Jack Lemmon

John Uhler "Jack" Lemmon III (February 8, 1925 – June 27, 2001) was an American actor and musician. Lemmon was an eight time Academy Award nominee, with two wins. He starred in over 60 films, such as Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Mister Roberts (for which he won the 1955 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor), Days of Wine and Roses, The Great Race, Irma la Douce, The Odd Couple, Save the Tiger (for which he won the 1973 Academy Award for Best Actor), The Out-of-Towners, The China Syndrome, Missing (for which he won Best Actor at the 1982 Cannes Film Festival), Glengarry Glen Ross, Grumpy Old Men and Grumpier Old Men.

    Early life

    Lemmon was born on February 8, 1925 in an elevator at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. He was the only child of Mildred Burgess LaRue (née Noel) and John Uhler Lemmon, Jr., the president of a doughnut company. His paternal grandmother was from an Irish immigrant family. Lemmon attended John Ward Elementary School in Newton and The Rivers School in Weston, Massachusetts. He stated that he knew he wanted to be an actor from the age of eight. Lemmon attended Phillips Academy (Class of 1943) and Harvard University (Class of 1947), where he lived in Eliot House and was an active member of several Drama Clubs – and president of the Hasty Pudding Club – as well as a member of the Delphic Club for Gentleman, a final club at Harvard.

    At Harvard, Lemmon was a member of the V-12 Navy College Training Program, and he was commissioned by the United States Navy, serving as an ensign on an aircraft carrier briefly before returning to Harvard after the end of his military service. After graduation in 1947, Lemmon took up acting professionally, working on radio, television and Broadway. He studied acting under coach Uta Hagen. He was enamored of the piano and learned to play it on his own. He could also play the harmonica, guitar, organ, and the double bass.

    Career

    Lemmon's film debut was a bit part as a plasterer/painter in the 1949 film The Lady Takes a Sailor, but he went unnoticed until his debut, opposite Judy Holliday, in the 1954 comedy It Should Happen to You. Lemmon worked with legendary actresses, such as Marilyn Monroe, Natalie Wood, Betty Grable, Janet Leigh, Shirley MacLaine, Lee Remick, Romy Schneider, Doris Day, Kim Novak, Holliday, Rita Hayworth, June Allyson, Virna Lisi, Ann-Margret and Sophia Loren. He was close friends with actors, Tony Curtis, Ernie Kovacs, Walter Matthau and Kevin Spacey. He made two films with Curtis, three films with Kovacs (Operation Mad Ball, Bell, Book and Candle and It Happened to Jane) and eleven with Matthau.[]

    Early in Lemmon's career he met comedian Ernie Kovacs while co-starring with him in Operation Mad Ball. Lemmon and Kovacs became close friends and appeared together in two subsequent films, Bell, Book and Candle and It Happened to Jane In 1977 PBS broadcast a compilation series of Kovacs' television work, and Lemmon served as the narrator of the series. Lemmon discussed his friendship with Kovacs in the documentary, Ernie Kovacs: Television's Original Genius.

    He was a favorite of director Billy Wilder, starring in the films Some Like It Hot (for which he was awarded Best Actor at the Cannes Film Festival), The Apartment, Irma la Douce, The Fortune Cookie, Avanti!, The Front Page, and Buddy Buddy. Wilder felt Lemmon had a natural tendency toward overacting that had to be tempered; the Wilder biography Nobody's Perfect quotes the director as saying, "Lemmon, I would describe him as a ham, a fine ham, and with ham you have to trim a little fat". The biography quotes Lemmon as saying, "I am particularly susceptible to the parts I play... If my character was having a nervous breakdown, I started to have one".

    He enjoyed a longtime working relationships with both Blake Edwards, starring in Days of Wine and Roses (1962), The Great Race (1965) and That's Life! (1986), and Richard Quine, starring in My Sister Eileen, Operation Mad Ball., Bell, Book and Candle and It Happened to Jane and How to Murder Your Wife (1965). Quine also directed Lemmon's screen test when the actor was signed by Columbia.

    Lemmon recorded an album in 1958 while filming Some Like It Hot with Marilyn Monroe. Twelve jazz tracks were created for Lemmon and another twelve were added. Lemmon played the piano and recorded his own renditions of Monroe's trademark songs, I Wanna Be Loved By You and I'm Through With Love, for the album which was released in 1959 as A Twist of Lemmon/Some Like It Hot.

    Lemmon was awarded the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1956 for Mister Roberts (1955) and the Best Actor Oscar for Save the Tiger (1973), becoming the first actor to achieve this rare double (the only other actors to achieve this are: Robert De Niro, Gene Hackman, Jack Nicholson, Kevin Spacey, and Denzel Washington). He was also nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his role in the controversial film Missing in 1982, and for his roles in Some Like It Hot (1959), The Apartment (1960), Days of Wine and Roses (1962), The China Syndrome (1979), and Tribute (1980). He won another Cannes award for his performance in Missing (which received the Palme d'Or). In 1988, the American Film Institute gave him its Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Days of Wine and Roses (1962) was a favorite role. He portrayed Joe Clay, a young, fun-loving alcoholic businessman. In that film, Lemmon delivered the line, "My name is Joe Clay ... I'm an alcoholic." Three and a half decades later, he stated on the television program Inside the Actors Studio that he was a recovering alcoholic.

    Lemmon's production company JML produced Cool Hand Luke in 1967. Paul Newman was grateful to Lemmon for his support and offered him the role of the Sundance Kid, later played by Robert Redford in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, but Lemmon turned it down. He did not like riding horses and he felt he'd already played too many aspects of the Sundance Kid's character before.

    Charlie Chaplin (right) receiving an Honorary Academy Award from Lemmon at the 44th Academy Awards in 1972

    Lemmon appeared in many films partnered with actor Walter Matthau. Among their pairings was 1968's The Odd Couple, as Felix Ungar (Lemmon) and Oscar Madison (Matthau). The first film they starred in together was The Fortune Cookie (for which Matthau won the 1966 Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), The Front Page and Buddy Buddy. In 1971, Lemmon directed Matthau in the comedy Kotch. It was the only movie that Lemmon directed and Matthau was nominated for the Best Actor Oscar for his performance.

    Additionally, Lemmon and Matthau had small parts in Oliver Stone's 1991 film, JFK (the only film in which both appeared without sharing screen time). In 1993, the duo teamed again to star in Grumpy Old Men. The film was a surprise hit, earning the two actors a new generation of young fans. During the rest of the decade, they would star together in Grumpier Old Men, Out to Sea, and the widely panned The Odd Couple II. In 1996, Lemmon was awarded the Honorary Golden Bear award at the 46th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1997, Lemmon was a guest voice on The Simpsons episode "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson," playing the character Frank Ormand, owner of the pretzel business that Marge Simpson franchised. The recurring character Old Gil Gunderson, voiced by Dan Castellaneta, is an ongoing parody of Lemmon's character in Glengarry Glen Ross.

    At the 1998 Golden Globe Awards, he was nominated for "Best Actor in a Made for TV Movie" for his role in Twelve Angry Men losing to Ving Rhames. After accepting the award, Rhames asked Lemmon to come on stage and, in a move that stunned the audience, gave his award to him. (The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which presents the Golden Globes, had a second award made and sent to Rhames.). He received the AFI Life Achievement Award in 1988.

    Lemmon won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his role as Morrie Schwartz in his final television role, Tuesdays with Morrie. His final film role was an uncredited one: the narrator in Robert Redford's film The Legend of Bagger Vance.

    Personal life

    Lemmon in 1988

    Actor Kevin Spacey recalled that Lemmon is remembered for always making time for other people. Already regarded as a legend, he met teenage Spacey backstage after a theater performance and spoke to him about pursuing an acting career. Spacey would later work with Lemmon in The Murder of Mary Phagan (1987), Dad (1989), the critically acclaimed film Glengarry Glen Ross (1992) and on stage in a revival of Long Day's Journey into Night. Lemmon was Spacey's mentor, and taught Spacey that people who do well in a business have an obligation to "send the elevator back down" to help lift people starting out on the ground floor.

    In his autobiography, My Life, Burt Reynolds recalls Lemmon as the quintessential gentleman who never spoke ill of anyone, even if they deserved it. This kindness backfired for Reynolds: prior to accepting the lead in W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975), directed by John G. Avildsen, Reynolds asked Lemmon, whom Avildsen had directed in Save the Tiger (1973) for an opinion of Avildsen as a director. Lemmon told Reynolds that Avildsen was "okay", and Reynolds accepted the role. After the film was released and his experiences in production proved unhappy, Reynolds complained to Lemmon and described Avildsen as an "asshole", whereupon Lemmon replied, "I guess you could say that."

    Lemmon was married twice. His son Chris Lemmon (born 1954), was his first child by his first wife, actress Cynthia Stone. His second wife was actress Felicia Farr, with whom he had a daughter, Courtney (born 1966). Farr had a daughter from a previous relationship (her marriage to Lee Farr) named Denise. Lemmon was a Catholic. He publicly announced his alcoholism during a 1998 interview on Inside the Actors Studio.

    To golfers everywhere Lemmon was known as the "star" of the celebrity-packed third round telecast of the annual Bing Crosby National Pro-Am/AT&T National Pro Am, held at Pebble Beach Golf Links each February. Lemmon's packed gallery was there not only for his humor but also to root him on in his lifelong quest to "make the cut" to round 4, something he was not able to achieve.

    Death

    Jack Lemmon's grave

    Lemmon died of metastatic cancer of the bladder on June 27, 2001. He had been fighting the disease, privately, for two years before his death. He was interred at Westwood Village Memorial Park Cemetery in Westwood, California, buried near his friend and co-star, Walter Matthau, who died almost exactly one year before Lemmon. His gravestone simply reads:

    "JACK LEMMON
    in"

    Filmography

    Film

    Year Title Role Notes
    1949 The Lady Takes a Sailor Plasterer Uncredited
    1954 It Should Happen to You Pete Sheppard
    1954 Phffft! Robert Tracey
    1955 Three for the Show Martin "Marty" Stewart
    1955 Mister Roberts Ensign Frank Thurlowe Pulver Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
    Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
    1955 My Sister Eileen Robert "Bob" Baker
    1955 Hollywood Bronc Busters Himself
    1956 You Can't Run Away from It Peter Warne
    1957 Fire Down Below Tony
    1957 Operation Mad Ball Private Hogan Nominated — Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
    1958 Cowboy Frank Harris
    1958 Bell, Book and Candle Nicky Holroyd
    1959 Some Like It Hot Jerry "Gerald" / "Daphne" BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
    Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
    Nominated — Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
    1959 It Happened to Jane George Denham
    1960 The Apartment C. C. Baxter BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
    Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
    Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
    1960 Stowaway in the Sky Narrator Voice
    1960 Pepe Daphne Cameo
    1960 The Wackiest Ship in the Army Lt. Rip Crandall
    1962 The Notorious Landlady William "Bill" Gridley
    1962 Days of Wine and Roses Joe Clay Fotogramas de Plata Award for Best Foreign Performer
    San Sebastián International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
    Sant Jordi Award for Best Performance in a Foreign Film
    Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
    Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
    Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
    1963 Irma la Douce Nestor Patou / Lord X Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    1963 Under the Yum Yum Tree Hogan Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    1964 Good Neighbor Sam Sam Bissel Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
    1965 How to Murder Your Wife Stanley Ford Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
    Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
    1965 The Great Race Professor Fate / Prince Hapnick Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    Nominated — Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
    1966 The Fortune Cookie Harry Hinkle
    1967 Luv Harry Berlin
    1968 There Comes a Day
    1968 The Odd Couple Felix Ungar Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    Nominated — Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
    1969 The April Fools Howard Brubaker Laurel Award for Top Male Comedy Performance
    1970 The Out-of-Towners George Kellerman Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    1971 Kotch Sleeping bus passenger Director
    1972 The War Between Men and Women Peter Edward Wilson
    1972 Avanti! Wendell Armbruster, Jr. Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    1973 Save the Tiger Harry Stoner Academy Award for Best Actor
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
    1974 The Police Can't Move Narrator Voice
    1974 The Front Page Hildebrand "Hildy" Johnson David di Donatello for Best Actor (shared with Walter Matthau)
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    1975 Wednesday Jerry Murphy
    1975 The Gentleman Tramp Narrator Voice
    1975 The Prisoner of Second Avenue Mel Edison
    1976 Alex & the Gypsy Alexander Main
    1977 Airport '77 Captain Don Gallagher
    1979 The China Syndrome Jack Godell Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor
    David di Donatello for Best Actor (tied with Dustin Hoffman)
    BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
    Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
    Nominated — National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Actor
    1980 Tribute Scottie Templeton Silver Bear for Best Actor
    Genie Award for Best Performance by a Foreign Actor
    Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
    Nominated — Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Actor
    1981 Buddy Buddy Victor Clooney
    1982 Missing Ed Horman Cannes Film Festival Award for Best Actor
    Nominated — Academy Award for Best Actor
    Nominated — BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role
    Nominated — David di Donatello for Best Foreign Actor
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
    1984 Mass Appeal Father Tim Farley
    1985 Macaroni Robert Traven
    1986 That's Life! Harvey Fairchild Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
    1989 Dad Jake Tremont Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Drama
    1991 JFK Jack Martin
    1992 Beyond JFK: The Question of Conspiracy Himself
    1992 The Player Himself
    1992 Glengarry Glen Ross Shelley Levene National Board of Review Award for Best Actor
    Valladolid International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
    Volpi Cup Award for Best Actor
    1993 Luck, Trust & Ketchup: Robert Altman In Carver County Himself
    1993 Short Cuts Paul Finnigan Golden Globe Award for Best Ensemble Cast
    Volpi Cup for Best Ensemble Cast
    1993 Grumpy Old Men John Gustafson
    1995 The Grass Harp Dr. Morris Ritz
    1995 Grumpier Old Men John Gustafson Nominated — American Comedy Award for Funniest Actor in a Motion Picture
    1996 Getting Away with Murder Max Mueller / Karl Luger
    1996 My Fellow Americans President Russell P. Kramer
    1996 Hamlet Marcellus
    1997 Out to Sea Herb Sullivan
    1997 Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's Himself
    1998 Puppies for Sale Pet shop owner
    1998 The Odd Couple II Felix Ungar
    2000 The Legend of Bagger Vance Narrator / Hardy Greaves Uncredited

    Television

    Year Title Role Notes
    1949–1950 That Wonderful Guy Harold
    1950 Toni Twin Time Host Episode dated May 31, 1950
    1951 Ad-Libbers, TheThe Ad-Libbers Celebrity panelist 5 episodes
    1951–1952 Frances Langford-Don Ameche Show, TheThe Frances Langford-Don Ameche Show Newlywed "The Couple Next Door" sketches
    1952 Heaven for Betsy Pete Bell
    1954 Road of Life, TheThe Road of Life Surgeon
    1956 Day Lincoln Was Shot, TheThe Day Lincoln Was Shot John Wilkes Booth
    1957 What's My Line? Mystery Guest Season 9, Episode 10
    1957–1958 Alcoa Theatre Henry Coyle
    Steve Tyler
    Wally Mall
    Lieutenant Tony Crawford
    Edward King
    Episode: "Disappearance"
    Episode: "Most Likely to Succeed"
    Episode: "Loudmouth"
    Episode: "The Days of November"
    Episode: "Souvenir"
    1972 ‍ '​S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin Host Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Special
    1976 Entertainer, TheThe Entertainer Archie Rice Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
    1987 Long Day's Journey into Night James Tyrone, Sr. Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
    1988 Murder of Mary Phagan, TheThe Murder of Mary Phagan Gov. John Slaton Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
    1990 The Earth Day Special Coach Stewart
    1992 For Richer, for Poorer Aram Katourian Nominated — CableACE Award for Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
    1993 Life in the Theater, AA Life in the Theater Robert Nominated — CableACE Award for Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
    1994 Wild West Host
    1996 Weekend in the Country, AA Weekend in the Country Bud Bailey
    1997 Simpsons, TheThe Simpsons Frank Ormand Voice
    Episode: "The Twisted World of Marge Simpson"
    1997 12 Angry Men Juror No. 8 Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
    Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
    1998 Long Way Home, TheThe Long Way Home Thomas Gerrin
    1999 Inherit the Wind Henry Drummond Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
    Nominated — Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
    1999 Tuesdays with Morrie Morrie Schwartz Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie
    Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie
    Nominated — Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film

    Discography

    • A Twist of Lemmon/Some Like It Hot (1959)
    • Piano Selections from Irma La Douce (1963)
    • Piano and Vocals (1990)
    • Peter and the Wolf (1991)
    • Songs and music from Some Like It Hot (2001)

    References

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