McGHEE, WILLIAM "BILL" Pioneer actor, William "Bill" McGhee aka Bill McGee, 76, died of breast cancer February 17th at his home. Mr. Mc Ghee, born in Mexia, Texas (Limestone County), lived in Dallas his entire life. His love for the arts began at age 12 while tap dancing in the streets of Dallas. Those endeavors led to participating in local community theatre activities and landing leading roles at Lincoln H.S. In June 1947, McGhee held an elevator operator job at the popular Baker Hotel (downtown Dallas), where the infamous bombing occurred and was reported as "dead" in the media. Miraculously, he survived, in spite of the harsh segregation climate at Parkland Hospital and ambulatory services during that time. He suffered amnesia, but was fully restored to health. He resumed his quest for the theatre and his unique odyssey of life continued. He served his country as Army Corporal in the 31st Unit division in the Korean War, and performed for the troops at Camp Atterbury, Indiana. While serving in Yucca Flats, Nevada, he was the unfortunate victim of secret Atmospheric Radiation testing experiment conducted there. Upon an honorable discharge, he resumed acting. He performed for Black troupes, such as the Dallas Theater Center's Janus Players with actors such as Irma P. Hall and Ted Mitchell. In 1954, Bill broke racial barriers and was the first Black to make a professional debut on the Dallas stage performing roles both written for Blacks and roles without racial requirements. Now coined William "Bill" McGhee, he would perform for companies like, Round-up Theatre and Courtyard Theatre. The young thespian joined the production company at Theater Three, affording him several lead roles. His move to integrate the stage impacted the community and he was given many more opportunities in the theater circuit. His life as an actor was planted and Bill reaped the benefits by being one of the first union Black actors in Dallas with SAG (Screen Actors Guild) and AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists). He acted in over 35 theater productions and stage plays including but not limited to "My Hearts", "Anna Lucasta", "Shakespeare in Harlem", "Golden Boy", "In White America", "Mrs. McThing"', "The Victory", "A Sleep of Prisoners"; over 15 films including but not limited to "Free, White and 21", "Bullet for Pretty Boy", "Don't Look in the Basement", "Slick Silver", "Curse of the Swamp Creature", "Riverbend", "A Solo Song for Doc", "Help Stamp out Fairplay", "Trial of Lee Harvey Oswald", "High Yellow", "Book of Numbers", "On Valentine's Day", "1918", "Quadroon" and 10 commercials, during his film career. He was a loyal client of Peggy Taylor Talent Agency. While working as an actor, he was an entrepreneur in several businesses including the entertainment lounge, The Idle Hour, which served as the movie set in the 1973 film, Book of Numbers, starring Raymond St. Jacques; hosted private roasts and dinner parties for his industry friends like Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, Roscoe Lee Brown, Anthony Zerbe, Freda Payne and Z.Z. Hill; and owned and operated Sam's Record Shop #2, a retail store. He successfully served the community of North Texas, becoming the leading source for gospel and blues music for over 25 years, receiving many area awards for commendable service and plagues from the record industry moguls for his diligence in record sales. Bill was a phenomenal actor, gifted leader with an infectious personality. Bill is survived by his wife of 40 years, Ina B. Daniels Hurdle-McGee; two children-Derek and Dawn McGhee; four grandchildren-Delicia, Derek II, and Jessica McGhee and Cymphony Jackson; seven brothers and five sisters. Wake services will be held at Sandra Clark Funeral Home, Friday, February 23rd at 7:00 p.m. and Funeral services will be at 12:00 noon, Saturday, February 24th at Warren Avenue Christian Church. Burial will be in D/FW Veterans Memorial Park on Monday, February 26th. Sandra Clark Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. , Sandra Clark Funeral Home Family Owned/Operated 214-371-2600
OB6 Obituaries, Notices
Published in Dallas Morning News on Feb. 23, 2007.