Whitehead, Paxton 1937-
WHITEHEAD, Paxton 1937-
PERSONAL: Born October 17, 1937, in East Malling, Kent, England; son of Charles Parkin (a lawyer) and Louise (Hunt) Whitehead; married Patricia Gage (an actress), January 2, 1971 (divorced); married Katherine Robertson; children: (second marriage) Sarah, Charles.
CAREER: Actor and director. Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, artistic director, 1967-77.
Stage appearances include The Epilogue, The Old Stagers Theatre, Canterbury, England, 1949; All for Mary, Devonshire Park, Eastbourne, England, 1956; Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford, England, 1958; Gallows Humor, Gramercy Arts Theatre, New York City, 1961; One Way Pendulum, East 74th Street Theatre, New York City, 1961; The Affair, Henry Miller's Theatre, 1962; A Doll's House, Theatre Four, New York City, 1963; Henry V, American Shakespeare Festival, Stratford, CT, 1963; King Lear, American Shakespeare Festival, Stratford, 1963; Beyond the Fringe, John Golden Theatre, New York City, 1964; The Country Wife, Front Street Theatre, Memphis, TN, 1964; My Fair Lady, Front Street Theatre, 1964; The Rivals, Charles Playhouse, Boston, MA, 1964; The Entertainer, Hartford Stage Company, Hartford, CT, 1965; Major Barbara, Playhouse in the Park, Cincinnati, OH, 1965; Heartbreak House, Manitoba Theatre Center, Winnipeg, Ontario, Canada, 1965; The Public Eye, Manitoba Theatre Center, 1965; The Importance of Being Earnest, Manitoba Theatre Center, 1965; The Importance of Being Earnest, Canadian Players, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1966; Misalliance, Shaw Festival, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Canada, 1966; The Apple Cart, Shaw Festival, 1966; Arms and the Man, Shaw Festival, 1967; Major Barbara, Shaw Festival, 1967; Heartbreak House, Shaw Festival, 1968; The Chemmy Circle, Shaw Festival, 1968; Charley's Aunt, Studio Arena Theatre, Buffalo, NY, 1968; Chemin de Fer, Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles, 1969; Hudson West Theatre, New York City, 1969; The Doctor's Dilemma, Shaw Festival, 1969; The Guardsman, Shaw Festival, 1969; Forty Years On, Shaw Festival, 1970; The Chemmy Circle, Arena Stage, Washington, DC, 1970; Heartbreak House, Goodman Memorial Theatre, Chicago, IL, 1970; The Brass Butterfly, Chelsea Theatre Center, New York City, 1970; Candida, Longacre Theatre, New York City, 1970; Habeas Corpus, Martin Beck Theatre, New York City, 1975; The Philanderer, Shaw Festival, 1971; Tonight at 8:30, Shaw Festival, 1971; You Never Can Tell, Shaw Festival, 1973; Fanny's First Play, Shaw Festival, 1973; Charley's Aunt, Shaw Festival, 1974; The Devil's Disciple, Shaw Festival, 1975; Arms and the Man, Shaw Festival, 1976; The Apple Cart, Shaw Festival, 1976; The Millionairess, Shaw Festival, 1976; Thark, Shaw Festival, 1977; The Crucifer of Blood, Helen Hayes Theatre, New York City, 1978; Travesties, Manitoba Theatre Centre, 1979; The Trials of Oscar Wilde, The Citadel Theatre, Edmonton, Ontario, Canada, 1980; Thark, Philadelphia Drama Guild, 1980; Twelfth Night, Philadelphia Drama Guild, 1980; Camelot, State Theatre, New York City, 1980; The Pirates of Penzance, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, 1981; The Miser, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, CA, 1982; Heartbreak House, Theatre Royal, London, 1983; The Rivals, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, 1983; Noises Off, Brooks Atkinson Theatre, New York City, 1983-85; Richard III, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, 1985; Much Ado about Nothing, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, 1986; Out of Order, Paper Mill Playhouse, Millburn, NJ, 1997; The Mask of Moriarty, Paper Mill Playhouse, 1998; Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tiffany Theater, Hollywood, CA, 1998; A Song at Twilight, Mirage Theater Company, Lucille Lortel Theater, New York City, 2000; and Shadows of the Evening, Mirage Theater Company, Lucille Lortel Theater, 2000. Also appeared in A Little Hotel on the Side; King Lear, Manitoba Theatre Centre; and Neil Simon's London Suite.
Major tours include Hamlet, Royal Shakespeare Company, Moscow and Leningrad, Russia, 1958; The Grass Is Greener, Royal Shakespeare Company, United Kingdom cities, 1959; Pygmalion, Royal Shakespeare Company, U.K. cities, 1960; Beyond the Fringe, U.S. cities, 1963; The Bed before Yesterday, U.S. cities, 1976; and Camelot, U.S. cities, 1980-81. Also toured with the Andrew McMaster Company, United Kingdom cities, 1957.
Stage work as director includes The Circle, Shaw Festival, 1967; The Chemmy Circle, Shaw Festival, 1968; A Flea in Her Ear, Charles Playhouse, 1969; Forty Years On, Shaw Festival, 1970; The Secretary Bird, Main Stage, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, 1970; The Chemmy Circle, Main Stage, Vancouver, 1971; The Sorrows of Frederick, Main Stage, Vancouver, 1971; Misalliance, Shaw Festival, 1972; Getting Married, Shaw Festival, 1972; Charley's Aunt, Shaw Festival, 1972; Widowers' Houses, Shaw Festival, 1973; Arms and the Man, Main Stage, Vancouver, 1973; Misalliance, Walnut Street Theatre, Philadelphia, PA, then Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, 1982; The Real Thing, Seattle Repertory Theatre, WA, 1986; and Beyond the Fringe, Old Globe Theatre, San Diego, 1986.
Film appearances include Riel, 1979; Back to School, Orion, 1986; Jumping Jack Flash, 1986; Baby Boom, 1987; Rover Dangerfield, 1991; Nervous Ticks, 1992; My Boyfriend's Back, 1993; The Adventures of Huck Finn, 1993; Rocket Man, Buena Vista, 1997; Wakko's Wish, 1999; The Duke, Buena Vista Home Video, 1999; and Kate and Leopold, Miramax, 2001.
Appearances on television series include Marblehead Manor, 1987; Mad about You, NBC, 1992-99; Simon, The WB, 1995; The Real Adventures of Johnny Quest, TBS, 1996. Appearances in TV movies include Chips, the War Dog, The Disney Channel, 1990; Child of Darkness, Child of Light, USA Network, 1991; Boris and Natasha, Showtime, 1992; 12:01, Fox, 1993; Where Are My Children?, ABC, 1994; Trick of the Eye, CBS, 1994; and London Suite, NBC, 1996. Also appeared in The First Night of Pygmalion, CBC.
Appearances on episodic television include Hart to Hart, ABC, 1982-83; "Foiled Again," Magnum, P.I., CBS, 1982; "Beneath the Surface," The A Team, NBC, 1986; The Alan King Show, CNN, 1986; Silver Spoons, NBC, 1986; "The Grand Old Lady," Murder, She Wrote, CBS, 1989; Dinosaurs, ABC, 1991; "The Troubles," Law & Order, NBC, 1991; Almost Home, ABC, 1993; "The Therapy Episode" and "The Sleep Clinic," Ellen, ABC, 1995; Lush Life, Showtime, 1996; "Caroline and the Cat Dancer," Caroline in the City, NBC, 1996; "The Parent Trap," Ellen, ABC, 1996; "A Lilith," Frasier, NBC, 1996; Early Edition, CBS, 1997; "The One with Rachel's Crush" and "The One with Joey's Dirty Day," Friends, NBC, 1998; and "Noel," The West Wing, NBC, 2000. Also appeared in 3rd Rock from the Sun and Brothers.
Appearances on TV specials include Lady Windermere's Fan, CBC, 1966; The Wit and World of GBS, BBC and CBC, 1971; The National Dream, CBC, 1973; The Village Wooing, CBC, 1974; America Picks the All-Time Favorite Movies, ABC, 1988; Tales from the Hollywood Hills: The Old Reliable, PBS, 1988; Hale the Hero, Arts and Entertainment, 1992; and Monster in My Pocket: The Big Scream, ABC, 1992. Appearances on TV miniseries include The National Dream, 1974; An Inconvenient Woman, ABC, 1991; and LIBERTY! The American Revolution, PBS, 1997.
(Translator and adaptor, with Suzanne Grossman) Georges Feydeau, Chemin de fer, Samuel French (New York, NY), 1968.
(With Suzanne Grossman) A Flea in Her Ear, produced at the Music Center, Los Angeles, CA, 1982.
Other plays with Grossman include The Chemmy Circle, 1968, and There's One in Every Marriage, 1972.
SIDELIGHTS: Although British-born actor Paxton Whitehead has appeared in numerous films and television productions, his principal career has been on the stage. Likewise his writings, collaborative works with Suzanne Grossman, are stage plays rather than film scripts.
Whitehead, who has lived in the United States since 1960, noted in an interview with Ira J. Bilowit for Back Stage that stage actors are held in much higher regard in the land of his birth than in his adopted homeland. Naturally, this has put him in an awkward position, since, as he commented, "I have been fortunate to be able to support myself, and subsequently my family, with work that has been primarily on stage. Television and film have had small influence on my life and income." Certainly this is true of his writing, but in the 1990s he began to have more film roles, including an appearance in the time-travel romantic comedy Kate and Leopold.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 33, Gale (Detroit, MI), 2001.
Back Stage, December 21, 1990, Ira J. Bilowit, "Making a Living on the Stage" (profile), p. 26.
Los Angeles Magazine, July, 1982, Dick Lochte, review of A Flea in Her Ear, p. 253.*