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After becoming an orphan as a baby - his mother died at the age of 17 - he was raised by his father and aunt, and later a step-mother, he went to New York, where he tried to break into showbiz.
He got his first break with Gus Edwards, working later as actor in several shows, among them "The Gingerbread Man" and "When Dreams Come True". During this show he met his first wife, Margaret Grae, with whom he formed up a successful vaudeville team. Although being asked several times to make movies (among them a request by Harold Lloyd), he stayed with vaudeville. In 1926 they divorced and his wife soon married another actor.
In 1927 he was signed by Florenz Ziegfeld for his show "Rio Rita", where he was teamed with Robert Woolsey. They clicked and formed a comedy team that lasted until 1938 when Woolsey died. When Ziegfeld sold the screen rights of Rio Rita to the newly formed RKO studio as their official debut, they were the only actors in the cast who repeated their stage roles. Further more, a young actress named Dorothy Lee joined the team.
During the 30s, while they made many comedies in Hollywood, Wheeler married and was divorced twice. After Woolsey`s death, he continued as single, mostly on the stage, but sometimes also on the screen. His last years were darkened with financial difficulties and failing health. Furthermore, two weeks before his own death on January 18, 1968 his daughter died of cancer.
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