The Dallas Morning News
Actor in ‘Free Willy’ movies
August Werner Schellenberg of Dallas had an acting career that spanned more than 45 years on stage, screen and television.
His roles included parts in the 1993 movie Free Willy and its two sequels, and the 2007 HBO production of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, which won him an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Sitting Bull. He appeared in television shows including Walker, Texas Ranger; Grey’s Anatomy; and Saving Grace.
Schellenberg, 77, died Thursday of lung cancer in hospice care at his Dallas home.
Services will be at 2 p.m. Monday at Sparkman/ Hillcrest Funeral Home in Dallas. He will be buried in Hillcrest Memorial Park.
“Being a storyteller is very much who he was,” said his son-inlaw, Adrian Churchill of Dallas.
Schellenberg was born in Montreal and was a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada, where he met his future wife, Joan Karasevich.
In 1967, he was honored with the Tyrone Guthrie Award as the most promising young actor at the Stratford Festival in Ontario, Canada, which his son-in-law said is North America’s largest theater festival.
Schellenberg’s first film role was in the Canadian pro- duction Rip-Off, in 1971.
“He did a lot of stage work at the early part of his career and then in his 40s he started doing a lot more film work,” his son-in-law said. “His first big film — with a great deal of international success — was Black Robe.”
Schellenberg came to Dallas in 1994 to play Billy Gray Wolf for two episodes of Walker.
“He liked it here in Texas so much that he decided that this is a great place, halfway between New York and LA,” Churchill said.
After moving to Dallas, his daughter Joanna Schellenberg-Churchill started performing with Shakespeare in the Park. Schellenberg later performed Shakespeare in Dallas, playing Enobarbus in Anthony and Cleopatra, his son-in-law said.
Schellenberg was of Mohawk and Swiss-German descent, his family said, and was proud to land several native roles. Last year, he played the lead in an all-aboriginal production of Shakespeare’s King Lear at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.
In 2011, he said the production was “a dream I’ve had for almost 40 years; to do an all-native King Lear to prove to the world that native actors can do Shakespeare.”
Schellenberg’s last movie role was in the 2012 Canadian film The Last Movie.
In addition to his wife and daughter, Schellenberg is survived by two other daughters, Sophia Schellenberg of Montreal and Reena Schellenberg-Martin of Dallas; and three grandchildren.