×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

William Paterson

Actor

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

  • Laurie Metcalf, John Lithgow'Hillary and Clinton'

    Why John Lithgow Worried About Starring in Broadway's 'Hillary and Clinton'

    When Lucas Hnath first conceived of “Hillary and Clinton” in 2008, he was writing for and about a very different America. Now, a total reimagining of the show has made its way to Broadway with Laurie Metcalf and John Lithgow in the titular roles. At the opening on Thursday night, the cast and creatives talked [...]

  • Patrick Page, Amber Grey, Eva Noblezada,

    'Hadestown' Took 12 Years to Get to Broadway, but It's More Relevant Than Ever

    When “Hadestown” was first staged as a tiny, DIY theater project in Vermont, those involved could never have predicted that it was the start of a 12-year journey to Broadway — or how painfully relevant it would be when it arrived. At Wednesday night’s opening at the Walter Kerr Theatre, the cast and creatives discussed [...]

  • Mick Jagger

    Mick Jagger Makes First Post-Surgery Appearance at Rolling Stones Ballet Premiere

    Rock legend Mick Jagger made his first public appearance post-heart surgery on Thursday night to catch a glimpse of the world premiere of the Rolling Stones ballet “Porte Rouge.” “I hope you are going to enjoy this wonderful new ballet, and, of course, the music,” the frontman declared in a pre-recorded message to the audience [...]

  • Adam Driver appears at the curtain

    Adam Driver on Starring in 'Burn This' for a Second Time

    The Hudson Theatre’s new production of “Burn This” marks its first Broadway revival since it premiered on the Great White Way in 1987, but Adam Driver is no stranger to the work. He starred as Pale in a Juilliard production of the Lanford Wilson drama when he was still a student — and only now, [...]

  • PMC Event Rome

    Film, Fashion, Formula E Mix at Rome E-Prix Bash

    Film, fashion and Formula E auto-racing fused during a dinner and celebration of the Rome E-Prix on Thursday at the Palazzo Dama by the Piazza del Popolo in the heart of the Eternal City.  Guests mingled and sipped cocktails as hors d’oeuvres were passed around in a former home of the Italian nobility with conversation [...]

  • Katy Perry, Diane von Furstenberg, Arianna

    Katy Perry and Anita Hill Honored at the DVF Awards

    Katy Perry was among the honorees at the 10th Annual DVF Awards on Thursday night. The singer was recognized for her advocacy work with both UNICEF and the LGBTQ community. “Music has opened the doors for so many opportunities for me,” she said while accepting the inspiration award. “The ability to meet people and champion [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content