Born William Wheeler Robinson on Oct. 4, 1918, he was the only child of Henry and Clare Wheeler Robinson. His half-sister, Helena Robinson Carter, predeceased him. He began at The Pingry School, Elizabeth, N.J., in first grade and graduated in 1935. He lettered in track and football and was sports editor of the school newspaper. He won the 1902 Emblem, the school's highest annual award. At Princeton University, he played freshman football and lacrosse, managed the student travel agency and wrote for Theater Intime, which produced his original play From Another Country. He majored in English and graduated in 1939. At the outbreak of World War II, he was commissioned skipper of a 110-foot wooden Navy sub chaser. His ship, SC 743, convoyed troop ships and freighters across the Pacific and participated in the Arawe, New Britain, and Hollandia invasions. For SC 743's performance under air attack Lt. (jg) Robinson received the Bronze Star with gold star.