WILLIAM C. WHALEN a resident of Westport, CT., died Friday, April 25th after a long illness. He was 85. He had enjoyed a long career which began in the pioneering days of early television and spanned the most exciting years of live television including coverage of the US space program; the political turmoil of the 60's and great live TV drama. Born in Springfield, MA to Thomas and Hazel Card Whalen, he was educated in Springfield schools, graduating from Classical High. A veteran of World War II in the US Naval Air Corps, he saw service in the Marshall Islands, South Pacific Theatre. Following the war he attended NYU, The American Theater Wing and the Arts Students League of New York. Mr. Whalen began his career as an actor and singer, appearing on the concert stage and musical comedy. He pioneered and starred in one of the earliest and most popular New England children's TV shows, Out West With Bill, from Ch. 55, Holyoke, MA. He then joined NBC-TV, New York in 1957, beginning a 32 year career with NBC where he became an Associate Director and Director with the News and Special Events Division. He received three "Emmys" from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in 1969 for his participation in "Apollo; A Journey to the Moon"; again in 1979 for "Interrogation in Budapest" and in 1980 for "Pope John Paul in Poland". In the early days of the US Space Program he was a member of the NBC Space Unit and covered every space flight from Gemini 11 to Soyuz. During the political turmoil of the mid-60's Mr. Whalen covered the Chicago Democratic Convention, every political primary of those years including coverage of the assassination of Robert Kennedy. He also participated in many NBC productions including the first TV dramatization of As You Like It; the Huntley Brinkley Report, and the Johnny Carson Show. Upon his retirement he took an avid interest in sculpting and one of his pieces "The Bocce Game" is in the permanent collection of the Ogunquit Museum of American Art, Ogunquit, ME. Mr. Whalen is survived by his wife of 57 years, Mary (Hoctor) Whalen, a son, William A. Whalen of Fairfield, CT., a daughter, Cynthia W. Keating of Greenwich, CT., a brother, Dr. Thomas Whalen of Montgomery, MA., three sisters, Ellen Rydell, of E. Longmeadow, MA., Ruth Herter of Wilbraham, MA., and Annette Dourte, of Austin, Texas; a granddaughter, Cameron Barker of WY., three grandsons, Stephen C. Barker of Greenwich, CT., William J. Whalen and Thomas A. Whalen of Fairfield, CT. and many nieces and nephews. A private memorial for family and friends will be held in the near future. In lieu of flowers the family requests that memorial contributions be made to Connecticut Hospice Inc. 100 Double Beach Road, Branford, CT 06405. The Harding Funeral Home, 210 Post Rd. E., Westport is assisting the family with the arrangements.
Published in StamfordAdvocate on Apr. 29, 2008