Tom Skerritt

Tom Skerritt


Also Known As
M. Borman
Birth Place
Detroit, Michigan, USA
August 25, 1933


Though he had an affinity for playing villains, actor Tom Skerritt was a familiar face to audiences as all-American authority figures - soldier, police officer, father - in prominent features and television series over several decades. After first gaining attention as the irreverent Southern doctor Duke Forrest in Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H" (1970), Skerritt went on to an accomplished care...

Family & Companions

Charlotte Skerritt
Divorced; mother of Skerritt's three older children.
Sue Skerritt
Second wife; married c. 1977; divorced in 1992; operated a bed and breakfast in Seattle.


Skerritt is the author of a play, "The Piano Teacher".

About acting while directing: "One day I was waiting to rehearse a scene with two of the actors and we were waiting for the third actor. I was starting to get impatient, irritated with the guy. Then it dawned on me. I was the third actor." --Tom Skerritt, DAILY NEWS, October 22, 1997


Though he had an affinity for playing villains, actor Tom Skerritt was a familiar face to audiences as all-American authority figures - soldier, police officer, father - in prominent features and television series over several decades. After first gaining attention as the irreverent Southern doctor Duke Forrest in Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H" (1970), Skerritt went on to an accomplished career that was marked with intelligent, penetrating performances. Perhaps most identified with the thoughtful gentleness he brought to his role as Shirley MacLaine's husband in "The Turning Point" (1977), Skerritt went on to score memorable film roles in Ridley Scott's sci-fi film "Alien" (1979), the Tony Scott blockbuster "Top Gun" (1986), and old friend Robert Redford's "A River Runs Through It" (1992). Switching gears to the small screen after years of big screen success, Skerritt starred as the perplexed town sheriff of an odd, fictional community on the hit series "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96), a role that earned him an Emmy Award. After the show was cancelled, Skerritt remained busy with roles on "Huff" (Showtime, 2004-06) and "Brothers and Sisters" (ABC, 2006- ), solidifying his place as one of the most prolific character actors working in Hollywood.

Born on Aug. 25, 1933 in Detroit, MI, Skerritt was raised by his father, Roy, the owner of a small business, and his mother, Helen, a homemaker. Spending his entire youth growing up in the Motor City, he graduated from David Mackenzie High School in 1951. Skerritt heard the call of duty right after high school and spent the next four years of his life in the United States Air Force. By the time he was 21, he had married his first wife and had his first child. Though he tried his hand at acting while attending Wayne State University in Detroit, Skerritt moved across the country to matriculate at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he continued to train as an actor. Spotted while performing in a production of "The Rainmaker," he made his feature debut in "War Hunt" (1962), an independently-made film about the Korean War that was notable for marking the first time both Robert Redford and Sydney Pollack also appeared on screen. That same year, Skerritt made his television debut in the World War II series, "Combat!" (ABC, 1962-67), which led to prolific work in episodic television during the early years of his acting career.

On the small screen, Skerritt landed episodes of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" (CBS, 1962-65), "My Three Sons" (ABC, 1960-1972), "Bonanza" (NBC, 1959-1973) and the "The Fugitive" (ABC, 1963-67), while appearing in longer-running arcs on "Gunsmoke" (CBS, 1955-1975), "Twelve O'Clock High" (ABC, 1964-67), "The FBI" (ABC, 1965-1974) and "The Virginian" (NBC, 1962-1971). Skerritt appeared in one of his first recurring roles on "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Disney" (ABC, 1954-1990). He went on to appear in nine episodes of the series, which aired between 1965 and 1967. Three years later, Skerritt landed his first notable film role in Robert Altman's Korean War comedy "M*A*S*H." (1970). Portraying Capt. Augustus Bedford 'Duke' Forrest in the film, Skerritt's role was reportedly pared down considerably by the irascible director. It did help garner him attention, however, and Skerritt went on to appear in the cult classic "Harold and Maude" (1971) and once again in an Altman project with "Thieves Like Us" (1974). In 1977, Skerritt portrayed Shirley MacLaine's husband, Wayne, in the Academy Award-nominated drama "The Turning Point." Winning his first career accolade for his thoughtful performance in "Point," Skerritt was named Best Supporting Actor by the National Board of Review.

Skerritt next landed the starring role of Dallas, ill-fated captain of the doomed spaceship Nostromo in Ridley Scott's classic sci-fi flick, "Alien" (1979). After meeting his maker in the crawl space of the Nostromo, Skerritt went on to star as Dr. Thomas Ryan in the short-lived, but critically-acclaimed medical drama "Ryan's Four" (ABC, 1983). He followed up by landing a role in his biggest film to date, playing Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf, who helps train Lt. Pete "Maverick" Mitchell (Tom Cruise) in "Top Gun" (1986). Skerritt and the rest of the cast had no idea the film would become the pop cultural phenomenon that it eventually became - aside from inspiring boys to become U.S. Navy fighter pilots, the film catapulted Cruise into the biggest movie star in the world and raised the profile of all involved, including Skerritt, Kelly McGillis, Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer. Skerritt's participation in the hit film would even help land the rugged, mustachioed actor a Guess? Jeans ad campaign. An adept comedic actor, Skerritt surprised fans by appearing in a hilarious recurring role on "Cheers" (NBC, 1982-1993), playing multi-millionaire Evan Drake, love interest of Rebecca Howe (Kirstie Alley), starting in 1988.

Taking up residence behind the camera, Skerritt directed the after-school special, "A Question of Sex" (ABC, 1990), which addressed the topic of teaching birth control in high school. As an actor, Skerritt continued to impress with supporting roles in the films "Steel Magnolias" (1989), "The Rookie" (1990), "Poison Ivy" (1992) and Robert Redford's "A River Runs Through It" (1992). Returning to television as a leading man, Skerritt earned his biggest acclaim with a starring in the Emmy Award-winning "Picket Fences" (CBS, 1992-96), created by David E. Kelly. Portraying Sheriff Jimmy Brock, who struggled to maintain order in the odd community of a fictional Wisconsin town, Skerritt won the Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1993. A high point in Skerritt's career, the series also offered him the opportunity to direct a number of episodes before the series was cancelled in 1996. Moving on, Skerritt went on to direct the television movie "Divided by Hate" (USA, 1997), in which he also starred as a manipulative, neo-Nazi preacher. Returning primarily to acting, Skerritt appeared alongside Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey in the Robert Zemeckis film "Contact" (1997), portrayed an over-protective father in "The Other Sister" (1999), and co-starred opposite Bruce Willis in Antoine Fuqua's "Tears of the Sun" (2003).

Returning to the small screen, Skerritt costarred in "The Grid" (Fox/BBC, 2004), an epic four-part miniseries about British and American anti-terrorism units banding together to root out an al-Qaida cell that perpetrated an attack on London. In 2006, after playing a retired admiral called back to duty after the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in "Homeland Security" (NBC, 2004), Skerritt joined the cast of Showtime's acclaimed drama "Huff" (2004-06), portraying Hank Azaria's neglectful father, Ben Huffstodt. Though the role was originally played by Robert Forster, Skerritt was brought in during the second season to carry on the role. Skerritt also appeared as John Edward Marinville in the Stephen King miniseries "Desperation" (ABC, 2006). In a bit of slight-of-hand, Skerritt appeared in the pilot episode of "Brothers & Sisters" (ABC, 2006-11), playing the patriarch of a family that owns a successful produce distributor who dies from a heart attack. Though killed off in the first episode, Skerritt's character appeared from time to time in flashbacks over the course of the popular show's run. Meanwhile, he co-starred in several made-for-television movies, including "Killer Wave" (ION, 2007), "Vinegar Hill" (CBS, 2008) and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (ION, 2008), which he followed by co-starring opposite Kate Beckinsale in the big screen bomb, "Whiteout" (2009).



Director (Feature Film)

Divided by Hate (1997)

Cast (Feature Film)

Memory - The Origins of Alien (2019)
Lucky (2017)
A Hologram for the King (2016)
Admissions (2014)
Field of Lost Shoes (2014)
Wings: Sky Force Heroes (2014)
Ted (2012)
Ted (2012)
Your Love Never Fails (2011)
Redemption Road (2011)
Whiteout (2009)
The Velveteen Rabbit (2009)
Beer for My Horses (2008)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2008)
Killer Wave (2007)
Bonneville (2007)
Mammoth (2006)
Fallen (2006)
Stephen King's Desperation (2006)
Swing (2004)
Homeland Security (2004)
Tears of the Sun (2003)
Path To War (2002)
Texas Rangers (2001)
High Noon (2000)
Will Kane
An American Daughter (2000)
Walter Abrahmson
The Other Sister (1999)
Two for Texas (1998)
Smoke Signals (1998)
Police Chief
Contact (1997)
Divided by Hate (1997)
Steve Riordan
What the Deaf Man Heard (1997)
Knight Moves (1993)
Frank Sedman
A River Runs Through It (1992)
Hearts On Fire (1992)
Getting Up and Going Home (1992)
Jack Montgomery
Singles (1992)
Poison Ivy (1992)
Darryl Cooper
Wild Orchid 2: Two Shades of Blue (1992)
The China Lake Murders (1990)
Sam Brodie
Child In The Night (1990)
Thurston "T" Bass
I'll Take Romance (1990)
Judge Warren T Danvers
Honor Bound (1990)
The Rookie (1990)
Big Man On Campus (1989)
Dr Webster
Red King, White Knight (1989)
The Heist (1989)
Ebet Berens
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Nightmare At Bittercreek (1988)
Ding Harris
Poltergeist III (1988)
Moving Target (1988)
Maid to Order (1987)
The Big Town (1987)
Poker Alice (1987)
Opposing Force (1986)
Major Logan
Space Camp (1986)
Wisdom (1986)
Lloyd Wisdom
Top Gun (1986)
Miles to Go (1986)
Calendar Girl Murders (1984)
A Touch Of Scandal (1984)
Father Dwelle
The Dead Zone (1983)
A Dangerous Summer (1982)
Silence Of The North (1981)
Savage Harvest (1981)
Alien (1979)
Captain Dallas
Maneaters Are Loose (1978)
John Gosford
Cheech & Chong's Up In Smoke (1978)
Ice Castles (1978)
The Turning Point (1977)
Wayne Rogers
The Last Day (1975)
Bill Powers
The Devil's Rain (1975)
Tom Preston
Big Bad Mama (1974)
Thieves Like Us (1974)
Fuzz (1972)
Det. Bert Kling
Wild Rovers (1971)
John Buckman
Harold and Maude (1971)
Motorcycle officer
The Birdmen (1971)
M*A*S*H (1970)
Duke Forrest
Those Calloways (1965)
Whit Turner
One Man's Way (1964)
Leonard Peale, grown
War Hunt (1962)
Corporal Showalter

Special Thanks (Feature Film)

Magic in the Water (1995)
Special Thanks To

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Ted (2012)

Director (Special)

A Question About Sex (1990)

Cast (Special)

Vinegar Hill (2008)
Robert Redford (2002)
Voyage to Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Mount St. Helen's Fury (2000)
Robert Redford: Hollywood Outlaw (2000)
Into the Wild Blue: The World's Best Flight Teams (1999)
Elizabeth Taylor: The E! True Hollywood Story (1998)
The Second Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards (1996)
Over America (1995)
The Kennedy Center Honors: A Celebration of the Performing Arts (1994)
46th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (1994)
Wyatt Earp: Walk With a Legend (1994)
The American Television Awards (1993)
47th Annual Golden Globes (1989)
On the Edge (1987)
True Believer (1986)
Detective Steven Sheen
A Bell for Adano (1967)

Cast (Short)

The Moviemakers (1971)

Cast (TV Mini-Series)

Category 7: The End of the World (2005)
The Grid (2004)
Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis (2000)
The Hunt For the Unicorn Killer (1999)
Fred Maddux
Aftershock: Earthquake in New York (1999)
Parent Trap II (1986)
Bill Grand
Origins of the Mafia (1974)

Life Events


Made his screen-acting debut in "War Hunt", which was also Robert Redford's feature debut


Made early TV appearances in "Run for Doom" ("The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" NBC) and "Thunder Gap" episode of "Temple Houston" (NBC), starring Jeffrey Hunter


Made his TV-movie debut in "A Bell For Adano", a presentation of "Hallmark Hall of Fame" (NBC)


Had his breakthrough screen role as Duke Forest in Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H"


Reteamed with Altman for "Thieves Like Us"


Portrayed Shirley MacLaine's patient husband in "The Turning Point", directed by Herbert Ross


Played the doomed Captain Dallas in Ridley Scott's "Alien"


Starred in the short-lived ABC series, "Ryan's Four"


Portrayed Sheriff George Bannerman in "The Dead Zone"


Played Tom Cruise's commander in "Top Gun"


Had a recurring role as businessman Evan Drake on the NBC sitcom "Cheers"


Contributed to the background atmosphere as Sally Field's husband in "Steel Magnolias"


Starred in USA Network movie, "The China Lake Murders"


Made directorial debut with "A Question About Sex", an ABC after-school special


Acted the part of the reserved father lured into an affair by his daughter's high school classmate (Drew Barrymore) in "Poison Ivy"


Starred as Sheriff Jimmy Brock in the acclaimed CBS drama series, "Picket Fences", earning an Emmy for his work during the first season


Portrayed the fly-fishing minister patriarch in Redford's "A River Runs Through It", based on Norman MacLean's autobiographical novella


Directed two episodes of "Picket Fences" in 1994 and 1995


Directed first feature-length movie, "Divided by Hate" (USA Network), also acted


Returned to features after a five-year absence in the sci-fi hit "Contact", starring Jodie Foster


Co-starred in the highly rated CBS TV-movie "What the Deaf Man Heard"


Made a cameo appearance as a police chief in Chris Eyre's "Smoke Signals"


Portrayed Sam Houston in TNT movie, "Two For Texas"


Has supporting role in Garry Marshall's "The Other Sister"


Inherited the Gary Cooper role in the TNT small screen remake of "High Noon"


Acted in the Texas feature "Texas Rangers"


Cast in the Navy action feature "Tears of the Sun"


Starred in the miniseries "Homeland Security" and "The Grid"


Had a recurring role as Ben Huffstodt in the Showtime drama "Huff"


Cast as the patriarch in the ABC series, "Brothers & Sisters," who dies in the pilot episode; character is recurring in dreams and memories


Cast in period drama "Redemption Road"


Appeared in western drama "Soda Springs"


Had a cameo as himself in raunchy comedy "Ted"


Appeared in romantic comedy "At Middleton"


Appeared in a pair of episodes of "The Good Wife"


Reprised Captain Dallas role in terrifying video game sequel "Alien: Isolation"


Featured in John Carroll Lynch's directorial debut, "Lucky"

Photo Collections

Alien - Lobby Card Set
Here is a set of Lobby Cards from Fox's Alien (1979), directed by Ridley Scott. Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.


Movie Clip

Steel Magnolias (1989) -- (Movie Clip) Serve Him On Toast Amid bedlam preparing the house for the small-town Louisiana wedding reception for Shelby (Julia Roberts, not seen here), the first scene for Shirley MacLaine as nutty neighbor Ouizer, enraged with father-of-the-bride Tom Skerritt, who’s frightened her dog by using gunshots to scare away birds, early in Steel Magnolias, 1989, from Robert Harling’s play.
Steel Magnolias (1989) -- (Movie Clip) Dearly Beloved About 30 minutes in, the Louisiana wedding of Julia Roberts as Shelby (the credited singer is Gale. J. Odom), Sally Field her mom, Shirley MacLaine as cranky Ouizer, Dolly Parton as stylist Truvy, Olympia Dukakis the widow Belcher, Tom Skerritt the father, his hearing compromised by earlier efforts to scare off birds, and Dylan McDermott the groom, in Steel Magnolias, 1989.
Steel Magnolias (1989) -- (Movie Clip) My Colors Are Blush And Bashful The first ensemble scene in the Louisiana hair salon (where Robert Harling’s whole original play took place), on the day of the wedding of Julia Roberts (as Shelby), Sally Field her mother, Dolly Parton the proprietor Truvy, Daryl Hannah the new gal Annelle, Olympia Dukakis the widow Belcher, Herbert Ross directing, in Steel Magnolias, 1989.
M*A*S*H (1970) -- (Movie Clip) And Then There Was Korea Immediately after the opening, a graphic citing General MacArthur and the introduction of Donald Sutherland as Hawkeye, encountering a testy sergeant (Jerry Jones) then meeting his fellow new surgeon Duke (Tom Skerritt), from director Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, 1970.
M*A*S*H (1970) -- (Movie Clip) Scratch My Nose Radar (Gary Burghoff) conducts new Korean War surgeons Hawkeye (Donald Sutherland) and Duke (Tom Skerritt) to their tent, meeting colleague Frank Burns (Robert Duvall) and local Ho-Jon (Kim Atwood), before director Robert Altman’s first operating room scene, in M*A*S*H, 1970.
M*A*S*H (1970) -- (Movie Clip) It Worked For Hitler And Eva Braun Trapper (Elliott Gould) and Hawkeye (Donald Sutherland) et al discuss dentist Waldowski (John Schuck), who’s contemplating suicide because he thinks he’s a latent homosexual, improvising a counter-measure in which Father Mulcahy (Rene Auberjonois) is reluctant to assist, in M*A*S*H, 1970.
M*A*S*H (1970) -- (Movie Clip) Open, Suicide Is Painless The opening from Robert Altman, including the rarely-heard lyric from the song, which became the TV title theme, which made writer Mike Altman (the director’s son) rich, and a brief introduction of Colonel Blake (Roger Bowen) and Radar (Gary Burghoff), from M*A*S*H, 1970,
River Runs Through It, A (1992) -- (Movie Clip) The Body Fuels The Mind 1926, returning to Montana after six years at Dartmouth, Norman Maclean (Craig Sheffer) with his minister father (Tom Skerritt), then brother Paul (Brad Pitt), now a reporter in Helena, in director Robert Redford’s A River Runs Through It, 1992, from Maclean’s semi-autobiographical novella.
War Hunt (1962) -- (Movie Clip) Never Lost A War Yet Replacement Loomis (Robert Redford) meets Sergeant Van Horn (Sydney Pollack), then chats with Crotty (Gavin MacLeod), Showalter (Tom Skerritt) and Fresno (Tony Ray), early in War Hunt, 1962.
Big Bad Mama -- (Movie Clip) Mama's Lunches In which Wilma (Angie Dickinson), Billy Jean (Susan Sennett), and Polly (Robbie Lee), (wearing jeans in "1930-something"), with Fred (Tom Skerritt), pull a job, from the Roger Corman-produced Big Bad Mama, 1974.
Big Bad Mama -- (Movie Clip) I Love California! Wilma (Angie Dickinson), Baxter (William Shatner), the girls (Susan Sennett, Robbie Lee) and Fred (Tom Skerritt) arrive in California, meet an orange grower and plan another job, in Big Bad Mama, 1974.
Big Bad Mama -- (Movie Clip) Open, Paradise Texas Straight out of the gate, arguing principals Wilma (Angie Dickinson), Polly (Robbie Lee) and Billy Jean (Susan Sennett) into opening credits for director Steve Carver's Big Bad Mama, 1974.



Roy Skerritt
Helen Skerritt
Andy Skerritt
Screenwriter. Born c. 1962; mother, Charlotte Skerritt.
Erin Skerritt
Homemaker. Born c. 1964; mother, Charlotte Skerritt.
Matt Skerritt
Actor. Born c. 1969; mother, Charlotte Skerritt; acted in "Dogfight" (1991).
Colin Skerritt
Born c. 1978; mother, Sue Skerritt.


Charlotte Skerritt
Divorced; mother of Skerritt's three older children.
Sue Skerritt
Second wife; married c. 1977; divorced in 1992; operated a bed and breakfast in Seattle.



Skerritt is the author of a play, "The Piano Teacher".

About acting while directing: "One day I was waiting to rehearse a scene with two of the actors and we were waiting for the third actor. I was starting to get impatient, irritated with the guy. Then it dawned on me. I was the third actor." --Tom Skerritt, DAILY NEWS, October 22, 1997