James Allen Whitmore

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James Allen Whitmore

Birthplace: White Plains, New York, USA
Death: Died in Malibu, California, USA
Immediate Family:

Son of James Allen Whitmore, Sr. and Florence Belle Whitmore
Husband of <private> Whitmore (Nash)
Ex-husband of Nancy Whitmore and Audra Marie Lindley
Father of James Whitmore, Jr. and <private> Whitmore

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About James Allen Whitmore

A veteran stage and screen actor best remembered for his supporting character roles in a slew of TV and film productions since the late 1940s, James Whitmore graduated from Yale, served in the US Marines in WWII and studied acting on the G.I. Bill at the famed American Theatre Wing. In 1947, he made his Broadway debut in "Command Decision" for which he won a Tony Award for his supporting role. Hollywood quickly came calling and Whitmore he made his screen debut in 1949's "The Undercover Man". For his second film that same year, "Battleground", he won an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a sergeant leading his troops in the Battle of the Bulge. Besides innumerable TV appearances throughout his career, Whitmore starred in three of his own series, the most successful of which, "The Law and Mr. Jones", ran for three seasons on ABC in the early 1960s. He has also made periodic returns to his first love, the stage, appearing Off-Broadway in repertory in two plays "Handy Dandy" and "About Time" (1990). He has also toured nationally in one-man shows based on the lives of such diverse historical figures as legendary humorist Will Rogers, and Presidents Teddy Roosevelt and Harry Truman. (A 1975 feature version of the latter, "Give 'Em Hell, Harry!" brought him a second Oscar nod in the Best Actor category.)

He was born as James Allen Whitmore, Jr. on October 1, 1921 in White Plains, New York, to Florence Belle (née Crane) and James Allen Whitmore, Sr., a park commission official, Whitmore attended Amherst Central High School in Snyder, New York, before graduating from The Choate School (now Choate Rosemary Hall) in Wallingford, Connecticut. He went on to study at Yale, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. He later was commissioned a Second Lieutenant and served in the United States Marine Corps in the Panama Canal Zone during World War II.

Following World War II, Whitmore appeared on Broadway in the role of the Sergeant in Command Decision. MGM hired Whitmore on contract, but his role in the film adaptation was played by Van Johnson. Whitmore's first major picture was Battleground, in a role that was turned down by Spencer Tracy, and for which Whitmore was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. Other major films included The Asphalt Jungle, The Next Voice You Hear,[2][3] Above and Beyond, Kiss Me, Kate, Them!, Oklahoma!, Black Like Me, Guns of the Magnificent Seven, Tora! Tora! Tora!, and Give 'em Hell, Harry!, for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of former U.S. President Harry S Truman. In the movie Tora! Tora! Tora! he played the part of Admiral William F. "Bull" Halsey

In the 1960-1961 television season, Whitmore starred in his own crime drama on ABC entitled The Law and Mr. Jones, in the title role, with Conlan Carter as legal assistant C.E. Carruthers and Janet De Gore as his secretary. The program ran at the 10:30 Eastern half-hour slot on Friday. It was cancelled after one year but returned in April 1962 for thirteen additional episodes on Thursday to fill the half-hour vacated by the cancellation of the ABC sitcom Margie.

In 1963, Whitmore played Captain William Benteen in The Twilight Zone episode "On Thursday We Leave for Home". In 1967 he guest starred as a security guard in The Invaders episode, Quantity: Unknown. That same year, he appeared on an episode of ABC's Custer starring Wayne Maunder in the title role. In 1969, Whitmore played the leading character of Professor Woodruff in the TV series My Friend Tony, produced by NBC. Whitmore also made several memorable appearances on the classic ABC western The Big Valley starring Barbara Stanwyck during the second half of the 1960s. From 1972-1973, he played Dr. Vincent Campanelli in the short-lived ABC medical sitcom Temperatures Rising. He also appeared in Planet of the Apes.

Whitmore appeared as General Oliver O. Howard in the 1975 TV movie I Will Fight No More Forever, based on the 1877 conflict between the United States Army and the Nez Percé tribe, led by Chief Joseph. In 1986, Whitmore voiced Mark Twain in the first claymation film The Adventures of Mark Twain. Whitmore's last major role was that of librarian Brooks Hatlen in the critically-acclaimed and Academy award-nominated 1994 Frank Darabont film starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman, The Shawshank Redemption. Two years later, he co-starred in the 1996 horror/sci-fi film The Relic.

In 2002 Whitmore played a supporting role in The Majestic, a film that starred Jim Carrey. To a younger generation, he was probably best known, in addition to his role in Shawshank, as the commercial spokesman for Miracle-Gro plant food for many years.

Whitmore did extensive theatre work. He won a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Newcomer in the Broadway production of Command Decision (1948). He later won the title "King of the One Man Show" after appearing in the solo vehicles Will Rogers' USA (1970) (repeating the role for TV in 1972), Give 'em Hell, Harry! (1975) (repeating the role in the film version, for which he was nominated for an Oscar) and as Theodore Roosevelt in Bully (1977) although the latter production did not repeat the success of the first two.

In 1999, he played Raymond Oz in two episodes of The Practice, earning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series. In 2002, Whitmore got the role of the Grandfather in the Disney Channel original movie A Ring of Endless Light. Whitmore has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6611 Hollywood Blvd. In April 2007, he also appeared in C.S.I. in an episode titled "Ending Happy" as Milton, an elderly man who provides a clue of dubious utility.

Whitmore was twice married to Nancy Mygatt. They first married in 1947 and the couple had three sons before their divorce in 1971. One of those sons, James III, has gone on to find success as a television actor and director, under the name James Whitmore, Jr. Another son, Steve Whitmore, went on to be public spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. His youngest son, Daniel, was a Forest Service Snow Ranger and firefighter before starting his own construction company.

Following the divorce from Mygatt, Whitmore was married to actress Audra Lindley (died 1997) from 1972 until 1979. He later remarried Mygatt, but they divorced again after two years.

In 2001, he married actress and author Noreen Nash, who is the grandmother of film actor Sebastian Siegel.

Whitmore is the grandfather of Survivor: Gabon contestant Matty Whitmore. In his later years, Whitmore spent most of his summers in Peterborough, New Hampshire, performing with the Peterborough Players.

Although not always politically active, in 2007, Whitmore generated some publicity with his endorsement of Barack Obama for U.S. President. In January 2008, Whitmore appeared in television commercials for the First Freedom First campaign, which advocates preserving "the separation of church and state" and protecting religious liberty.

Whitmore was diagnosed with lung cancer in November 2008, from which he died at his Malibu, California, home on February 6, 2009. He was 87. His ashes were scattered into the Pacific Ocean.




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James Allen Whitmore's Timeline

October 1, 1921
White Plains, New York, USA
October 24, 1948
Age 27
New York, New York, USA
February 6, 2009
Age 87
Malibu, California, USA