Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Donald Woods aka Ralph Zink, BHS 1925, Actor

A prolific actor with a 40-year career that included appearances in 98 plays, 150 television shows and 75 films, Donald Woods referred to himself as the "King of the Bs". He started out as a radio and stage actor. He was a pleasant, boyish leading man of the 1930s who later moved into mature character roles. Played Perry Mason in one of a series of Warner Brothers B pictures.

Born in Canada as Ralph L. Zink and raised in Burbank where he graduated from Burbank High School in 1925. At Burbank High he was a debater, athlete, Ceralbus Editor. The 1937 Burbank High Ceralbus theme was the “Spirit of Drama” and the Ceralbus was dedicated to Donald Woods. He wrote on the dedication page the following:

Prologue…Congratulations, Class of ’37, and thank you for the honor bestowed on me in this issue of the Ceralbus. Eleven years ago the writer left Burbank High School with a diploma tucked away in the bottom of a trunk. The diploma was carefully framed , but the notes were shoved away in storage. Eleven years later those notes, bound and classified, form an active part of my small library-but for the life of me I cannot find my diploma! How was I to know that five years later I would be making my living in the theater? That five years later my best friend would be a young doctor? That nine years later a complete analysis of the character of Charles Darnay would help me secure a part in a motion picture? My notes on Drama, Biology, and English were invaluable. Which all goes to prove, fellow students, that in my case a note or two in the hand was worth several diplomas on the wall!! Good Luck.” – Donald Woods, Editor of Ceralbus ‘25

He attended the University of California at Berkeley, and made his film debut in 1928. He legally changed his professional name in 1945 after having done many radio and stage productions and appearing in the features "Sweet Adeline" (1934) and "A Tale of Two Cities" (1935). Woods hosted two 1950s television series, "The Orchid Award" and "Hotel Cosmopolitan" and was a regular on the series "Tammy". Known primarily for his western and whodunit work, Woods also guest starred on "Wagon Train" (NBC) and "The Wild, Wild West" (CBS). His last movie was in 1969 True Grit, starring John Wayne.

Woods retired from acting in 1976 and become a successful real estate broker in Palm Springs, California, where he lived with his wife, childhood sweetheart Josephine Van der Horck. They were married from 1933 until his death on Thursday, March 05, 1998, in Palm Springs, California at the age of 91 of Cardiopulmonary Failure. They had two children, Linda and Conrad (Conrad became a tennis pro and modern painter). His grave is located at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California.

Donald Woods Personal Quote: “I try to do at least one play per year whatever else I’m doing – such as selling $300,000 worth of real estate in Palm Springs.”




To read more about Donald Woods and to see all his movies and televsion series he appeared in and to watch video clips to some of his movies , click here Imdb Data Base

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