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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

One of the most consistently acclaimed actors in motion picture and television history, Jack Lemmon became the first man to win Academy Awards as both Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Mister Roberts" (1955) and Best Actor for "Save the Tiger" (1973). In between and after, Lemmon amassed an envious résumé of credits that included a wide range of comedic and dramatic roles. But most importantly, he enjoyed long-running collaborations with director Billy Wilder and actor Walter Matthau, both of whom helped Lemmon produce some of his finest work. Lemmon first worked with Wilder on the iconic comedy "Some Like it Hot" (1959) before again turning in a high-quality performance in "The Apartment" (1960. He went on to establish his dramatic bona fides with "Days of Wine and Rose" (1962) before starring opposite Matthau in their first partnership "The Fortune Cookie" (1966). But it was their iconic clashing of personalities in Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" (1968) that cemented their place as comedy partners in the public's mind. Lemmon went on to a string of critical hits that garnered a number of awards and nominations, including "The China Syndrome" (1979), "Tribute" (1980) and "Missing" (1982). He...

One of the most consistently acclaimed actors in motion picture and television history, Jack Lemmon became the first man to win Academy Awards as both Best Supporting Actor for his role in "Mister Roberts" (1955) and Best Actor for "Save the Tiger" (1973). In between and after, Lemmon amassed an envious résumé of credits that included a wide range of comedic and dramatic roles. But most importantly, he enjoyed long-running collaborations with director Billy Wilder and actor Walter Matthau, both of whom helped Lemmon produce some of his finest work. Lemmon first worked with Wilder on the iconic comedy "Some Like it Hot" (1959) before again turning in a high-quality performance in "The Apartment" (1960. He went on to establish his dramatic bona fides with "Days of Wine and Rose" (1962) before starring opposite Matthau in their first partnership "The Fortune Cookie" (1966). But it was their iconic clashing of personalities in Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple" (1968) that cemented their place as comedy partners in the public's mind. Lemmon went on to a string of critical hits that garnered a number of awards and nominations, including "The China Syndrome" (1979), "Tribute" (1980) and "Missing" (1982). He delivered fine turns in "JFK" (1991) and "Glengarry Glen Ross" (1992) before finding surprising commercial success alongside Matthau with "Grumpy Old Men" (1993) and "Grumpier Old Men" (1995). Though the pair faltered with "Out to Sea" (1997) and the ill-advised sequel "The Odd Couple II" (1998), Lemmon gave searing performances on the small screen in "12 Angry Men" (Showtime, 1997) and "Tuesdays with Morrie" (ABC, 1999), proving that his considerable gifts became more refined with age.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Kotch (1971) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Tuesdays With Morrie (1999) Morrie Schwartz
2.
 Forever Hollywood (1999) Himself
3.
 Inherit the Wind (1999) Henry Drummond
4.
 Neil Simon's Odd Couple II (1998) Felix Ungar
6.
 Long Way Home, The (1998) Tom Gerrin
7.
 Puppies For Sale (1997)
8.
 12 Angry Men (1997) Juror No 8
9.
 Out to Sea (1997) Herb
10.
 Weekend in the Country, A (1996) Bud Bailey
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1929:
Made stage debut at age four with his father in an amateur production of "Gold in Them Thar Hills" (date approximate)
:
A sickly child, he underwent three painful ear surgeries before age 10; took up cross-country running with such determination that he eventually broke the New England record for the two-mile
1945:
Served as communications officer (ensign) with the US Naval Reserve
1947:
Played piano at Old Nick Saloon in New York City
:
Performed with New England stock company on radio and in Off-Broadway productions; produced and acted in three short-lived TV series with first wife Cynthia Stone ("That Wonderful Guy" ABC, 1950; "Ad Libbers" CBS, 1951; "Heaven for Betsy" CBS, 1952)
1952:
Founded Jalem Production Company
1953:
Broadway debut as Leo Davis in "Room Service"
1954:
Film acting debut in "It Should Happen to You", directed by George Cukor
1955:
First of six films with director Richard Quine, "My Sister Eileen" (screenplay by Quine and Blake Edwards); had actually done a film with Quine ("Extra Dollars") the year before for the United States Treasury Department
1955:
Won Oscar as Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of Ensign Pulver in his fourth movie, "Mister Roberts"
1957:
Acted in "Fire Down Below" and received credit as a song performer for the harmonica theme
1959:
First film with director Billy Wilder, "Some Like It Hot"; received first Best Actor Academy Award nomination
1960:
Attempted to climb corporate ladder by loaning his apartment key to various executives for their trysts in Wilder's "The Apartment"; earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination
1962:
Appeared as Lee Remick's husband who pulls her into alcoholism in Blake Edwards' "Days of Wine and Roses", his first major dramatic film role; garnered another Best Actor Academy Award nomination
1964:
Last film with Quine, "How to Murder Your Wife"
1965:
Reteamed with Edwards for "The Great Race"
1966:
First film opposite Walter Matthau, "The Fortune Cookie"
1967:
Executive produced "Cool Hand Luke", starring Paul Newman
1968:
Reteamed with Matthau for their definitive vehicle, Neil Simon's "The Odd Couple"
1970:
Starred opposite Sandy Dennis in "The Out of Towners", scripted by Simon
1971:
Directed feature film "Kotch", starring Matthau and Lemmon's second wife Felicia Farr
1972:
Hosted the acclaimed NBC variety special "Jack Lemmon in 'S Wonderful, 'S Marvelous, 'S Gershwin"; received Emmy Award
1972:
Received a Golden Globe Award for his comic performance in Wilder's underrated "Avanti!"
1973:
Won second Oscar as Best Actor for his down and out salesman in "Save the Tiger"
1975:
Played Archie Rice in NBC TV version of John Osborne's "The Entertainer" at the urging of Laurence Olivier, who had created the role on stage and film; received Emmy nomination
1978:
Created the role of Scottie Templeton in Broadway production of Bernard Slade's "Tribute"; reprised part in 1980 film version for which he earned an Oscar nomination and also co-wrote the song "It's All for the Best" with Alan Jay Lerner; reteamed with Remick in film
1979:
Starred as dedicated plant executive in "The China Syndrome", a heartpounding drama about an attempted cover-up of an accident at California nuclear plant; nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award
1981:
Wrote screenplay for "Track Two", a documentary feature
1981:
Starred with Matthau in seventh and last film with Wilder, "Buddy Buddy"; also Wilder's last film
1982:
Portrayed stiff-backed Ed Horman searching for his missing son in Costa-Gavras' "Missing"; again garnered a Best Actor Oscar nomination
1986:
Returned to Broadway as James Tyrone in revival of Eugene O'Neill's "Long Day's Journey Into Night"; reprised role for 1987 Showtime TV version; first association with actor Kevin Spacey and Peter Gallagher
1987:
Inducted into Television Academy Hall of Fame
1988:
Reunited with Spacey and Gallagher in the NBC miniseries "The Murder of Mary Phagan"
1989:
Appeared in title role of "Dad", co-starring Spacey
1991:
Delivered a nice turn as private investigator Jack Martin in Oliver Stone's "JFK"
1992:
Offered totally credible turn as the loser in an office full of desperate real estate salesmen in "Glengarry Glen Ross"; Spacey also in cast
1993:
Scored huge commercial success with Matthau in "Grumpy Old Men"
1995:
Sequel "Grumpier Old Men" proved an even bigger hit than its precursor
1996:
Directed by Matthau's son Charles in "The Grass Harp", adapted from the Truman Capote book
1997:
Ninth feature with Matthau, "Out to Sea"
1997:
Played Juror 8 in TV remake of "12 Angry Men" (Showtime); ensemble cast included Goerge C Scott
1998:
Reteamed with Simon and Matthau for "The Odd Couple II"; tenth feature collaboration with Matthau
1999:
Portrayed Henry Drummond to Scott's Matthew Harrison Brady in the Showtime remake of "Inherit the Wind"; Scott a few years prior had played Drummond to Charles Durning's Brady on Broadway
1999:
Played Morrie Schwartz in "Tuesdays with Morrie", an ABC movie executive produced by Oprah Winfrey; garnered Emmy Award
2000:
Appeared in cameo and served as narrator of "The Legend of Bagger Vance"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Rivers County School: Chestnut Hill , Massachusetts -
Phillips Andover Academy: Andover , Massachusetts - 1943
Harvard University: Cambridge , Massachusetts - 1947
Harvard University: Cambridge , Massachusetts - 1947

Notes

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.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Cynthia Boyd Stone. Actor. Married on May 7, 1950; divorced in 1956; mother of Lemmon's son Chris; later married Cliff Robertson.
wife:
Felicia Farr. Actor. Married on August 17, 1962; Lemmon directed her in "Kotch" (1971), and she played a small role in "That's Life" (1986); they also made cameo appearances as themselves in "The Player" (1992); mother of Lemmon's daughter Courtney.

Family close complete family listing

father:
John Uhler Lemmon Jr. Executive. President of Doughnut Corporation of America.
mother:
Mildred LaRue Lemmon. Described by son as "Tallulah Bankhead on a road show"; used to hang out with her girlfriends at Boston's Ritz Bar and tried to have her creamtion ashes placed on the bar, but management refused.
son:
Chris Lemmon. Actor, writer, producer. Born on January 22, 1954; mother, Cynthia Stone; has acted in films featuring his father including "That's Life!" (1986) and "Dad" (1989); has also acted on the TV series "Knots Landing" (CBS), "Duet" and "Open House" (both Fox).
daughter:
Courtney Lemmon. Born c. 1966; mother, Felicia Farr; runs a charitable foundation endowed by her father; married to Joel McCrea's son Peter.
grandson:
Christopher Boyd Lemmon. Born on April 3, 1994; father, Chris Lemmon.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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