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William Redfield (1927 - 1976)

A photo of William Redfield
William Henry Redfield
1927 - 1976
Born
January 26, 1927
New York, New York, United States
Death
August 17, 1976
New York, New York, United States
Other Names
William Redfield
Summary
William Henry Redfield was born on January 26, 1927 in New York, New York United States, and died at age 49 years old on August 17, 1976 in New York. William Redfield was buried at Long Island National Cemetery Section 2C Site 1255 2040 Wellwood Avenue, in Farmingdale.
Updated: December 23, 2020
Biography ID: 13206688

William Redfield's Biography

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About William

Introduction

William Redfield
Born January 26, 1927 in New York City, New York, USA
Died August 17, 1976 in New York City, New York, USA (leukemia and respiratory ailment)
Birth Name William Henry Redfield
Height 5' 9¾" (1.77 m)
Manhattan-born thespian William Redfield was influenced early on into an acting career as the son of an orchestra conductor and a former Ziegfeld Follies girl. Born on January 26, 1927, young "Billy Redfield" made his Broadway debut in "Swing Your Lady" in 1936 at the age of 9. Within a few years, the young boy was also heard on radio and appeared in his first movie, the crime drama Back Door to Heaven (1939). As a juvenile, he continued on Broadway with such productions as "Our Town" (1938) and "Junior Miss" (1941). In subsequent years, Redfield would become one of the original founders of the famed Actor's Studio.
Gainfully employed on stage and TV throughout the 50s, he starred in a short-lived series as Jimmy Hughes, Rookie Cop (1953) (which appeared on the early Dumont Network) in 1953 and followed it up the next year with the one-season show The Marriage (1954), which has the distinction of being the first live network series to be regularly broadcast in color. An exceptionally talented writer and speaker, he co-created the Mister Peepers (1952) sitcom in the 50s, wrote the theater play "A View with Alarm" and later published his memoir, "Letters From an Actor", which recalled his experiences playing Guildenstern in the 1964 theater production of "Hamlet" starring Richard Burton and directed by John Gielgud. Other Broadway fare included "Misalliance" (1953), "Midgie Purvis" (1961) which starred Tallulah Bankhead, and "A Man for All Seasons" (1961) with Paul Scofield. In 1968, he replaced George Grizzard in the popular "You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running".
Redfield also stretched his visibility with audiences as a highly candid, warmly-received raconteur on the talk show circuit. He certainly didn't mince words as he described the ups and downs of the acting profession. It wasn't until the late 60s that Redfield started making a dent in film with roles in such popular screen fare as Morituri (1965), Fantastic Voyage (1966), A New Leaf (1971), Such Good Friends (1971), The Hot Rock (1972), and For Pete's Sake (1974), usually playing intense, unsympathetic parts.
Redfield finally hit the big time in the third-billed role of "Harding", the tense, logical, but high-strung mental patient opposite Jack Nicholson's "Randall McMurphy" in the Oscar-winning One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). What should have been the start of an enviable film support career and making a name for himself turned out to be nearly his swan song. Redfield died of leukemia the following year at the age of 49. His son, Adam Redfield, who was born in 1960, also became an actor on stage and TV.
- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh
Spouse (2)
Lynda Helen Bright (26 February 1971 - 17 August 1976) ( his death)
Betsy Meade ( divorced) ( 2 children)
Trivia (7)
Father of actor Adam Redfield.
Friend of Marlon Brando.
During the filming of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), fellow actor and real-life psychiatrist Dean R. Brooks diagnosed Redfield with leukemia (this was long before the days of bone marrow transplants) and gave him 18 months to live. Redfield died 18 months later, pretty much to the day.
Played Guildenstern in the 1964 Richard Burton Hamlet (1964) directed by John Gielgud, which premiered in Toronto, was previewed in Boston and opened on Broadway on April 9, 1964 and closed on August 8, 1964 after a total of 137 performances, thus breaking the record set by John Barrymore, who himself had broken Edwin Booth's record. Burton was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play 1964 while Hume Cronyn won a Tony as Best Featured Actor in a Play as Polonius.
Redfield wrote a memoir of the 1964 stage production of Hamlet (1964) directed by John Gielgud and starring Richard Burton that was captured on film. In "Letters from an Actor" (1967, Viking Press), Redfield -- who played Guildenstern -- said that his friend Marlon Brando had been considered the Great White Hope by his generation of American actors. That is, they believed that Brando's more naturalistic style, combined with his greatness as an actor, would prove a challenge to the more stylized and technical English acting paradigm epitomized by Laurence Olivier, and that Brando would supplant Olivier as the world's greatest actor. Redfield would tell Burton stories of Brando, whom the Welsh actor had not yet met. Refield sadly confessed that Brando, by not taking on roles such as Hamlet, and "betraying" his craft by abandoning the stage, thus allowing his instrument to be dulled by film work), had failed not only as an actor, but had failed to help American actors create an acting tradition that would rival the English in terms of expertise.
He starred in 83 episodes of the "CBS Radio Mystery Theater," which ran on CBS Radio from January of 1974 to December of 1982.
Father: Henry C. Redfield; Mother: Mareta A. George (former Follies girl).
Personal Quotes (3)
Let's face it. Movies are the swellest way to make money that ever happened in the history of the world.
[on Marlon Brando]: Brando, as a young actor, seemed bounded by no borders at all.
Acting is the most mortal of the arts. Like perishable foods, it must be taken fresh or not at all.
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William Redfield
Most commonly known as
William Henry Redfield
Full legal name
William Redfield
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January 26, 1927
Birthday
New York, New York United States
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Actor and Writer.

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Military Service

Branch of service: Us Army Rank attained: T5 Wars/Conflicts: World War II He served as an infantryman in World War II.
August 17, 1976
Death date
Leukemia.
Cause of death
New York, New York United States
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Long Island National Cemetery Section 2C Site 1255 2040 Wellwood Avenue, in Farmingdale, New York 11735
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Obituary

William Redfield Dead at 49; A TV, Stage and Movie Actor By EMANUEL PERLMUTTER AUG. 18, 1976 August 18, 1976, Page 36 The New York Times Archives William Redfield, who started a 40‐year acting career when he appeared in 1936 at the age of 9 in the Broadway musical “Swing Your Lady,” died yesterday at St. Clare's Hospital of a respiratory ailment complicated by leukemia. He was 49 years old and lived at 888 Eighth Avenue. Mr. Redfield's long and varied career included more than 2,000 performances on the stage, in films, on television and on radio. His most recent film appearance was as Harding in the Oscar winning film “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.” Vincent Canby, movie critic for The New York Times, described his performance as “close to brilliant.” Mr. Redfield took his craft seriously. He wrote about acting in letters to newspaper drama pages, and contributed a monthly column to Playfare Magazine. “After his appearance in 1967 as Guildenstern in the John Gielgud‐Richard Burton Broadway production of “Hamlet,” he wrote a book entitled “Letters From an Actor,” which dealt with his experiences in the play and reflections on the performances and personal actions of those involved in it. Some of his opinions on the relations between actors and directors resulted in controversy between him and drama critics. In collaboration with the late Wally Cox, he wrote “Mr. Peepers,” a book containing vignettes on the Peepers role that Mr. Cox had played on television. An outgoing man with bright visage and ready wit, he had half-completed an account of the filming of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest” which he entitled “200 Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.” He had also completed the outlines of two novels and a screenplay. His philosophy on the relationship between performers and critics was expressed in a letter to The New York Times in which he asserted: “The trouble with 90 percent of critics is that they know nothing about the theater…. The not so surprising truth is that the only people who know anything about the theater are the people who put on plays.” Despite his poor opinion of critics, Mr. Redfield was generally acclaimed by them for his performances, especially for his Inlaying of the title role in Lillian Hellman's play “Montserrat” his enactment of the god Mercury in Cole Porter's Broadway musical “Out of This World,” his costarring role with Paul Scofield in a “A Man for All Seasons,” and in a revival of George Bernard Shaw's “Misalliance.” Some of the more recent films in which he appeared were with Charles Bronson in “Death Wish” with Barbara Streisand in “For Pete's Sake,” and with Robert Redford in “The Hot Rock.” Mr. Redfield was a founding member of the Actor's Studio with Lee Strasberg and Elia Kazan, and lectured frequently on, acting before professional and nonprofessional groups. He was also a frequent panelist on television talkshows, where he was considered a witty performer. Although he had been suffering from leukemia for the last two years, he continued to perform in films and on television. He had returned only a week ago from California after finishing his role in a new movie with Jackie Gleason. He estimated that he had made more than over 2,000 appearances, live and taped, on television shows. Mr. Redfield was born on the West Side of Manhattan, on Jan. 26, 1927. His father, Henry C. Redfield, was a music conductor and arranger, and his mother, the former Mareta A. George, had been a Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl. He served as an infantryman in World War II. He is survived by his wife, Lynda, and a son, Adam. a daughter, Liza, from his first marriage to Betsy Meade, and his mother.

Average Age & Life Expectancy

William Redfield lived 26 years shorter than the average Redfield family member when he died at the age of 49.
The average age of a Redfield family member is 75.
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William Redfield
His son Adam Redfield who is also an actor.
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William Redfield Autograph
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William Redfield
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William Redfield and Charles Bronson
A photo of William Redfield and Charles Bronson in Death Wish
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William Redfield and Bea Arthur
A photo of William Redfield and Bea Arthur in MAUDE.
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William Redfield and Jack Nicholson
A photo of William Redfield and Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
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William Redfield and Skip Homeier
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William Redfield and Charles Bronson
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William Redfield and Marlon Brando
A photo of William Redfieldand good buddy Marlon Brando
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William Redfield Book
A photo of William Redfield's book that I read a few times. Brilliant book worth reading.
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William Redfield
A photo of William Redfield in ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and who was brilliant in the film..
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1927 - 1976 World Events

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In 1927, in the year that William Redfield was born, in September, the Columbia Broadcasting System (later called CBS) became the second national radio network in the U.S. The first broadcast was a presentation by the Howard Barlow Orchestra from radio station WOR in Newark, New Jersey.

In 1939, when he was merely 12 years old, on the 1st of September, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. On September 17th, the Soviet Union invaded Poland as well. Poland expected help from France and the United Kingdom, since they had a pact with both. But no help came. By October 6th, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany held full control of the previously Polish lands. Eventually, the invasion of Poland lead to World War II.

In 1944, at the age of 17 years old, William was alive when on December 16th, The Battle of the Bulge began in the Ardennes forest on the Western Front. Lasting for a little over a month, the battle began with a surprise attack by Germany on the Allied forces The U.S. suffered their highest casualties of any operation in World War II - 89,000 were casualties, around 8,600 killed - but Germany also severely depleted their resources and they couldn't be replaced.

In 1967, by the time he was 40 years old, between June 5th and 10th, Israeli and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria fought what came to be called the "Six-Day War". The hostilities began when Israel launched "preemptive" strikes against Egypt, destroying nearly its entire air force. It ended with Israel occupying the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip and West Bank.

In 1976, in the year of William Redfield's passing, The United States celebrated the Bicentennial of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. It was a year long celebration, with the biggest events taking place on July 4th.

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