years active1936–1994
Spouse(s)Jane Gordon (1941–1993; her death)
Awards Theatre World Award (1947)
Tony Award (1947, 1954)

David Wayne (born Wayne James McMeekan, January 30, 1914 [1] February 9, 1995) was an American stage and screen actor with a career spanning over 50 years.


Early life and career

Wayne was born in Traverse City, Michigan, the son of Helen Matilda (née Mason) and John David McMeekan. His mother died when he was four. [1] He grew up in Bloomingdale, Michigan.

Wayne attended Western Michigan University for two years and then went to work as a statistician in Cleveland. He began acting with Cleveland's Shakesperean repertory theatre in 1936. [2]

When World War II began, Wayne volunteered as an ambulance driver with the British Army in North Africa. When the United States entered the war he joined the United States Army. [2]

Wayne's first major Broadway role was Og the leprechaun in Finian's Rainbow , for which he won the Theatre World Award [3] and the first ever Tony for Actor, Supporting or Featured (Musical). [4] 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).

In 1948, Wayne was one of 50 applicants (out of approximately 700) granted membership in New York's newly formed Actors Studio. [5] He was awarded a second Tony for Best Actor (Dramatic) for The Teahouse of the August Moon and was nominated as Best Actor (Musical) for The Happy Time . [4] 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 .

Film and television career

In films, Wayne most often was cast as a supporting player, such as the charming cad and singer/songwriter/neighbor 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 a villain. 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 shared no scenes with Monroe), and How to Marry a Millionaire (1953) where he did have scenes with Monroe. He costarred in The Tender Trap (1955) with Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, and Celeste Holm.

In 1955, Wayne starred in the NBC comedy Norby . [6] :771 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 starring Barton MacLane. Also in 1961, Wayne appeared in the Bell Telephone Company-produced driver safety film Anatomy of an Accident, about a family outing tragically cut short by a car accident.

He 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. Also in the 1960s, Wayne was a radio host on NBC's magazine program Monitor .[ citation needed ]

Wayne and Jean Peters in trailer for As Young as You Feel (1951) As Young as You Feel trailer 1.jpg
Wayne and Jean Peters in trailer for As Young as You Feel (1951)

Wayne was known for his role as Dr. Charles Dutton in Michael Crichton's The Andromeda Strain (1971). He also appeared as Uncle Timothy Jamison in the NBC sitcom The Brian Keith Show and played Charles Dutton in The Good Life , also on NBC. [6] :404–405 Wayne made a guest appearance in a leading role for a 1975 episode of Gunsmoke titled "I Have Promises to Keep". He co-starred with Jim Hutton in the 1976 television series Ellery Queen (as Inspector Richard Queen). [6] :305

In 1973 on Mannix season 6 episode 22 Wayne played a hobo being hunted by the men mistaking him for a different hobo who witnesses a criminal still alive after staging his own death.

In 1978, Wayne played James Lawrence in the ABC drama Family [6] :324, and he played Digger Barnes in four episodes of the CBS soap opera Dallas . [6] (Wayne's friend Keenan Wynn replaced Wayne in the role of Digger Barnes.) Wayne co-starred in the role of Dr. Amos Weatherby in the 1979–82 television series House Calls with Lynn Redgrave and later Sharon Gless. [6] :480

Personal life

Wayne was married to Jane Gordon in 1941 and had two daughters, Susan Wayne Kearney and Melinda Wayne, and a son, Timothy. Timothy disappeared and was presumed drowned during a rafting trip in August 1970. [7] [8] Wayne's wife, daughter of opera vocalist Jeanne Gordon, died in 1993. Susan died in 2019; her remains were cremated and given to her family.

Wayne was a lifelong Democrat who supported Adlai Stevenson's campaign during the 1952 presidential election. [9]


On February 9, 1995, Wayne died in his Santa Monica, California, home from complications of lung cancer at the age of 81. [1] His remains were cremated and distributed 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 . [1]



Short Subjects:

Television work

Stage appearances

Radio appearances

1952Stars in the Air Good Sam [11]
1953 Lux Radio Theatre Wait 'Till the Sun Shines, Nellie [12]


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    1. 1 2 3 4 Lueck, Thomas J. (February 13, 1995). "David Wayne, Sprightly and Versatile Actor, Is Dead at 81". The New York Times . Archived from the original on 30 June 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2015. When World War II began he was rejected by the Army, but volunteered to serve as an ambulance driver in North Africa with the American Field Service.
    2. 1 2 Folkart, Burt A. (February 13, 1995). "David Wayne, 81; Versatile Actor Won 2 Tony Awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2 December 2019. In the early days of the war he drove an ambulance in Africa for the British. After the United States joined the war he served with the U.S. Army.
    3. "Theatre World Award Recipients". Theatre World Awards. Archived from the original on 25 July 2017. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
    4. 1 2 "Search Results: David Wayne". Tony Awards. Archived from the original on 31 August 2016. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
    5. Kleiner, Dick. "The Actors Studio: Making Stars Out of the Unknown," The Sarasota Journal. 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."
    6. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Terrace, Vincent (January 10, 2014). Encyclopedia of Television Shows, 1925 through 2010 (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 229. ISBN   978-0-7864-8641-0 . Retrieved December 2, 2019.
    7. "David Wayne's Son Missing With a Friend in Canada". The New York Times. August 24, 1970.
    8. "Actor's Son Believed Dead". The New York Times. August 29, 1970. Retrieved December 2, 2019.
    9. Motion Picture and Television Magazine, November 1952, page 33, Ideal Publishers
    10. "Barney Miller (TV series) "Bureaucrat" (1975)". IMDb. Retrieved 12 July 2019.
    11. Kirby, Walter (March 9, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved May 23, 2015 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
    12. Kirby, Walter (May 3, 1953). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 52. Retrieved June 26, 2015 via Newspapers.com. Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg