He started out as a theatre actor, and became a standard as a character actor in a variety of 1950s TV shows. He loved continuous movie work in the 1960s and 1970s. While attaining great success as a film actor, he never left his love for the stage. He expired on April 3, 1996, following a six-year battle with lymphoma.
Youthful Weston was a mischief maker and class clown in school, and appeared destined for trouble until a particularly insightful primary school teacher indicated to his dad that Weston’s penchant for humor and craving for attention may be well suited for the stage. Willing to use anything, Weston’s father, a shoemaker, registered his 10-year old son in acting classes in the Cleveland Play House the storied performers’ breeding ground that also nurtured the ability of a young Paul Newman. As Weston’s teacher had called, the playing courses let the mischievous child to expend his significant comedic energy in a creative and productive manner. Weston continued on to Glenville High School, where he played the leading part in several school plays before dropping out in the age of 15 to pursue his dreams to become a professional performer.
After dropping out of school, Weston returned to the Cleveland Play House and played in its kids’ theatre for four years until, in 1943, the 19-year old was drafted to the United States Army for service in the Second World War. Those visions proved difficult to keep up, as the youthful performer’s first years in The Big Apple in the late 1940s were full of challenge and adversity. “I keep recalling the times in The Big Apple after the war,” Weston said afterwards. “I believed if somebody would give me $80 a week for life and only I would like to act, that is all I ask.”
In try to improve his fortunes, Weston joined the American Theatre Wing, where he studied alongside future stars including Lee Marvin and Jack Klugman. However, Weston could just find paid work as the theatre wing’s elevator operator (a job he received because he was the primary applicant to fit in the operator’s suit). Subsequently, in 1950, he eventually made his Broadway debut as Stewpot in the long-running musical South Pacific.
Weston married celebrity Marge Redman in 1950. They were costarring in a 1958 Broadway production of Bells are Ringing when they determined, more or less on a whim, to stop the production, hop inside their classic Volkswagen and drive out to La. They intended to stay just several months, but their car broke down soon as soon as they arrived in L.A. and they wound up staying for 18 years. During his time on the West Coast in the 1960s and 1970s, Weston loved continuous picture work. He played in Mirage (1965), the first Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and Wait Until Dark (1967), where he turned in among his most acclaimed performances opposite Audrey Hepburn. Weston subsequently starred opposite Burt Reynolds in some of 1970s comedies, Fuzz (1972) and Gator (1976).
Another of his most acclaimed comic performances came in the 1975 movie The Ritz. Although he enjoyed great success in town, Weston consistently kept that he despised Los Angeles. “Every day at 3:00, something reaches this town,” he once said. “It is called flash indifference. In the event you are an actor rather than working and you do not play tennis or golf, you can go stark, raving mad. I understand. While attaining great success as a film actor, Weston never gave up his love for the stage. Next performance, he played just sporadically in movies including The Four Seasons (1981) and Dirty Dancing (1987). Jack Weston expired on April 3, 1996, following a six-year battle with lymphoma. He’s survived by his second wife, Laurie Gilkes, and his stepdaughter, Amy.