The Dallas Morning News

Actor in ‘Free Willy’ movies

- By JOE SIMNACHER Staff Writer

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.

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