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|Also Known As:||John Uhler Lemmon Iii||Died:||June 27, 2001|
|Born:||February 8, 1925||Cause of Death:||complications from cancer|
|Birth Place:||Boston, Massachusetts, USA||Profession:||actor, producer, screenwriter, director, piano player|
Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY
his role as an elderly widower who runs away to avoid his family putting him in a home. As the star of the variety special "Jack Lemmon in 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous 'S Gershwin" (NBC, 1972), Lemmon won an Emmy for his performance in this musical tribute to the songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin.Continuing to essay one role after another, Lemmon pushed to make "Save the Tiger" (1973) despite it limited commercial potential because of its bleak portrayal of a businessman who finds himself mentally collapsing after the failure of his clothing company. While the prospects of bad box office came true, Lemmon delivered one of his most gripping dramatic performances of his career and earned an Oscar for Best Actor â¿¿ the first actor to win in both that category and for Best Supporting Actor. He returned to Billy Wilder comedies for "The Front Page" (1974), playing an ace reporter working for a ruthless newspaper editor tasked with uncovering political corruption in Chicago. Lemmon went on to play an out-of-work ad man living off the income generated by his wife (Anne Bancroft) in the screen adaptation of the lesser Neil Simon play "Prisoner of Second Avenue" (1974). Back on the small screen, he...
his role as an elderly widower who runs away to avoid his family putting him in a home. As the star of the variety special "Jack Lemmon in 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous 'S Gershwin" (NBC, 1972), Lemmon won an Emmy for his performance in this musical tribute to the songwriting team of George and Ira Gershwin.
Continuing to essay one role after another, Lemmon pushed to make "Save the Tiger" (1973) despite it limited commercial potential because of its bleak portrayal of a businessman who finds himself mentally collapsing after the failure of his clothing company. While the prospects of bad box office came true, Lemmon delivered one of his most gripping dramatic performances of his career and earned an Oscar for Best Actor â¿¿ the first actor to win in both that category and for Best Supporting Actor. He returned to Billy Wilder comedies for "The Front Page" (1974), playing an ace reporter working for a ruthless newspaper editor tasked with uncovering political corruption in Chicago. Lemmon went on to play an out-of-work ad man living off the income generated by his wife (Anne Bancroft) in the screen adaptation of the lesser Neil Simon play "Prisoner of Second Avenue" (1974). Back on the small screen, he received an Emmy nomination for his work in "The Entertainer" (NBC, 1975), before making an ill-advised appearance in the rather implausible, all-star disaster sequel "Airport â¿¿77" (1977). Meanwhile, Lemmon found himself back on Broadway as a press agent dying of cancer in "Tribute" (1978), a role he reprised for the 1980 film adaptation which earned him yet another Academy Award nomination.
Prior to his leading role in "Tribute," Lemmon played a quick-thinking nuclear plant engineer who investigates a meltdown with fluff TV news reporter (Jane Fonda) and her cameraman (Michael Douglas) in the gripping political thriller, "The China Syndrome" (1979). Once again, he earned an Academy Award nomination for his performance. Following a rather underwhelming reunion with Matthau and Wilder on "Buddy Buddy" (1981), Lemmon played a Christian Scientist father who searches for his missing son during the first days of Pinochet's Chile in Costa Gavrasâ¿¿ well-received political drama, "Missing" (1982), which again propelled the actor to another Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Following turns in "Mass Appeal" (1984) and "Macaroni" (1985), he ventured back to Broadway to star as James Tyrone in a production of the Eugene Oâ¿¿Neill play "Long Day's Journey Into Night" (1986), a role he reprised for Showtimeâ¿¿s 1987 small screen adaption, which marked his first collaboration with friend Kevin Spacey. As the decade progressed, Lemmon began taking more television roles, including the lead in "The Murder of Mary Phagan" (NBC, 1988), which earned him an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor.
After a critically acclaimed turn as a father recovering from a heart attack in "Dad" (1989), Lemmon continued to display his versatility and capabilities throughout the 1990s. He delivered an excellent turn as private investigator Jack Martin, who is gripped by fear of what he knows in Oliver Stone's "JFK" (1991). Lemmon followed up with one of his more memorable performances, playing down-and-out salesman Shelley "The Machine" Levene in the excellent adaption of David Mametâ¿¿s blistering, curse-laden play "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992), a role that proved he still carried a considerable degree of dramatic heft and could keep up line-for-line with his much younger co-stars. Following a supporting role in Robert Altmanâ¿¿s ensemble drama "Short Cuts" (1993), Lemmon scored a surprise commercial success opposite Matthau in "Grumpy Old Men" (1993), which reinvigorated both their careers and spawned the more financially successful, but also more critically maligned sequel "Grumpier Old Men" (1995). Lemmon next starred opposite Matthau in the well-acted adaptation of the Truman Capote novel, "The Grass Harp" (1996), directed by Charles Matthau, before scuttling any proposal for "Grumpiest Old Men" following their failure with "Out to Sea" (1997).
Lemmon continued delivering powerhouse dramatic performances with his Emmy-nominated turn as the dedicated, appraising Juror #8 in the remake of "12 Angry Men" (Showtime, 1997), directed by William Friedkin. At the 1998 Golden Globe Awards, he lost Best Actor in a Made for TV Movie" to Ving Rhames, but after accepting the award, Rhames asked Lemmon to come on stage and, in a move that stunned the audience, graciously gave his award to his acting hero. While awkward for Lemmon, who appeared touched but not sure what to do, it made for one of the ceremoniesâ¿¿ most famous moments. Perhaps hoping to simultaneously build off the success of "Grumpy Old Men" while trying to recapture past glory, Lemmon and Matthau reprised their most iconic roles of Felix and Oscar for the critical and commercial failure "The Odd Couple II" (1998). Sadly, this dud proved to be the last time the two appeared onscreen together. Meanwhile, Lemmonâ¿¿s squaring off against George C. Scott's hot-tempered Juror #3 in "12 Angry Men" was so electric that Showtime tried to catch lightning in a bottle and cast the pair in a remake of "Inherit the Wind" (1999), only to produce underwhelming, but nonetheless well-acted results. With retirement out of the question for the hardworking actor, Lemmon christened the new millennium with a cameo in Robert Redford's "The Legend of Bagger Vance" (2000), before inspiring both empathy and awe as the irrepressible Morrie Schwartz, who is stricken with Lou Gehrig's disease and confined to a wheelchair in "Tuesdays with Morrie" (ABC, 1999). The role finally earned him his first Emmy Award since 1972, winning for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie. Meanwhile, Lemmon suffered grave personal loss when old friend Walter Matthau died in July 2000 from colon cancer. Ironically, Lemmon followed almost a year later, also dying from colon cancer on June 27, 2001. He was 76.lcoholism. Also starring Lee Remick as Lemmonâ¿¿s wife, the film earned respectable box office numbers and was hailed as one of Edwardsâ¿¿ finest works, while Lemmon delivered one of the best performances of his career and earned another Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. After rejoining Wilder and MacLaine for the comedy "Irma la Douce" (1963), he made his last film with director Richard Quine, "How to Murder Your Wife" (1965), a comedy in which he was a wealthy cartoonist who gets drunk and marries a beautiful Italian woman (Virna Lisi) he later tries to get rid of to please his disappointed fans. Lemmon worked for the first time with good friend and frequent collaborator Walter Matthau on "The Fortune Cookie" (1966), a Billy Wilder comedy about a CBS cameraman (Lemmon) injured while covering a game on the field, who is convinced by his scheming lawyer brother (Matthau) to fake a serious injury for the insurance money. Though Lemmon was the star, Matthau delivered a standout performance that earned him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
Because their screen chemistry was immediately obvious, Lemmon and Matthau soon teamed up for arguably their most definitive vehicle, director Gene Saks' screen adaptation of Neil Simon's hit play "The Odd Couple" (1968). Though Lemmonâ¿¿s part as the finicky Felix Unger was originally coveted by Matthau, who went on to play the slovenly Oscar Madison, the two both inhabited their roles so perfectly that audiences expected a similar juxtaposition of opposites and resultant repartee from later Lemmon/Matthau pictures. After starring opposite Catherine Deneuve in the romantic comedy "April Fools" (1969), Lemmon earned a Golden Globe for his performance as a middle-aged husband from Ohio who experiences a series of mishaps with his wife (Sandy Dennis) while in New York City for a job interview in Neil Simonâ¿¿s "The Out-of-Towners" (1969). He next directed his one and only film, "Kotch" (1971), which snared Matthau a Best Actor Oscar nomination for
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CAST: (feature film)
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He was an honoree for the annual tribute from the Film Society of Lincoln Center in 1993.
Lemmon received the Spencer Tracy Award from UCLA in 2000.
"When I read a script, if I don't know how to play the part, I'll get excited and want to do it. Good writing is harder to play because there are depths, and it's delicious hell to decide which depths you're going to bring out. Eighty percent of acting is that delicious hell of finding out who the guy is. The rest is execution--letting somebody else know what you already know ... Usually it's two, three, four weeks into a movie before you find the guy. All of a sudden you come out of a scene and you say, 'I've got him.' You know him. Then you paint on the rest of the face and say, 'There he is.' But if I know how to play it, then it's very surface stuff, very simple. It's 3B, 4H; I've done it a dozen times." --Jack Lemmon quoted in "The Films of Jack Lemmon" by Joe Baltake (Citadel Press, 1977).
On his relationship with Walter Matthau: "Well, we're very, very close. We always have been from the first film we did together. Our wives immediately hit it off just as we did. The working relationship was heaven because we were always on the same wavelength and we never got off it. So, it's just sort of like sitting down and chatting with each other when we rehearse--there's nothing to it. We just run the lines a couple of times and say, 'Let's go.'" --Lemmon in Daily News, October 6, 1996.
During the 1998 telecast of the Golden Globe Awards, winner Ving Rhames (for HBO's "Don King: Only in America") called fellow nominee Lemmon (for Showtime's "12 Angry Men") onstage and in an expression of admiration for the actor presented him with the award. A flustered Lemmon didn't quite know what to make of the matter but accepted. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) later announced that Lemmon could retain the trophy although he would not be sent a plaque to attach, indicating he had won. The HFPA intended to send a trophy with plaque to Ving Rhames, the rightful recipient.
About those 1998 Golden Globes Awards: "The only thing I remember is, when I passed Jack Nicholson, he said, 'Give it to me! Give it to me!' I didn't know what in hell he was talking about." --Lemmon quoted in People, May 18, 1998.
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