John Raymond Freimann
10 Nov 1926 - 03 Jan 2018
Actor, director, mentor, friend and beloved former drama professor at Whitman College John R. "Jack" Freimann died January 3, 2018 in Huntington Beach, California. He was 91. A member of Whitman's Harper Joy Theatre faculty for more than 30 years, he retired to New York City in 1992 to resume his professional acting career. The namesake for Harper Joy's Freimann Studio Theatre, he also founded the facility's famed poster collection, to which he contributed long after leaving Walla Walla.
Born and raised in Selah, Washington, Jack majored in theatre at New York University, earning a B.S., then an MFA from Fordham University in 1956. He also studied at American Conservatory Theatre, HB Studios (Herbert Berghof), Corner Loft (Jose Ferrer), and the British Drama League, among other renowned institutions. In addition to stage productions, Freimann appeared in a range of feature films, television series, late night comedy shows and commercials. He also directed, acted in and did scenic design for more than a dozen summer and winter stock programs across the country, and was an audience favorite for 14 seasons at The St. Louis Municipal Opera Theatre in Missouri, the nation's oldest and largest outdoor musical theatre.
A longtime member of the Actors' Equity Association, Screen Actors Guild and United Scenic Artists, he volunteered for industry organizations and charities such as Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, The Actors Fund, Theatre Development Fund and New York City Ballet.
In the last decades of his life, Freimann returned to Whitman to share his passion and expertise with new generations of students. He spoke at Whitman's Commencement in 2001 and received an honorary degree. In an interview commemorating the 50th anniversary of Harper Joy Theatre in 2008, he recalled grueling rehearsal schedules and remarked, "I worked all the time ... and didn't resent it." While at Whitman, Freimann assembled a collection of musical theatre recordings for the college's music listening library and donated hundreds of playbills, books and memorabilia items to Penrose Library. In 2010, he attended the Jack Freimann Poster Collection Exhibition in the Fouts Center for Visual Arts.
In 2016, Whitman hosted a celebration of Freimann's 90th birthday in New York. Soon after, he moved to Huntington Beach, California, where he could be near his niece Shaun Meagher and her husband, John. At his request, no formal memorial service will be held. Gifts may be made in his honor to the John R. Freimann Visiting Artist in Drama Endowment at Whitman College.
- Broadway World website, Jan 8, 2018