William Tom Wheatley, an accomplished theater actor and an emeritus professor at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, died at his home in San Diego Oct. 19. He was 89.
Wheatley began teaching acting and directing in the theater department at UCLA in 1973 and retired in 1992.
Born Jan. 3, 1932, in New York, Wheatley received his master’s degree in theater from Columbia University in 1956. Following graduation, he became a member of the Actors Studio and began his professional career under the name Tom Wheatley, performing in several off-Broadway productions, including “The Cat and the Canary” and “Ping Pong.”
On Broadway, he appeared in “The Shadow of a Gunman” and later played the role of Andrew Lynch in the Arthur Penn–directed “All the Way Home,” alongside Colleen Dewhurst, Lillian Gish and Arthur Hill. The New York Times praised Wheatley’s performance in the production, which won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and the New York Drama Critics’ Circle’s award for best American play.
Wheatley then went on to earn his Ph.D. from New York University, in 1965. He was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to Japan in 1963 and another, in 1966, to Colombia.
Wheatley’s other credits include starring as the “silent Lear” in Robert Wilson’s production of “King Lear” and working opposite Burgess Meredith in “The Threepenny Opera.” He also performed at the New York Shakespeare Festival and with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, and directed and performed at the London Fringe theater festival.
He is survived by his wife, Julia Wheatley, and two sons.