Oct. 19th, 1945
Rochester, New York, USA
John Lithgow's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles2013 - Casting By
2010 - Leap Year
2009 - Confessions of a Shopaholic
2006 - Dreamgirls
2004 - Kinsey
2004 - The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
2003 - Shrek 4-D
2002 - Orange County
2001 - Shrek
2000 - Rugrats in Paris: The Movie - Rugrats II
1998 - A Civil Action
1998 - Homegrown
1994 - Princess Caraboo
1994 - Silent Fall
1994 - A Good Man in Africa
1993 - The Pelican Brief
1993 - Cliffhanger
1992 - Raising Cain
1991 - Ricochet
1991 - L.A. Story
1990 - Memphis Belle
1987 - Harry and the Hendersons
1986 - The Manhattan Project
1985 - Santa Claus: The Movie
1984 - The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension
1984 - 2010: The Year We Make Contact
1984 - Footloose
1983 - Terms of Endearment
1983 - Twilight Zone: The Movie
1982 - The World According to Garp
1981 - Blow Out
1979 - All That Jazz
1978 - The Big Fix
1976 - Obsession
Guest TV Roles
Dr. Oscar Charles
Madman Martinez (Voiced)
HL Mencken (Voiced)
If "born to the theater" has meaning in determining a person's life path, then John Lithgow is a prime example of this truth. Son of a retired actress and a father who was both a theatrical producer and director, he moved frequently as a child while his father founded and managed local and college theaters and Shakespeare festivals throughout the midwest of the United States. Not until he was 16, and his father became head of the McCarter Theater in Princeton New Jersey, did the family settle down.
But for John, the theater was still not a career. He won a scholarship to Harvard University, where he finally caught the acting bug (as well as found a wife, 'Jean Taynton' 1966). Harvard was followed by a Fulbright scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Returning from London, his rigorous dramatic training stood him in good stead, and a distinguished career on Broadway gave him one Tony award for "The Changing Room", a second nomination in (1985) for "Requiem for a Heavyweight", and a third in (1988) for "M. Butterfly".
But with critical acclaim came personal confusion, and in the mid '70s he and his wife divorced (1980). He entered therapy, and in 1982 his life started in a new direction. He received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Roberta Muldoon in The World According to Garp (1982). A second Oscar nomination followed for Terms of Endearment (1983), and he met a UCLA economics professor who became his second wife 'Mary Yeager' (1981 - present). They have two children, Phoebe and Nathan.
Lithgow is also well known for his roles in Footloose (1984) as the Reverend Shaw Moore,
in the Bigfoot-themed family comedy Harry and the Hendersons (1987), and in (1993), starred as the villainous Eric Qualen in the 'Sylvester Stallone' movie Cliffhanger.
As the decade of the '90s came around he found that he was spending too much time on location, and another career move brought him to television in the hugely successful series 3rd Rock from the Sun (1996). This production also played a role in bringing him back together with the son from his first marriage, 'Ian Lithgow', who has a regular role in the series as a dim-witted student.
In September 2009, Lithgow joined the cast of Dexter as Arthur Mitchell, a serial killer and Dexter Morgan's nemesis. He won a Golden Globe Award for this role, and won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor In A Drama Series.
He guest starred on How I Met Your Mother in the role of Barney Stinson's father, Jerry.
- Biography in: "Contemporary Authors". Volume 217, pg. 219-223. Farmington Hills, MI: Gale, 2004.
- He is a registered pastor of Rose Ministries, and has officiated the wedding of his goddaughter.
- Graduated from Harvard University, with a BA in history and literature. Daughter, Phoebe (b. 1982).
- Studied at London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
- Wife Mary is economics professor at UCLA.
- Is member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS).
- Even though his parents were both actors, he was inspired to get into acting by 'Peter Sellers' (qv).
- Graduated from Princeton High School, Princeton, NJ.