Danville has been blessed with many talented personalities. I like that local establishments proudly display their pictures. That being said, I am puzzled as to why one local celebrity has been overlooked: James Wainwright (1938-1999). Certainly he qualifies for recognition, as have the others.
James was born and grew up in Danville; his father was a barber at the Hotel Wolford. The future actor graduated from Cannon Grade School and attended Danville High School. The Medley (yearbook) of 1954 shows James among those of the junior class. An on-line search reveals: James Wainwright is listed as one of the “Famous People from the Danville Area.” His name appears as No. 7, directly following the honorees O’Connor, Hackman, the Van Dykes, Short, and (Helen) Morgan.
Further research uncovers an impressive career. For example, James was a popular film star and TV performer known as “a general purpose actor.” He appeared in many popular shows, especially during the 1970s, as well as screen work with major actors of his generation.
James starred in two weekly TV series, “Jigsaw” and “Beyond Westworld.” He was twice nominated for an Emmy and some sources also say an Oscar.
A check of James’ filmography credits lists 64 titles in which he appeared, including costarring with the likes of Clint Eastwood in “Joe Kidd,” with George Kennedy in “Mean Dog Blues,” with Walter Matthau in “The Survivors,” et cetera.
Therefore, I’d like to bring the name “James Wainwright” to the public’s attention. Isn’t it time we acknowledge and honor Danville’s forgotten son?
Diana D. Schutz
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