WESTON, JACK (21 August 1924-3 May 1996), was a well-known Broadway, TV, and film actor. He was originally named Jack Weinstein, born to parents Morris Weinstein and Anna Tizer, and grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, with his brother, Sam.
Weston described himself as a bad student and the class clown. He attended Parkwood Elementary School, Patrick Henry Junior High, and Glenville High. While he attended elementary school his father, a shoemaker, got a call home from his teacher about his behavior, saying he would make a better actor than student. His father took him to the children’s section of the CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE theater, where he worked as an actor for ten years. At age ten, Weston also acted in Hebrew school, frequently playing the parts of older bearded men.
When he was sixteen Weston dropped out of high school to support his family, but continued acting, performing every Saturday. He worked as an usher in theaters, and when he was an adult became an apprentice at the Playhouse , where he stayed until 1943, when he was drafted to fight in World War II. Weston served as a machine gunner in the 34th Infantry Division in Italy and North Africa.
After the war, Weston toured Japan, China, and Korea for a year as manager of the troupe performing Three’s a Family, sponsored by the United Service Organization. He then moved to New York in 1947, and studied acting with Lee Strasberg at the American Theater Wing with the support of the GI Bill. However, he was unable to get an acting job for the next three years. Moving between Cleveland and New York, he instead worked washing dishes, sorting mail, driving an elevator, or even selling his own blood to make ends meet.
Money was tight for Weston when he moved back to Cleveland in 1948 and joined the Cleveland 500 light opera, where he met his wife, Marge Redmond. The two went back to New York in 1949 and got married. Finally, in 1950 Weston won a role in the Broadway comedy, Season in the Sun, in which his on stage role included only a single spoken word.
From that point onward his acting career grew. He appeared in TV programs and productions such as Studio One, My Sister Eileen, and South Pacific, and acted in both the movie and television versions of Four Seasons.
In 1956, Weston and his wife moved to Los Angeles, where he began to pick up roles in Hollywood. His first was as a villain in the television series, Gunsmoke. He also played the antagonist opposite Audrey Hepburn in Wait Until Dark. Weston was a versatile actor who also played lighter roles in Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, Cactus Flower, and Dirty Dancing.
Weston also remained active on Broadway, with roles in Bells are Ringing, and The Floating Lightbulb, for which he received a Tony nomination.
Weston’s acting career stretched over 40 years, during which he made a name for himself as a character actor, accepting a diverse range of roles.
Weston later married for a second time in 1993 to Laurie Gilkes. They had one child together and remained married until Weston’s death in 1996 where he died at the age of 71 after a six year struggle with lymphoma.
Grace Howard and Vinod Sardesai