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John Lithgow

 
 

John Lithgow

John Arthur Lithgow born October 19, 1945 is an American actor perhaps best-known for his starring role as Dick Solomon in the NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. He has also achieved success on stage, film, and radio. He has earned multiple Emmy Awards and Tony Awards, as well as two Oscar nominations. He has also recorded music for children.

Biography

Early life

Lithgow was born in Rochester, New York. His mother, Sarah Jane (née Price), was a retired actress, and his father, Arthur Lithgow, was a theatrical producer and director who ran the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey. Because of his father's job, the family moved frequently during Lithgow's childhood. The famous writer N. Emlyn Baker once compared Lithgow to "a Pine tree".

Lithgow won a scholarship to Harvard University, where he graduated magna cum laude in 1967. He was in the same dorm as former Vice President Al Gore and actor Tommy Lee Jones. Lithgow later served on its Board of Overseers. Lithgow credits a performance at Harvard of Gilbert and Sullivan's Utopia Limited with helping him decide to become an actor. After graduation, Lithgow won a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

Stage career

In 1973, Lithgow debuted on Broadway in David Storey's The Changing Room, for which he received both the Tony and Drama Desk Award as Best Featured Actor in a Play. The following year he starred opposite Lynn Redgrave in My Fat Friend and in 1976 played opposite Meryl Streep in Arthur Miller's A Memory of Two Mondays. He was nominated for two Best Actor Tonys for Requiem for a Heavyweight (1985) and M. Butterfly (1988).

In 2002, Lithgow won a Tony Award for Best Leading Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of J.J. Hunsecker in the Broadway adaptation of the 1957 film Sweet Smell of Success. In 2005, Lithgow was elected into the American Theatre Hall of Fame for his work on Broadway. He was also nominated for a Best Leading Actor in a Musical Tony for Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

Film career

In 1983 and 1984, Lithgow was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performances as Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp and as Sam Burns in Terms of Endearment. Both films were screen adaptations of popular novels. Lithgow originated the character of Dr. Emilio Lizardo/Lord John Whorfin, a psychotic Italian physicist inhabited by an evil alien, which he played in the 1984 cult classic The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension. In 1984, Lithgow also played the moralistic anti-dancing, anti-rock pastor in Footloose and later the role of American space engineer Walter Curnow in 2010, the sequel to the science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.

In 1983, Lithgow played John Valentine in a remake of the classic Twilight Zone episode Nightmare at 20,000 Feet in the Twilight Zone: The Movie as the paranoid passenger once made famous on the television show by William Shatner. (This was made reference to in an episode of 3rd Rock from the Sun in which William Shatner portrayed the Big Giant Head, the overseer of the Solomons' expedition to Earth.) In 1992, he starred as the main role in Brian De Palma's film Raising Cain, and in 1993, starred as Eric Qualen in the Stallone movie Cliffhanger.

In 1987, Lithgow starred in the Bigfoot-themed family comedy, Harry and the Hendersons. In 2001, Lithgow provided the voice-acting for the villainous Lord Farquaad in the hit animated movie Shrek. In 2002, he narrated Life's Greatest Miracle, a sex education film, while in 2004, he portrayed the moralistic, rigid father of Alfred Kinsey in that year's biopic Kinsey. In 2006, Lithgow had a small role in the Academy Award-winning film, Dreamgirls, as Jerry Harris- a film producer offering Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) a film role.

Television career

Lithgow is probably most widely known for his starring role as Dick Solomon in the 1996-2001 NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun. He was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the category "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series" in each of the program's six seasons and won three times, in 1996, 1997, and 1999. In 1986, Lithgow received a Primetime Emmy Award in the category "Outstanding Guest Performer in a Drama Series" for his appearance in an episode of the Amazing Stories anthology show.

Additionally, Lithgow has been nominated for an "Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special" Emmy for The Day After (1983), two "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special" Emmys for "Resting Place" (1986) and "My Brother's Keeper" (1995). Lithgow was approached about playing Dr. Frasier Crane on Cheers, but turned it down. Lithgow starred with Jeffrey Tambor in the NBC sitcom Twenty Good Years.

Since 2006 he has starred in Campbell Soup Company's commercials advertising their "Campbell's Select" premium soup brand.

Children's entertainment

Lithgow is also dedicated to his work for children, including several books and albums geared towards kids. Some of his book titles are Marsupial Sue, Marsupial Sue Presents "The Runaway Pancake," Lithgow Party Paloozas!: 52 Unexpected Ways to Make a Birthday, Holiday, or Any Day a Celebration for Kids, The Carnivale of Animals, A Lithgow Palooza: 101 Ways to Entertain and Inspire Your Kids, I'm a Manatee, Micawber, The Remarkable Farkle McBride, and Mahalia Mouse Goes to College.

Lithgow launched into a career as a recording artist with the 1999 album of children's music, Singin' in the Bathtub. In June of 2002, Lithgow released his second children's album Farkle and Friends. It was the musical companion to his book The Remarkable Farkle McBride, which tells the story of a young musical genius. Farkle and Friends features the vocal talents of Lithgow and Bebe Neuwirth backed by the Bill Elliott Swing Orchestra. In August of 2006, Lithgow released he Sunny Side of the Street, his third children's album and first with Razor & Tie. This album features versions of classic songs from The Great American Songbook including “Getting to Know You” and “Ya Gotta Have Pep,” with decidedly animated performances geared towards children. Produced by JC Hopkins (Victoria Williams, JC Hopkins Biggish Band featuring Norah Jones), the album features guest appearances by Madeleine Peyroux, Wayne Knight (Seinfeld’s Newman), Broadway’s Sherie Rene Scott (Aida, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) and cabaret star Maude Maggart. Lithgow also makes occasional appearances on stage and television singing children's songs and accompanying himself on guitar.

Other appearances

Lithgow voiced the character of Yoda in the National Public Radio adaptations of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. He provided narration for the IMAX film Special Effects. He hosts Paloozaville, a children's Video on Demand program on Mag Rack based on his best-selling children's books. He appeared in the most recent Campbell's Select™Soups commercials, portraying a restaurant waiter serving 'customers' in their own household.

Personal life

Lithgow currently resides in Los Angeles. He has been married twice, to Jean Taynton from 1966 to 1980, and Mary Yeager since 1981. He is the father of three children, Ian (born in 1972) from his marriage to Taynton and Phoebe McCurtain (born in 1982) and Nathan George (born in 1983) from his marriage to Yeager. Ian made regular appearances on Third Rock from the Sun as Leon, a particularly slow student in Prof. Solomon's class.

Lithgow is a registered pastor of Rose Ministries, and has officiated the wedding of his goddaughter.

He is a descendant of the poet Anne Bradstreet.

Bio from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lithgow