You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

William Paterson


William Paterson, who worked continuously as an actor in regional theater for 45 years, died Wednesday Sept. 3 at his home in San Francisco. He was 84 and recently had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Paterson began his regional theater career in 1947 at the Cleveland Playhouse, remaining with the company for 20 seasons. In 1967, he joined the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco for its inaugural San Francisco season; he continued to perform with A.C.T. through 1998.

Buffalo native got hooked on the theater when he took a class at Studio Theater as a senior in high school. It was his only formal acting training, but he was in the Sock & Buskin drama club at Brown University and acted in summer stock during his college years.

He graduated with honors in 1941 and then spent four years in the U.S. Army during World War II, earning a Bronze Star and, when wounded in the Battle of the Bulge, a Purple Heart.

He joined the Cleveland Playhouse a year after leaving the service, making his debut in Maxwell Anderson’s “Joan of Lorraine.” He performed in seven to 10 plays each season in repertory at the Playhouse and spent summers performing with the Cleveland company at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York. He also worked in live TV and film and toured his one-man shows, in which he portrayed Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Benjamin Franklin and others.

In 1951 he met and married Cora Beams, a hairstylist who often worked on Playhouse productions. They were married until her death in 1993.

In 1967, he left the Playhouse to join A.C.T., where his first role was James Tyrone in Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” He also had major roles in many shows, including “Buried Child,” “The Gin Game,” “Painting Churches,” “Saint Joan” and “Gaslight.” He created the role of Scrooge in A.C.T.’s holiday production of “A Christmas Carol” and played the part for 14 years. His final perf was in “Mary Stuart,” in 1998.

Paterson won numerous awards during his time with A.C.T., including Drama-Logue and Bay Area Theater Critics’ Circle awards. He served for nine years on the San Francisco Arts Commission and for two years was a trustee of the American Conservatory Theatre Foundation.

He and his wife also were active in social and political causes; he twice served as Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s campaign treasurer.

He published an autobiog, “Solid Seasons,” in 1997.

He is survived by a stepdaughter, a sister, a nephew and a niece. Donations may be made to Hospice by the Bay.

More Scene

  • First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban

    First Look at SAG Awards' Cuban-Inspired After-Party (EXCLUSIVE)

    Celebrities at this year’s SAG Awards won’t have to go far for some tropical fun. Sunday’s annual post-show gala, hosted by People magazine for the 23rd year, is set to feature a Cuban-themed party space adjacent to the Shrine Auditorium. “We’re kind of going back to more of a thematic element. I have some close [...]

  • DF-10956_R – Gwilym Lee (Brian May) and

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Producer Confirms Bryan Singer's Reason for Leaving, Says 'No One' Was Attached to Play Mercury

    “Bohemian Rhapsody” producer Graham King provided insight into some of the events surrounding the Golden Globe-winning film Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards Nominees Breakfast, including director Bryan Singer’s departure from the film partway through production. “It’s an unfortunate situation, with like 16, 17 days to go and Bryan Singer just had some issues, his [...]

  • Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce

    Mj Rodriguez, Nico Santos to Announce GLAAD Media Award Nominations

    Mj Rodriguez and Nico Santos are set to announce the nominees for the 30th annual GLAAD Media Awards. The “Pose” star and “Crazy Rich Asians” funny man will make the announcement during a live-stream hosted by AT&T and from the AT&T Hello Lounge at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday, Jan. 25. “The images and stories recognized [...]

  • Emile Hirsch, Matt SmileyEmile Hirsch hosts

    Emile Hirsch Hosts Smiley Face Art Opening at Mondrian Hotel

    Despite the rain on Wednesday night in West Hollywood, there were plenty of smiles inside the Mondrian hotel thanks to artist Matt Smiley‘s Refresh exhibition. Not only is Smiley his real last name, but several of his paintings and other pieces in the exhibit feature smiley faces. “I’ve seen more smiley symbolism lately, and I’ve [...]

  • Randall Park, left, and Constance Wu

    Constance Wu Wants Her 'Fresh Off the Boat' Co-Star Randall Park to Host the Oscars

    While the Academy may have decided to go hostless for this year’s Oscars, that doesn’t mean the rest of Hollywood has stopped thinking about who would be a good choice for the emceeing gig. Former host Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested Ken Jeong. Jeong said, when he was a guest on “The View,” Goldberg told him [...]

  • 'Schitt's Creek' Stars Reveal Dream Guest

    'Schitt's Creek' Cast Reveals Dream Guest Stars: Oprah, Beyonce and ...

    “Schitt’s Creek” has big dreams. Dan Levy, who stars as David on the series, says his wish list of guest stars includes Oprah, Beyonce, Mariah Carey and Gwyneth Paltrow. “All for different reasons, none of whom we’ll get,” he cracked at the Critics’ Choice Awards. For those who haven’t caught on to the “Schitt’s Creek” [...]

  • Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bundchen

    Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen to Be Honored at UCLA Science Gala

    Science can be very glamorous. It certainly will be during Oscar week on Feb. 21 when the UCLA Institute of the Environment & Sustainability (IoES) honors Barbra Streisand and Gisele Bündchen for environmental activism at its annual Hollywood for Science Gala. “When I moved to LA, the air was unbreathable. Rivers were catching fire in [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content