WWII pilot Leigh Wharton, 93


Leigh Wharton, an actor both on and off Broadway, died Nov. 7, 2017 in Riverdale. He was 93.

He was born Oct. 1, 1924, in West Derby Bootie, Lancashire, England. He joined the Royal Air Force during World War II, flying combat missions over Germany, France and The Netherlands. He was shot down flying a spitfire in the English Channel in May 1944 off the coast of France. He was shot down again over northwest Germany, crashing on a beach in January 1945, spending four days making his way to Denmark before being rescued.

After graduating from London University with a First Class Honors degree in economics, he moved to Montreal in 1953, where he ran the first vegetarian health food restaurant, “The Salad Man.”

He moved to New York in 1955, and studied acting with Lee Strasberg at The Actor’s Studio, appearing in or starring in featured roles in four Broadway productions, nine Off-Broadway productions, and 14 major television productions. He appeared opposite Ingrid Bergman, George C. Scott, Melvyn Douglas and others.

He became a U.S. citizen in 1965.

He also was an actor and director of more than 33 documentaries. One of them, “Edge of Survival,” won the World Hunger Media Award in open international competition, was a top finalist in the American Film Festival, and aired four times on PBS in 1979.

One of the people interviewed in that documentary was Mother Teresa, who would win the Nobel Peace Prize that year.

He is survived by his beloved partner, Nancy Hano.

Leigh Wharton,