William (Bill) Whitehead
|Born||William Frederick Whitehead|
August 16, 1931
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
|Died||February 1, 2018 (aged 86)|
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Occupation||Radio and television documentary writer, memoirist, filmmaker, actor|
|Notable works||Dieppe 1942, The National Dream: Building the Impossible Railway, Words to Live By|
|Partners||Timothy Findley, Trevor Green|
William Frederick (Bill) Whitehead (August 16, 1931 – February 1, 2018) was a Canadian writer, actor and filmmaker. Whitehead is best known as a writer of radio and television documentaries and as the former partner of the late Canadian writer Timothy Findley.
Whitehead was born in Hamilton, Ontario, to Marjorie and Berkeley Kyle Whitehead. His parents had moved there from Saskatchewan, and the family moved back to Regina when Whitehead was a child. His parents subsequently divorced due to his father's epilepsy-related inability to maintain stable employment; Whitehead did not see his father again until his late teens.
His initial career goal was to become an entomologist — by age 12 he was already a member of the Saskatchewan Natural History Society — but he also had a passion for theatre. He studied biology and theatre arts at the University of Saskatchewan, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953 and a Master of Arts degree in 1955, but decided against pursuing work as a biologist because he found it depended too strongly on having to kill animals.
He moved to Ontario in 1957 to become an actor, having several small roles with the Stratford Festival while serving as a propmaster and stage manager. He met Findley, at the time also a Stratford Festival actor, in 1962, with their lifelong relationship beginning when Findley appeared in a CBC Television production of Jules Feiffer's play Crawling Arnold and Whitehead invited him over to watch it because Findley didn't own a television set.
When Findley left the theatre to concentrate on writing fiction, Whitehead simultaneously took a job writing science documentaries for the CBC Radio documentary series The Learning Stage. He remained an award-winning writer of radio and television documentaries, including over 100 episodes of the CBC Television series The Nature of Things and many episodes of the CBC Radio series Ideas.
He also co-wrote several works with Findley, including the television documentaries Dieppe 1942 and The National Dream: Building the Impossible Railway.
Following Findley's death in 2002, Whitehead compiled and edited the posthumous collection Journeyman: Travels of a Writer. In March 2004, approximately two years after Findley's death, Whitehead donated a collection of Findley's theatre memorabilia to the University of Guelph. He subsequently began a new relationship, with Trevor Green.
- The Next Chapter, April 8, 2013.
- "Canadian writer William (Bill) Whitehead has died at age 86". Toronto Star, February 2, 2018.
- Stoffman, Judy (February 23, 2018). "William Whitehead, 86, was a great CBC documentary writer who lived a life of devotion". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved February 24, 2018.
- "Timothy Findley's theatre collection donated to U of G". University of Guelph Campus News. 2004-03-03. Archived from the original on 2007-10-30. Retrieved 2007-06-14.
- "The Word on the Street interview series: William Whitehead". Open Book Toronto, September 7, 2012.
- "The authors on the shortlist for the Stephen Leacock Medal are no April Fools". CBC Books, April 2, 2013.
- "Writers’ Trust Presents LGBT Literary Award to Author and Screenwriter, Tamai Kobayashi". Writers' Trust of Canada, June 23, 2014.