From page to screen; Actress and Screenwriter Delores Wheeler Recalls Cleburne’s Debut | Life


Oklahoma resident Delores Wheeler remembers when she was growing up in Cleburne and recruiting neighborhood kids for her plays.

“It was right there, on the porch of my grandmother’s house, that we played all the plays that we played,” Wheeler said. “Oh, we had so much fun. We put a sheet in front, it was on the side of the house. And I wrote and performed in all the pieces. It was just kids playing. And we asked our parents to come and see them. We were trying to make money, I guess.

Wheeler said she had no idea at the time that she would continue to star in movies or screenplays and books. The 1969 Cleburne High School graduate also had no idea she would later write for the Time-Review, although she had made an appearance in the newspaper several years before.

“I saw the Cleburne Gossip Facebook page, I think it’s called,” Wheeler said. “Well, my mom was the gossip queen and loved to play bridge at the Baptist parsonage across the street because they all came in and chatted about what was really going on in town at the time.

“One day while this was going on, the other kids and I were pretending to have a snack. So she saw us and called the Times-Review and amazingly they came and took our picture and wrote about it. I don’t remember but I think it was in the company page. We were probably in second grade, so around 1957. I then went to Coleman Elementary School.

Wheeler also recalled her grandmother’s home on Prairie Avenue, now listed on the Historical Register, and the times she spent there as a child.

“My grandmother had a beautiful garden,” Wheeler said. “She had all kinds of flowers you can imagine and it was very peaceful there. I have very deep roots in Cleburne. Generations have lived there. I learned to read while sitting on this porch. My mom taught me to read while sitting on the porch swing and I just loved it. So it became my interest in reading and writing and it started from there.

Weekly trips to the Esquire Theater fueled his love of cinema.

“Is he still there?” Wheeler asked, disappointed to learn that he was demolished.

Wheeler’s love for the theater also came early.

“I performed in church plays a lot,” Wheeler said. “It was called Main Street Methodist, a beautiful old church that they demolished and moved. We’ve done a lot of, I guess you’d call them church musicals.

Wheeler credits a teacher for supporting her writing.

“In elementary school, I don’t remember the grade, I think it was fifth,” Wheeler said. “My teacher thought I was a good writer and asked me if I would write an article for The Times-Review. Well, I loved writing and writing, I believe it was called good citizens in the classroom. I had a copy of the article so I was writing for the Time-Review a long time ago. My last name then was Miller.

Such activities were put on hold as Wheeler earned his arts and education degrees from East Texas State University, now Texas A&M Commerce, and his graduate degree in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado. .

“But in college, I was still trying to do a lot of things,” Wheeler said. “They would ask me to paint backdrops for some school plays and other things, so I would go back to what I loved to do as a kid. I was in the process of refocusing.

Wheeler went on to write three books: “The Biker and the Beauty Queen”, “Eighty Sixed” and “The Smartest Man I’ve Ever Known”, all available on Amazon.

The books do not necessarily follow naturally from Wheeler’s earlier writings.

“I really didn’t want to be a writer per se,” Wheeler said. “I would fall into it from time to time. I saw where a magazine was looking for articles so I started writing for magazines just for fun. Sometimes I would get paid, sometimes not. But it always surprised me when they actually published things that I had written. I just wrote about the experiences I have had for the most part.

Books functioned more as a back door to acting gigs.

“I didn’t have an acting job, so I decided to write my own screenplays,” Wheeler said. “And I have several of which I have the copyright. So I wrote scripts but everyone said, “No, we want them based on a book.

So I wrote books. They are very short books, like novels like, for example, “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” is a novel that has become a very popular film. But I would write them down so I could say, “Yes, this is my screenplay, which is based on a book. “

A mixture of the real and the made-up fills the books.

“They’re based on a lot of different characters that I’ve met because they like things based on real experiences, but the legality is that you can be sued if the real people don’t sign and give permission.” , said Wheeler. “Finding all these people and getting permission would have been a legal chore. So I eliminated all of that because they aren’t really based on one person but rather on a lot of different people that I have met and experiences that I have had.

Wheeler, from 1992 to the present day, has appeared in numerous productions, from television shows to short films to feature films. Mainly smaller roles in movies ranging from the more mainstream sounding “Someone Special” and “A Country Romance” to more B movies such as “No Burgers For Bigfoot” and “Wrath of the Volcano Goddess”.

His roles include three as of 2020.

“It’s funny because we had to go get tested and be social distanced and wear masks when we were sitting in the green room waiting to come out and do our part,” Wheeler said. “They followed all the rules and regulations, but I was surprised to have something in the last year.”

Wheeler moved from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City for several years because she wanted to be closer to her grandchildren while still being able to work. Oklahoma, Wheeler said, is about the fifth in the country to attract movie industry activity and is more successful than Texas. The competitive rebate program offered by the Oklahoma Film Commission helps in this regard.

Wheeler serves on the regional board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists in Dallas, representing the state of Oklahoma, and is also a member of the Area Education Agency.

Many of his family remain in Texas despite being scattered, Wheeler said, adding that many of them had attended the University of Texas at Austin.

“That I’m in Oklahoma, they don’t like it to be UT graduates,” Wheeler joked. “But I remind them that they started winning here when they started recruiting most of the boys from Texas. They don’t like to hear it, but it’s true.

Whether she stays in Oklahoma or returns to California or Texas depends on a number of factors, including the unpredictability of COVID-19.

“I’m just hoping to sell more books, spark some interest in my scripts, and do more cinematic work,” Wheeler said.

Wheeler replied “Harvey” when asked about her favorite movie because she loves Jimmy Stewart and the twist at the end and the Bible when asked to name her favorite book.

“My parents were devoutly religious and my dad loved westerns,” Wheeler said. “So we watched a lot of ‘Gunsmoke,’ which almost set the longest-running TV series record.

“A lot of these stories were based on Bible stories if you looked at them. I never got tired of watching these shows because they were so well done. They were wellness television series. We need more of this today.

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