Walter Roy Beery, an actor who appeared in numerous television shows but whose first love was the theater, died at his home in Sherman Oaks, Calif., on April 6 from complications of lymphoma. He was 75.
Beery supported himself by working as a film broker at MGM until beginning his acting career in summer stock. He caught his first break when cast in the original Broadway and national tour of “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.” During the staging at the Ahmanson Theatre, he took to the Los Angeles lifestyle and sought to return, which he did after a stint as guest artist and acting teacher at Portland State U.
Through the years Beery appeared in television shows including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “St. Elsewhere,” “Remington Steele,” “The Drew Carey Show” and “Numbers” as well as movies and television commercial. He worked as a senior model in the last several years of his life. Yet theater remained Beery’s passion.
He found his artistic home at Theatre West and was recognized for many of his performances there, most notably as Father Jack in “Dancing at Lughnasa” and as Father Liam Leary in Ray Bradbury’s “Falling Upward.” When the Bradbury show transferred to the Falcon Theatre and later to the El Portal, the author insisted that Beery continue in the part, and Bradbury subsequently wrote a new play, “Drunk and in Charge of a Bicycle,” featuring the Father Leary character, with Beery reprising the role. He played one more priestly character for Bradbury in “The Machineries of Joy” at Fremont Centre Theatre. The actor was proud of the friendship he formed with Bradbury.
Beery received an ensemble acting Ovation Award for portraying Mark Van Doren in “Night & Her Stars” at Alliance Rep. He played Heinrich Mann in Odyssey Theater’s revival of “Tales From Hollywood,” and he returned to the Ahmanson for a revival of “Dead End.” Other local venues at which he appeared include Hudson Theater, 24th Street Theatre and East West Players.
Born in Salem, Ohio, Beery attended Ohio State to study engineering but left to pursue acting at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City.
Beery is survived by his wife of 43 years, playwright Barbara Nell Beery; son Brian Jules Beery, a screenwriter and film teacher; a grandson and two sisters. Funeral services were held April 11 at Mount Sinai, Simi Valley. A celebration of his life will be held at Theatre West, with details to be announced.