Having acted onstage since boyhood, in his early 20s he and his wife headlined as a vaudeville comedy team; several years later they became Broadway stars in The Ziegfeld Follies. In 1927, Ziegfeld teamed him with Robert Woolsey in the Broadway musical Rio Rita; they reprised their roles in the musical's film version (1929), launching a screen career as a very successful comedy team until Woolsey's death in 1938. Wheeler appeared in Broadway shows and on the road, and also made a few more films. He was a regular on the '50s TV series Brave Eagle. In the '60s he performed in New York and Las Vegas nightclubs.