April 19, 1938 – April 6, 2014
Walter Roy Beery, a loved and respected member of the financial and theater community, passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by his loving family and newborn grandson (Noah Walter Beery) on Sunday, April 6th from complications of lymphoma. He was 75.
Born in Salem, Ohio, Walter was the son of Kathryn (Knizat) and Walter LeRoy Beery. He grew to be a tall (6’ 3 1/2”) young man and believing himself scrawny, Walter bought weights through the mail and built himself up. His habit for exercise continued throughout his life. He ran 2 Los Angeles Marathons well into middle age and was once asked to train to become a Mr. Universe.
While attending Salem High School, he worked at the Salem News as a flyboy and apprentice printer until he went off to college at Ohio State to study engineering. But once understanding his true passion was theater, he left to study acting at American Academy of Dramatic Arts in NYC. Walter supported himself by working at MGM as a film broker until beginning his acting career in summer stock. He caught his first break when cast in the original Broadway and National Tour of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead. During the Ahmanson Theatre production, Walter took to the Los Angeles life style and wanted to return. He did so after appearing as Guest Artist and Acting Teacher at Portland State.
Shortly after relocating to Los Angeles, he met his future wife and soul mate, Barbara Nell (Kaufman) Fine, a fashion editor, stylist and graduate film student at Loyola University. Together they pursued their artistic passions, but always with an eye to practical matters. For Barbara, it was teaching. Walter, financial
services including investments, insurance, mutual funds and counseling. Working for major financial institutions, his integrity, analytic skills and optimistic outlook served his clients well.
Through the years Walter has appeared in numerous television shows (including Mary Tyler Moore, St. Elsewhere, Remington Steele, Drew Carey, Numb3rs, Eagleheart), movies and television commercials, and was surprised to find himself a popular senior model the last several years of his life. Yet theater continued to be this gentle giant’s passion. He found his artistic home at Theatre West and was recognized for many of his performance there, most notably as Father Jack in Dancing at Lughnasa and Father Liam Leary in Ray Bradbury’s Falling Upward. When the Bradbury show transferred to Falcon Theatre and later to El Portal, Ray insisted Walter continue in the part and subsequently wrote a new play, Drunk and in Charge of a Bicycle, with Walter reprising the Father Leary character. Walter was proud of the friendship he formed with Ray Bradbury.
Walter received an ensemble acting Ovation Award for portraying Mark Van Doren in Night & Her Stars at Alliance Rep. He played Heinrich Man in Odyssey Theater’s revival of Tales From Hollywood and was an audience favorite for several seasons at the Glendale Summer Theater. He was surprised by his opportunity to return to the Ahmanson when cast in the revival of Dead End. Other local venues include Hudson Theater, 24th Street Theatre, East West Players.
Walter is survived by his wife of 43 years, playwright Barbara Nell Beery, his son Brian Jules Beery – an award-winning screenwriter and film teacher, daughter-in-law Gema Beery, grandson Noah Walter Beery, sister and brother-in-law Shery and Tim Arndt, sister Barbara Clunen, brother-in-law and sister-in-law Bill and Sue Kaufman, aunts Deborah Beery and Helena Phillips of North Carolina, and an amazing generation of nieces and nephew. Funeral services were held Friday, April 11 at Mount Sinai, Simi Valley. A celebration of his life will be held at Theatre West. Details to be announced.