William Schallert Biography

William Schallert
William Schallert

Since he started acting professionally in 1947, William Schallert has appeared in over 80 theatrical films, 650 television episodes (starring as a regular in five series, with recurring roles in five others), fifty stage plays, and several thousand voice-over commercials.

He began his acting career on stage as a founding member and owner, from 1946 to 1950, of The Circle Theatre in Hollywood, a 150 seat theatre-in-the-round which he and the other members of the company created out of an old drugstore and which became the fountainhead of the small theatre movement in Southern California. He appeared in 25 plays there including a production of Rain directed by Charles Chaplin in which he played Rev. Davidson opposite June Havoc.

He toured with Patricia Neal, Vincent Price, Estelle Winwood, and Reginald Denny in the National Company of T.S. Eliot's The Cocktail Party; played Willie Oban in John Houseman's Production of The Iceman Cometh for the Center Theatre Group at UCLA, and created the role of The Judge in Daniel Berrigan's The Trial of the Catonsville Nine for Gordon Davidson, both at the Mark Taper Forum and later in the New York production, for which he won an OBIE in 1971.

Other plays at the Taper included Volpone and A Flea in Her Ear, and at the Ahmanson Ring Round the Moon with Glynis Johns, Mary Stuart for Jack O'Brien, and most recently Candide for Gordon Davidson in which he starred as Dr. Pangloss/Martin/Storyteller with Nancy Dussault. He was also in the 1995 Steppenwolf Production of Steve Martin's Picasso at the Lapin Agile at what is now the Geffen Playhouse, and last summer, in the world premiere of Tom McCormack's House produced by Ben Mordecai at Garry Marshall's Falcon Theater in Burbank. He received several Los Angeles Critics' Circle Awards and nominations.

His favorite stage roles over the years were Tommy Turner in The Male Animal with Marjorie Lord at the Pasadena Playhouse in 1954, Touchstone in As You Like It with Penny Fuller, Kris Tabori, John Ritter, and Roscoe Lee Brown for the Los Angeles Shakespeare Festival at the John Anson Ford, in 1972, creating the role of "Junior" in Jerry Mayer's Aspirin and Elephants, at the Santa Monica Playhouse in 1990, and starring as Norman with Jane Kean in On Golden Pond in Denver in 1995. He looks forward to adding Bishop Watson in The Special Prisoner at Playwrights Theatre of NJ to the list.

He has studied briefly at various times with Sanford Meisner, Bobby Lewis, and David Craig, and more recently for three and a half years with Stephen Book.

His theatrical feature films include Lonely Are the Brave, In the Heat of the Night, Charley Varrick, Teachers, a couple of Disney films, several recent films by Joe Dante, plus John Huston's neglected classic, The Red Badge of Courage.

You can also see him on The Disney Channel as Boarder Hodges in The Torkelsons and on Nick-at-Nite or The Family Channel, as Dobie Gillis's teacher Mr. Pomfritt, the ancient Admiral Hargrade in Get Smart, Nilz Baris in Star Trek's famous "Trouble with Tribbles" episode and hundreds of guest-star roles over the years in such classic series as Burns and Allen, Gunsmoke, Have Gun, Will Travel, the Lucy Show, Wild Wild West, Bonanza, The Waltons, Lou Grant, and Murphy Brown. More recently, in ER and Family Law.

He served as President of the Screen Actors Guild from 1979-81, has been a Trustee of the SAG-Producers Pension and Health Plans since 1983, and of the Motion Picture and TV Fund since 1975. While he was SAG President, he founded the Committee for Performers with Disabilities. In 1993, he received the Ralph Morgan Award for service to the union.

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Recent Performances
Production/Role WhereOpening Night
The Special Prisoner ......John Quincy Watson Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey 2/7/2002
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