Actor James Whitmore has passed away at 87

February 7, 2009

(ChattahBox) — James Whitmore, who had a long noteworthy career in movies, television and especially the theater with his popular one-man shows about Harry Truman, Will Rogers and Theodore Roosevelt, died Friday, his son said. He was 87.

The Emmy- and Tony-winning actor was diagnosed with lung cancer the week before Thanksgiving and died Friday afternoon at his Malibu home, Steve Whitmore said.

Whitmore started both his Broadway and Hollywood careers with acclaimed performances, both as tough-talking sergeants. In 1947, discharged a year from Marine duty, he made his Broadway debut in a taut Air Force drama, “Command Decision.” He was awarded a Tony for outstanding performance by a newcomer.

Two years later, Whitmore was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe as supporting actor in the war movie “Battleground.”

He followed with memorable performances in scores of films, refusing to be typed. Besides war movies, he appeared in Westerns (“The Last Frontier,” “Chato’s Land”), musicals (“Kiss Me Kate,” “Oklahoma!”), science fiction (“Planet of the Apes,” “Them”), dramas (“The Asphalt Jungle,” “The Shawshank Redemption”) and comedies (“Mr. O’Malley and Mrs. Malone,” “The Great Diamond Robbery.”)

His long-running “Give ’em Hell, Harry,” tracing the life of the 33rd president, was released as a theatrical movie in 1975. Whitmore was nominated for an Academy Award as best actor, marking the only time in Oscar history that an actor has been nominated for a film in which he was the only cast member. His Teddy Roosevelt portrait, “Bully,” was also converted into a movie.

He later became the TV pitchman for Miracle-Gro plant food, and used the product in his large vegetable garden at his Malibu home.

While not known for his politics, Whitmore was an early supporter of President Barack Obama.

He married Nancy Mygatt in 1947, and the couple had three sons, James, Steven and Daniel. They later divorced, and in 1971 he married an actress, Audra Lindley. They often appeared in plays together, even after their 1979 divorce. He remarried his first wife in the 1980s, but they divorced again. Nearing 80 in 2001, Whitmore married actress-writer Noreen Nash. Whitmore is also survived by eight grandchildren.


Comments

Got something to say? **Please Note** - Comments may be edited for clarity or obscenity, and all comments are published at the discretion of ChattahBox.com - Comments are the opinions of the individuals leaving them, and not of ChattahBox.com or its partners. - Please do not spam or submit comments that use copyright materials, hearsay or are based on reports where the supposed fact or quote is not a matter of public knowledge are also not permitted.