William Challee, a veteran stage and film actor who was one of the founders of the historic Group Theater in New York and was featured in such Clifford Odets plays as "Waiting for Lefty," "Golden Boy" and "Paradise Lost," died Saturday at the Motion Picture and Television Hospital in Woodland Hills.
His wife, Joan Ankrum, who with her husband founded the Ankrum Gallery on North La Cienega Boulevard in 1960, said Challee was 84 and died of the complications of Alzheimer's disease.
A veteran of little theaters in the East, he appeared with the Provincetown Playhouse and the Theater Guild before moving west to concentrate on films.
He appeared in nearly 50 films, beginning in the early 1940s. One of his last appearances was as Jack Nicholson's father in "Five Easy Pieces." His other picture credits include "Destination Tokyo," "Song to Remember," "Nocturne," "This Woman Is Dangerous," "The Glenn Miller Story," "Raintree County" and "None But the Lonely Heart."
On television, he was seen in the "Playhouse 90" productions of "The Day Lincoln Was Shot" and "Andersonville."