William Hurley Traylor, Jr. (October 8, 1930 – September 23, 1989) was an American television, theater, and motion picture actor. He was also, along with his wife, Peggy Feury, an acting coach and founder of The Loft Studio, an acting school attended by such major stars as Sean Penn, Anjelica Huston and Nicolas Cage. He is the father of actresses Stephanie Feury and Susan Traylor.
He was born William Hurley Traylor, Jr. in Kirksville, Missouri, to parents Edna Mae (Singleton) and William Hurley Traylor, Sr. Kirksville had a population of 8,293 at the time. A fellow member of the Actors Studio, Geraldine Page, was also born in Kirksville. Traylor and his two siblings, sisters Patricia (Traylor) Weber and Lucille (Traylor) Jorgenson, were raised in the Brashear, Missouri area, where William Sr. operated an oil business and service station. Brashear is a small farm town with the Hog Branch stream running through one corner of it. When Traylor lived there, it had a population of only about 438 people, though it has shrunk considerable since then.
In his twenties, William Traylor arrived in New York City, where he studied acting, and soon became a member of the Actors Studio. The Actors Studio was founded in 1947 by Elia Kazan, Cheryl Crawford, Robert Lewis and Anna Sokolow, to provide training for actors. Lee Strasberg joined later and became its director in 1951. The Actors Studio is known for teaching method acting, as it evolved out of the Group Theatre in the 1930s and the ideas of Constantin Stanislavski.
As a member of the Actors Studio in New York, Traylor, along with others, participated in a program to record and archive work that was being done there, including performances of scenes from dramatic literature. Traylor participated in these recordings from 1961 to 1968. These recordings have been archived as part of the University of Wisconsin Digital Collections.
As an actor in New York, Traylor began appearing in roles in television dramas during what has become known as the Golden Age of television. He appeared in Screen Directors Playhouse, Highway Patrol, I Led 3 Lives, The Alcoa Hour, Goodyear Playhouse, Flipper, Father Knows Best, Naked City, and others.
He also performed on stage in theatres on Broadway as well as off Broadway, and in theatres in the region. His debut on Broadway was a remarkable opportunity: Two comedies written by and starring theatre legend, Noël Coward. The plays were produced together, but on different nights in repertory: Nude With Violin, and Present Laughter.
As described in biographies of Coward, this experience was unfortunately marred by a backstage contretemps, in which Traylor had to fend off the ferociously insistent lustful predations of the author and leading-man. This, as described, caused extreme anxiety to Traylor.
In 2013, British playwright, James Martin Charlton, used this painful episode as the basis for a fictionalized theatrical dramatization, entitled Coward. According to the press and the reviews of the production, the names of the characters, and the setting, and the period were all changed in the manner of a roman à clef, and none of the fictional characters were portrayed in an especially positive light by the playwright.
Traylor survived and got some positive personal notices for his Broadway debut. He then went on to appear on Broadway in The Glass Menagerie, Showboat, and Of Love Remembered, which was directed by Burgess Meredith.
He met and married a fellow Actors Studio member, the actress Peggy Feury. Eventually, professional opportunities drew Traylor to Los Angeles. His family, which now included two young children, Stephanie and Susan, left New York to join him in Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, he appeared in television dramas and series, including Adam-12, Bracken's World, The F.B.I., McMillan & Wife, Mannix, Kung Fu and The Execution of Private Slovik.
His film work includes Cisco Pike (1972), The Towering Inferno (1974), Smile (1975), S*H*E (1980), The Long Riders (1980), The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), Fletch (1985), and others.
|1955||The Last Frontier||Soldier||Uncredited|
|1961||One Plus One||Hollister||("Honeymoon' segment)|
|1964||Diary of a Bachelor||The Bachelor|
|1968||Windflowers||FBI Agent #1|
|1968||The Boston Strangler||Arnie Carr|
|1970||Colossus: The Forbin Project||Party Guest||Uncredited|
|1972||The Legend of Hillbilly John||Reverend Millen|
|1974||The Towering Inferno||Security Guard in Control Room||Uncredited|
|1980||The Long Riders||Pinkerton|
|1981||The Postman Always Rings Twice||Sackett|
|1983||The Man with Two Brains||Inspector|
|1984||The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension||General Catburd|
|1989||Dead Bang||Elton Tremmel||(final film role)|
He and his wife, Peggy Feury, together founded the Loft Studio to teach acting. The Loft Studio became a greatly admired acting studio, where Traylor and Feury brought the precepts of Stanislavski, and lessons from their own experiences at the Actors Studio, and the Neighborhood Playhouse in New York. They taught a remarkable roster of actors, including Sean Penn, Johnny Depp, Ellen Burstyn, Jeff Goldblum, Lily Tomlin, Joanna Kerns, Annette O'Toole, John Mayall, Anjelica Huston, Meg Tilly, Nicolas Cage, Michelle Pfeiffer and Callie Khouri — who wrote the film Thelma and Louise.