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Will Geer Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4) | Mini Bio (1) | Spouse (1) | Trivia (13) | Personal Quotes (2)

Overview (4)

Date of Birth 9 March 1902Frankfort, Indiana, USA
Date of Death 22 April 1978Los Angeles, California, USA  (respiratory ailment)
Birth NameWilliam Aughe Ghere
Height 6' 2" (1.88 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Will Geer admired his grandfather, a man who said hello to trees by their Latin names and who had used what he brought back to Indiana from the California gold rush to build Frankfort's first opera house. Will pursued a college major in botany, from Chicago through a Master's degree at Columbia, but ultimately gave in to his need to perform. Starting with touring company tent shows and river boats, his six-decade career included Broadway, movies, television; many Shakespeare roles; one-man performances as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain. His best known role was his last, Zebulon Walton, grandpa in the long-running television series The Waltons (1971). Less well-known was his life-long role as a political agitator and radical ("Someone who goes to the roots, which is the Latin derivation of radical") and folklorist/folksinger - he toured U.S. government work camps in the 1930s, singing with Woody Guthrie and Burl Ives. He was blacklisted during the McCarthy era for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Affairs. In 1951, he formed the "Theatricum Botanicum," a repertory theater in Topanga Canyon, California, where he not only coached actors but also encouraged outdoor philosophical discussion and, of course, folksinging. At his deathbed, his family sang "This Land Is Your Land" and recited Robert Frost poems. His ashes lie in a corner of the Shakespearean garden on the grounds of his Theatricum Botanicum.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Spouse (1)

Herta Ware (1934 - 1954) (divorced) (3 children)

Trivia (13)

Father of Kate Geer, Thad Geer and Ellen Geer.
Had a most unusual hobby of raising all the plants mentioned in the works of Shakespeare.
Member of Lambda Chi Alpha.
Geer was an early boyfriend of Harry Hay, the Los Angeles Communist and radical who founded America's first large-scale gay activist organization, the Mattachine Society.
His fervent, active interest in liberal politics resulted in his Hollywood blacklisting in 1951. He built the Will Geer Theatrical Botanicum during those hard times in order to find an acting haven for himself and his many blacklisted friends.
Changed his last name from Ghere to Geer because it was simpler to spell.
Was a member of Orson Welles' and John Houseman's Project 891 theatre company...sponsored by the Federal Theatre Project.
Received a 1964 Tony nomination as Best Featured Actor in a Musical for his role in "110 In The Shade", a musical version of the film The Rainmaker (1956). The leading lady in the musical was Inga Swenson, who was also nominated.
Claimed that he was cast as "Slim" in the Broadway play version of John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men (1939)" by Steinbeck himself because he showed up to the audition in bluejeans and Steinbeck thought he looked the part. Steinbeck was sitting outside the stage door on a chair when he made the decision as Geer filed past him.
Had a degree in horticulture. Later became a vegetarian.
Was briefly considered for the part of "Amos McCoy" for The Real McCoys (1957) when original choice, Walter Brennan, was unavailable. However, since show creator Irving Pincus created the part with Walter Brennan in mind, he decided to wait until Brennan was available.
Ex-father-in-law of Larry Linville.
Grandfather of Kelly Linville.

Personal Quotes (2)

For well over half a century I have never gone a day without getting acquainted with some other person, and in those times I've only had my face slapped once and been called a few names.
I'm a lifelong agitator, a radical. A rebel is just against things for rebellion's sake. By radical, I mean someone who goes to the roots.

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