William Redfield (actor)

William Redfield (January 26, 1927 – August 17, 1976) was an American actor and author who appeared in numerous theatrical, film, radio, and television roles.

William Redfield
Born(1927-01-26)January 26, 1927
DiedAugust 17, 1976(1976-08-17) (aged 49)
OccupationActor and writer
Years active19391976
Spouse(s)Betsy Redfield, Lynda Redfield

Early years

Born in New York City, Redfield was the son of Henry C. Redfield and the former Mareta A. George. His father was a conductor and arranger of music, while his mother was a Ziegfeld Follies chorus girl.[1]

Acting career

Redfield began acting when he was 9 years old, appearing in the Broadway production Swing Your Lady (1936).[1] He appeared in the original 1938 Broadway production of Our Town. A founding member of New York's Actors Studio,[2] Redfield's additional theatre credits include A Man for All Seasons, Hamlet, You Know I Can't Hear You When the Water's Running, and Dude. He also sang & danced the role of "Mercury" in Cole Porter's Out of This World.

Other Broadway credits include: Excursion (1937), Virginia (1937), Stop-over (1938), Junior Miss, Snafu, U.S.A., Barefoot Boy With Cheek (1947), Montserrat (1949), Misalliance (1953), Double in Hearts (1956), Midgie Purvis (1961), A Minor Adjustment (1967) and The Love Suicide at Schofield Barracks (1972).

His film credits include The Connection, Such Good Friends, Fantastic Voyage, A New Leaf and For Pete's Sake. Redfield's best known film appearance was as Dale Harding in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

On television, Redfield played the title role in the DuMont series Jimmy Hughes, Rookie Cop (1953), and appeared in The Philco Television Playhouse, Lux Video Theatre, The United States Steel Hour, Studio One, As the World Turns, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Naked City, Maude, Rich Man, Poor Man Book II, Bewitched , and The Bob Newhart Show. He is best known as Floyd, the younger brother of Felix Unger (played by Tony Randall), on The Odd Couple.


In his book Letters from an Actor, Redfield published a colorful and personal recollection of his work in the renowned 1964 international stage production of Hamlet, starring Richard Burton and directed by Sir John Gielgud.[3] He also was a columnist for Playfare Magazine and collaborated with Wally Cox on Mr. Peepers, a book about the television character with that name.[1]


During the filming of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Redfield was diagnosed with leukemia by doctor Dean Brooks, who also portrayed Dr. Spivey in the film. Redfield died at Saint Clare's Hospital[1] on August 17, 1976 at age 49,[4] with the cause of death given as "a respiratory ailment complicated by leukemia."[1] He and his wife had a son and a daughter.[1]


Year Title Role Notes
1939Back Door to HeavenCharley Smith
1955Conquest of SpaceRoy Cooper
1956The Proud and ProfaneChaplain Lt. (jg) Holmes
1958I Married a WomanEddie Benson - Elevator Operator
1961The ConnectionJim Dunn
1964Pão de AçúcarGary Wills
1966Duel at DiabloSgt. Ferguson
1966Fantastic VoyageCaptain Bill Owens
1967All WomanTod
1971PigeonsJonathan's Father
1971A New LeafBeckett
1971Such Good FriendsBarney
1972The Hot RockLt. Hoover
1974For Pete's SakeFred Robbins
1974Death WishSam Kreutzer
1975One Flew Over the Cuckoo's NestDale Harding
1977Mr. BillionLeopold Lacy(final film role)

Radio appearances

1952Grand Central StationIt Makes a Difference[5]
1955-57X Minus OneNumerous episodes
1974-76CBS Radio Mystery Theater80 episodes


  1. Permutter, Emanuel (August 18, 1976). "William Redfield Dead at 49; A TV, Stage and Movie Actor". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 29 June 2017. Retrieved 29 June 2017.
  2. Garfield, David (1980). "Birth of The Actors Studio: 1947-1950". A Player's Place: The Story of the Actors Studio. New York: MacMillan Publishing Co., Inc. p. 52. ISBN 0-02-542650-8. Lewis' class included Herbert Berghof, Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Mildred Dunnock, Tom Ewell, John Forsythe, Anne Jackson, Sidney Lumet, Kevin McCarthy, Karl Malden, E.G. Marshall, Patricia Neal, William Redfield, Jerome Robbins, Maureen Stapleton, Beatrice Straight, Eli Wallach, and David Wayne.
  3. "Letters from an Actor". amazon.com. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  4. "Leukemia kills actor Redfield". Eugene Register-Guard. August 18, 1976. p. 6A. Retrieved December 7, 2014.
  5. Kirby, Walter (March 2, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 42. Retrieved May 28, 2015 via Newspapers.com.
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