R.I.P. David Schramm, airline owner Roy Biggins on 'Wings'
The Julliard graduate and prolific stage actor was 73.
Image: CBS Television Distribution
David Schramm was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. While taking acting classes at Western Kentucky University, his teacher, Dr. Mildred Howard, encouraged him to apply to the newly created drama department at Julliard. At first, he refused.
In an interview with NJ.com, Schramm told the story of how he got in. "She told me, 'You are going to go to school in New York' — to which I said in my Southern twang, 'Doctor, they ain't gonna take me in no school in New York.' She worked on two audition pieces with me, arranged for the flight, packed a lunch and said, 'Go!' I did and got accepted on the spot."
After Julliard, Schramm joined The Acting Company, now one of the foremost theatrical repertory groups in the country. Started in 1972, his fellow company members included Patti LuPone, Kevin Kline and David Ogden Stiers (M*A*S*H).
Schramm debuted on Broadway in Three Sisters in 1973. He continued to act on stage through the 1970s. In 1983, he played Robert McNamara in the TV mini-series Kennedy. Seven years later, he won his most well-known role on the show Wings.
Right from the beginning, he knew Wings was special. He recalled in that 2008 interview: "I knew when we started it was going to be a success. Not just because the writers had been involved with Cheers, Taxi and Mary Tyler Moore. But when we sat around the table reading the first script, and I saw this buffoon they created for me, this pompous guy who said garish things to women, and all the other rich characters, I turned to Rebecca [Schull, who played Fay Cochran] and said, 'I think we've landed in a tub of butter.'"
Schramm played airline owner Roy Biggins in all 172 episodes of the shows eight-season run. He was the rival to the main characters Joe and Brian Hackett (played by Tim Daly and Steven Weber, respectively). His Aeromass airline was the local Nantucket competitor to Sandpiper.
David Schramm passed away in New York at the age of 73.