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Will Geer

Will Geer was an American actor. Geer's real name was William Auge Ghere. He is best known for his portrayal of the character Grandpa Zebulon Zeb Walton, in the popular 1970s TV series The Waltons.

Geer was heavily influenced by his grandfather, who taught him the botanical names of the plants in his native Indiana. He started out to become a botanist, studying the subject and obtaining a master's degree from Columbia University. But he eventually succumbed to the allure of acting.

He began his career touring in tent shows and on river boats. He eventually made his way to Broadway, and in 1964 received a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical for 110 in the Shade.

He was married to the actress Herta Ware, best known for her poignant performance as the wife of Jack Gilford in the original movie, (Cocoon). Geer and Ware had 3 children, including actress Ellen Geer. Although they eventually divorced they remained close. Ware also had a daughter, actress Melora Marshall, by another marriage.

Geer had an early romantic relationship with late noted gay activist Harry Hay.

Geer was also a social activist, touring government work camps in the 1930s with folk singers like Burl Ives and Woody Guthrie. In the 1950s he was blacklisted for refusing to testify before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. During that period, he built the Will Geer Theatricum Botanicum in Topanga Canyon, California, which he and Herta Ware helped to found. He combined his acting and botanical careers at the Theatricum, by making sure that every plant mentioned in Shakespeare was grown there.

As Will Geer was dying on April 22, 1978, of a respiratory ailment at the age of 76, his family sang Guthrie's This Land is Your Land on his deathbed, and recited poems by Robert Frost. Geer was cremated, and his ashes buried at the Theatricum Botanicum in the Shakespeare Garden.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2006.

Will Geer Facts

Birth NameWilliam Auge Ghere
BirthdayMarch 9, 1902
BirthplaceFrankfort, Indiana, USA
Date of deathApril 22, 1978 (age 76)
Height6' 2" (1m88)  How tall is Will Geer compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Jeremiah Johnson
Waltons, The: Seasons 1-9 & The Movie Collection
Salt of the Earth-1
Advise and Consent
Winchester '73
Broken Arrow '50
Waltons: Season 3
Waltons: Season 2
Waltons: Season 4
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