Patrick Billingsley

Patrick Paul Billingsley (May 3, 1925 – April 22, 2011[1][2]) was an American mathematician and stage and screen actor, noted for his books in advanced probability theory and statistics. He was born and raised in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1946.

Patrick P. Billingsley
Billingsley in 1961
Born(1925-05-03)May 3, 1925
DiedApril 22, 2011(2011-04-22) (aged 85)
Alma materPrinceton University
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Chicago
Doctoral advisorWilliam Feller

Academic career

After earning a Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton University in 1955, he was attached to the NSA until his discharge from the Navy in 1957. In 1958 he became a professor of mathematics and statistics at the University of Chicago, where he served as chair of the Department of Statistics from 1980 to 1983, and retired in 1994. In 1964–65 he was a Fulbright Fellow and visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen. In 1971–72 he was a Guggenheim Fellow and visiting professor at the University of Cambridge (Peterhouse). From 1976 to 1979 he edited the Annals of Probability. In 1983 he was president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He was given the Lester R. Ford Award for his article "Prime Numbers and Brownian Motion."[3] He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1986.[4]

He starred in a number of plays at Court Theatre and Body Politic Theatre in Chicago and appeared in at least nine films.

In Young Men and Fire, fellow University of Chicago professor Norman Maclean wrote about Billingsley that "he is a distinguished statistician and one of the best amateur actors I have ever seen".


Stage plays



  • Dummy (1978, TV Movie) - Dr. Morris
  • Flesh and Blood (1978) - Boxing official
  • The Children Nobody Wanted (1981) - Preacher
  • The Dollmaker (1983) - Cooper
  • The Last Leaf – A Parable of Easter (1983, Short) - Dr. Winchester
  • The Private Eye (1983) - Guard
  • Murder Ordained (1986) - Ray Call
  • Jack and Mike (episode) (1986) - Judge
  • Sable (1987) - Sullivan
  • The Father Clements Story (1987, TV Movie) - Father Donovan (final film role)


He died in 2011, aged 85, in his Hyde Park, Chicago home. He was survived by his children, Franny, Patty, Julie, Marty and Paul, and his companion, Florence Weisblatt. His wife of nearly 50 years, social activist Ruth Billingsley, died in 2000.


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