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Michael Jeter

Michael Jeter

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Also Known As: Died: March 30, 2003
Born: August 26, 1952 Cause of Death: unidentified causes; Jeter had been diagnosed HIV positive
Birth Place: Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, USA Profession: actor, secretary

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Versatile, diminutive character player of the NYC stage with a balding pate and mild Tennessee twang who is best known for his Emmy award-winning portrayal of likeable dweeb Herman Stiles, assistant coach to Burt Reynolds on the southern fried sitcom "Evening Shade" (CBS, 1990-94). Jeter first gained acclaim--and a Tony award--for his featured turn as the dying clerical worker (played in the original film by Lionel Barrymore) in the Broadway hit "Grand Hotel, The Musical" (1990). His off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway credits have included "The Boys Next Door", "Greater Tuna", and "Cloud 9". Jeter's film and TV credits extend back to 1979 when he made his feature debut with a small role in Milos Forman's film version of "Hair". He has appeared in a number of TV-movies and miniseries including "Gypsy" (CBS, 1993), starring Bette Midler, and "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City" (PBS, 1994). Jeter has fared well playing extreme characters, such as in his small but indelible role as a homeless cabaret singer with AIDS in Terry Gilliam's "The Fisher King" (1991). He was nominated for another Emmy for playing a decidedly eccentric frog breeder in a 1993 episode of the quirky CBS-TV drama "Picket...

Versatile, diminutive character player of the NYC stage with a balding pate and mild Tennessee twang who is best known for his Emmy award-winning portrayal of likeable dweeb Herman Stiles, assistant coach to Burt Reynolds on the southern fried sitcom "Evening Shade" (CBS, 1990-94). Jeter first gained acclaim--and a Tony award--for his featured turn as the dying clerical worker (played in the original film by Lionel Barrymore) in the Broadway hit "Grand Hotel, The Musical" (1990). His off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway credits have included "The Boys Next Door", "Greater Tuna", and "Cloud 9". Jeter's film and TV credits extend back to 1979 when he made his feature debut with a small role in Milos Forman's film version of "Hair". He has appeared in a number of TV-movies and miniseries including "Gypsy" (CBS, 1993), starring Bette Midler, and "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City" (PBS, 1994).

Jeter has fared well playing extreme characters, such as in his small but indelible role as a homeless cabaret singer with AIDS in Terry Gilliam's "The Fisher King" (1991). He was nominated for another Emmy for playing a decidedly eccentric frog breeder in a 1993 episode of the quirky CBS-TV drama "Picket Fences"--a part written specially for him. Back on the big screen, Jeter provided sturdy comic support to Whoopi Goldberg in "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" (1993), proved adept in the Wesley Snipes actioner "Drop Zone" (1994) as a nerdy computer whiz wanted by both the cops and the crooks.

In an emotional TV interview with Jann Carl of "Entertainment Tonight" in July 1997, Jeter disclosed that he had tested positive for HIV. He remained active in the industry, though, turning in a fine performance as a Cajun death row inmate in the Oscar-nominated "The Green Mile" (1999) and joining the cast of the long-running PBS children's series "Sesame Street" in 2000 as Mr. Noodle in the "Elmo's World" segments. After a turn in the high-profile sequel "Jurassic Park III" (2001) Jeter had a notable supporting turn as one of the loveable losers hoping for a big heist in "Welcome to Colinwood" (2002) and was tapped by director-star Kevin Costner to appear in the Western "Open Range" (2003). The actor had just completed a turn in a Performance Capture suit to film his dual role as the CGI characters Smokey and Steamer in the Robert Zemeckis-directed "The Polar Express" (2004), again opposite Hanks, when he died unexpectedly of undetermined causes.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Polar Express, The (2004) Smokey/Steamer
2.
 Open Range (2003) Percy
3.
 Welcome to Collinwood (2002) Toto
4.
 Daddy and Them (2001)
5.
 Jurassic Park III (2001) Udesky
6.
 Gift, The (2000) Gerald Weems
7.
 South of Heaven, West of Hell (2000) Uncle Jude
8.
 Jakob the Liar (1999) Avron
9.
 Naked Man, The (1999)
10.
 True Crime (1999) Dale Porterhouse
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

:
Worked as a secretary at a law firm
1979:
Film acting debut, Milos Forman's "Hair"
1979:
TV acting debut, "My Old Man", a CBS TV-movie
1988:
Debut as a TV series regular, "Hothouse", playing a young psychiatrist
1990:
Breakthrough stage role in "Grand Hotel, The Musical"; earned Tony playing the dying bookkeeper
1990:
Played Herman Stiles on the popular CBS sitcom, "Evening Shade"; won an Emmy for the role
1993:
Delivered a memorable Emmy-nominated guest performance on an episode of "Picket Fences" as a reclusive and fetishistic frog breeder
1997:
Disclosed that he is HIV-positive in an interview with Jann Carl of "Entertainment Tonight"
1999:
Co-starred as a death row inmate in "The Green Mile"
2000:
Joined the cast of "Sesame Street" as Mr. Noodle in the "Elmo's World" segments
2000:
Had strong supporting role as a defense attorney in "The Gift"
2000:
Acted in "South of Heaven, West of Hell", directed by and starring Dwight Yoakam
2001:
Co-starred in "Jurassic Park III"
2002:
Co-starred in the comedy feature "Welcome To Collinwood"
2003:
Appeared in director-star Kevin Costner's cattle drive Western "Open Range"
2004:
Starred opposite Tom Hanks in director Robert Zemeckis' animated feature "Polar Express"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Memphis State University: Memphis , Tennessee -

Notes

"I love playing people over the edge... I played a bored colonial housewife in this Off Broadway show "Cloud 9" once, and one day on the street, waiting for the light to change, this well-dressed man came up and said, 'When you first walked out on stage I thought, 'Why would someone hire such an ugly woman?' But you grew on me.' And that was one of my favorite compliments I'd ever gotten."---Michael Jeter quoted in "Hollywood's Wizard of Weird" by Alan Carter, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, January 8, 1993.

"In this extraordinary comic fable "The Fisher King" (1991), Jeff Bridges plays a disc jockey searching for redemption. He crosses paths with homeless Robin Williams, who's searching for the Holy Grail. On their travels, they befriend gay, homeless, ex-cabaret performer Michael Jeter. He touchingly recalls the death of all his friends to AIDS, and does Ethel Merman proud in a knockout version of 'Everything's Coming Up Roses'. Jeter, who should have been nominated for an Academy Award, gives a bravura performance."---From "Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video" by Raymond Murray

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Shaun Blue. Jeter identified his partner in a 1997 TV interview.

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