Tom Skerritt


Actor
Tom Skerritt

About

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

Biography

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

Notes

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

Biography

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).

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Divided by Hate (1997)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Memory - The Origins of Alien (2019)
Self
Lucky (2017)
A Hologram for the King (2016)
Admissions (2014)
Field of Lost Shoes (2014)
Wings: Sky Force Heroes (2014)
Voice
Ted (2012)
Himself
Ted (2012)
Self
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)
Anderson
Silence Of The North (1981)
Savage Harvest (1981)
Casey
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)
Other

Director (Special)

A Question About Sex (1990)
Director

Cast (Special)

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

Cast (Short)

The Moviemakers (1971)
Himself

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

1962

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

1963

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

1967

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

1970

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

1974

Reteamed with Altman for "Thieves Like Us"

1977

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

1979

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

1983

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

1983

Portrayed Sheriff George Bannerman in "The Dead Zone"

1986

Played Tom Cruise's commander in "Top Gun"

1987

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

1989

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

1990

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

1990

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

1992

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

1992

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

1992

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

1994

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

1997

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

1997

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

1997

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

1998

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

1998

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

1998

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

2000

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

2001

Acted in the Texas feature "Texas Rangers"

2003

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

2004

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

2006

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

2006

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

2010

Cast in period drama "Redemption Road"

2012

Appeared in western drama "Soda Springs"

2012

Had a cameo as himself in raunchy comedy "Ted"

2013

Appeared in romantic comedy "At Middleton"

2014

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

2014

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

2017

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.

Videos

Movie Clip

Steel Magnolias (1989) - 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) - 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) - 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) - 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) - 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) - 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) - 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) - 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) - 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 - 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 - 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 - 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.

Trailer

Family

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

Companions

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

Bibliography

Notes

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