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Donald Yearnsley "Trey" Wilson III (January 21, 1948 – January 16, 1989) was an American character actor known for playing rural, authoritarian type characters, most notably in comedies such as Raising Arizona and Bull Durham.[1][2][3]

Trey Wilson
Donald Yearnsley Wilson III

(1948-01-21)January 21, 1948
Houston, Texas, U.S.
DiedJanuary 16, 1989(1989-01-16) (aged 40)
Resting placeForest Park Cemetery, Houston, Texas
Alma materUniversity of Houston
Years active1976–1989
Spouse(s)Cynthia June Brinson (1969–1974) (divorced)
Judy Blye Wilson (1975–1989) (his death)


During his career, Wilson appeared in numerous stage productions and 30 films or television shows, including guest roles on Spenser: For Hire and The Equalizer. On stage, he appeared in The Front Page at Lincoln Center and on Broadway, he appeared with Sandy Duncan in Peter Pan. He also appeared in Pat Benatar's music video "Love Is a Battlefield", as the father who throws her out of the house.

His most memorable roles were in two films, Raising Arizona, as unpainted furniture store owner Nathan Arizona, and Bull Durham, as Joe Riggins, manager of the Durham Bulls minor league baseball team.[2][1] The end credits of The Silence of the Lambs and Miss Firecracker dedicate the films to him.

Personal life and deathEdit

Born in Houston, Texas, to Donald Yearnsley Wilson and Irene Louise Wilson, he attended Bellaire High School in Bellaire and then majored in English and theater at the University of Houston.[1] It was there that Wilson met Judy Blye, a well-known New York soap opera casting agent, and they were married on August 25, 1975. He was a cousin of former Texas Republican State Senator Kim Brimer.[2]

Wilson died at age forty from a cerebral hemorrhage in New York City on January 16, 1989,[3][4] and was buried at Forest Park Cemetery in Houston five days later, on what would have been his 41st birthday.[2]

Released after his death, Wilson's final film was Great Balls of Fire!, the biopic of Jerry Lee Lewis, where he played American record producer Sam Phillips.[1][4] He had been cast in the Coen brothers' film Miller's Crossing at the time of his death,[3] and was replaced by Albert Finney.[2]


Year Title Role Notes
1976 Drive-In Gifford
1977 Three Warriors Chuck
1978 Vampire Hookers Terry Wayne
1978 The Lord of the Rings Voice
1979 Three-Way Weekend Howard Creep
1984 Places in the Heart Texas Voice #3 Voice
1984 A Soldier's Story Colonel Nivens
1985 The Protector Truck Driver
1985 Marie FBI Agent
1986 F/X Lt. Murdoch
1987 Raising Arizona Nathan Arizona, Sr.
1987 The House on Carroll Street Lieutenant Sloan
1988 Bull Durham Skip
1988 Married to the Mob Regional Director Franklin
1988 Twins Beetroot McKinley
1989 Miss Firecracker Benjamin Drapper
1989 Great Balls of Fire! Sam Phillips
1989 Welcome Home Colonel Barnes


  1. ^ a b c d "Trey Wilson, 40, dies; a stage and film actor". New York Times. (obituary). January 17, 1989. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e Dansby, Andrew (January 21, 2007). "Houston's Trey Wilson: Best actor you've never heard of". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved April 30, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c "Actor Trey Wilson, 40". Bangor Daily News. Maine. Associated Press. January 18, 1989. p. 4.
  4. ^ a b "Deaths elsewhere". Milwaukee Journal. January 18, 1989. p. 2A.

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