It was on this day, January 30, 1914, American stage and screen actor David Wayne was born in Traverse City, Michigan. Born Wayne James McMeekan, he grew up in Bloomingdale, Michigan. He attended Western Michigan University then worked as a statistician in Cleveland where he joined a Shakespeare repertory company.
Two years later he had a minor role in “The American Way” in New York. He was rejected by the army in World War II but volunteered as an ambulance driver in North Africa. Returning to Broadway, 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).
In 1948 Wayne became one of those fortunate 50 applicants (out of approximately 700) granted membership in New York’s newly formed Actors Studio For The Teahouse of the August Moon, he was awarded a second Tony for Best Actor in a Play 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.
Among Wayne’s many television roles, he was a bank official in his own comedy series, Norby (1955), James Merrick, a heart patient in the episode Suspicion: Heartbeat (1957), the part of Inspector Queen in the Manfred Lee’s Ellery Queen (1975) series and of “Digger” Barnes in Dallas (1978).
In his last feature film, he played an inquisitive but slightly senile train conductor in the irreverent comedy, ” Finders Keepers”(1985).
David Wayne in a scene from Adam’s Rib (1949)
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