John Lithgow, star of stage
, is one heck of a cool guy
. Or at least he seems like it from here, down at my vantage point
amongst the rest of us mere mortals
He started out in show business early. Like real early. Pretty much only the Olsen Twins beat him.
John was born on October 19, 1945, in Rochester, New York, in the good old U S of A. His mother was a retired actress, and his father was at one time the head of Princeton University's McCarter Theater, before moving the family out to Ohio to produce some Shakespeare festivals. Young Johnny Boy got his acting start at the age of six, in a production of Henry VI.
Naturally, his parents encouraged his artistic inclinations. Early on he was a painter, becoming involved with New York's Art Student's League. Eventually he got back to acting, and attended this small school in Massachusetts. Once he got his BA in History and Literature, Magna Cum Laude from Harvard, he won the Fulbright scholarship which allowed him to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. It seems that he inherited his father's love of The Bard, since while there he worked at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and also the Royal Court Theatre.
Returning to the States in the early 70's, Young Mr. Lithgow hit Broadway. He got a good start, winning a Tony award, as well as a Drama Desk Award, for his role in the 1973 Production of The Changing Room.
He stayed on Broadway for quite a while, gaining a reputation as one of its brightest stars, appearing in at least one play per year all the way up till 1982. During that time, he recieved two additional Tony nominations, for Requiem for a Heavyweight and M. Butterfly.
Throughout the late 70's, John appeared in a number of motion pictures, playing mostly small key roles.It wasn't until 1982 when his film career really took off. This was the year he gave an Academy Award nominated role in The World According to Garp.
The next year, he gave what he calls his hardest role, in the Twilight Zone movie, which was difficult since he had to be afraid of a monster that he couldn't actually see. He also gave another Oscar Nominated performance that year, alongside Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson in Terms of Endearment. He also bagged his first Emmy nomination, for the nuclear apocalypse drama The Day After.
Throughout the 80's and 90's he continued to appear in a bunch of cool and not so cool movies and such. Some of the more notable ones include Footloose, Harry and the Hendersons, Ricochet, and The Pelican Brief.
He also won an Emmy in 1987, for his role in an episode of Amazing Stories. He gained another nomination that year for The Resting Place, and a Cable Ace nomination for the HBO film Traveling Man.
In 1990 he also made some video tapes of himself performing kid's songs on the guitar and banjo. Hell, is there anything this man can't do? I mean, seriously, throughout his career this man has played almost every role you can think of, from bumbling fool, to villain. He rocks.
Speaking of bumbling fools... in 1996 he came across the gig that most of you will know him from, Commander Dick Solomon on NBC's hit show 3rd Rock From the Sun.
In it he plays the Commander of an Alien Expedition sent to earth, disguised as a human family, in order to study our culture and such.
The show was an instant hit, despite the efforts of the network as Lithgow sees it. He's a bit annoyed with the way they kept on playing around with the time slot and such.
And really, I'm personally of the opinion that it was Lithgow's over the top antics that made the show a success. It's hard to describe, you'll know what I'm talking about if you've seen it, and if not you should.
The people behind the Emmy Awards seem to have recognized this as well, since he received a nomination for Outstanding Leader Actor in a Comedy Series EVERY SINGLE YEAR the show was in production, winning the award in 1996, 1997, and 1999. He also got a Golden Globe in 1997, and nominations the two following years.
The show ended its run in 2001, and is still on on a nightly basis in syndication, at least on the channels that I get. YMMV.
In 2001 he also had his COOLEST ROLE EVER, playing the pompus arrogant Lord Farquaad in the animated flick Shrek. This movie rocks. Go see it. Now.
He's been keeping up with the movie roles, appearing in Orange County, and with plans in the works to do his voice actin' thing for the Shrek Sequel.
He's been married twice, first to a Miss Jean Taynton, who he married in 1966, after presumably meeting her in London. They had a son Ian, and then divorced in 1980. Ian has since followed in his father's footsteps a bit, appearing in a number of 3rd Rock episodes, and attending Harvard.
And then there's his 2nd wife Mary, with whom he had a daughter Phoebe in 1982. It looks like Mary also had a son, Nathan, from a previous marriage or something along those lines. Mary is currently an economics professor at UCLA, and it doesn't look like that's going to change anytime soon, since she's got tenure. Sweet.
So yeah, this guy rocks. There's not many roles that he wouldn't be able to do, and do well. I'd love to meet him someday... maybe I could date his daughter, that would work.
Notable Broadway Appearances:
fb10101 says Btw, I called dibs on his daughter...