John Wheeler

Active - 1969 - 2005  |   Born - Jun 20, 1930   |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Action, Western, Musical

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Biography by Bruce Eder

John Wheeler, a bald-headed character actor of short stature, is most familiar from television, though he started his career in music. Born in Texas, he attended the University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1952. After serving in the United States Army, he moved to New York City to pursue his master's degree. Possessed of a rich, powerful tenor voice, he sang with the City Center Opera in New York and also performed in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Carousel and Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, and Adolph Green's Wonderful Town at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair, later repeating his role in the latter work in its television presentation that same year, which starred Rosalind Russell. On Broadway, he appeared in The Happiest Girl in the World, Kean, Cafe Crown, and I Had a Ball. He was also in the stage version of Sweet Charity, portraying Herman, the dance hall proprietor, a role that went to Stubby Kaye in the movie adaptation (Wheeler played a smaller role in the film and never had the chance to immortalize his voice on "I Love To Cry at Weddings"). Wheeler remained active into the 21st century, and is best known to television audiences for his work in episodes of such oft-rerun 1970s sitcoms as The Brady Bunch ("Dough Re Mi") and, most especially, The Odd Couple -- the latter series made use of Wheeler's vocal talents as well as his comedic acting ability as a bit player in a half dozen episodes, casting him as various characters (most often referred to as Fred Felscher) associated with Felix's opera club. He has also done numerous commercials.

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