Saturday, February 07, 2009

RIP James Whitmore (1921-2009)

RIP James Whitmore (1921-2009)

Tony Award-winning acting great James Whitmore has died at the age of 87.

Long before Will Ferrell began impersonating U.S. Presidents, Whitmore took on two of America's best loved chief executives: Teddy Roosevelt in Bully (Broadway and film, 1977) and Harry S. Truman in "Give 'Em Hell Harry" (film, 1975), earning one of his two Academy Award nominations for the latter.

With a penchant for portraying historical characters, Whitmore also performed in the title roles in Will Rogers' USA (Broadway, 1974) and "The Adventures of Mark Twain" (animated film, 1986).

But it was his 1947-48 Rialto role in Command Decision as Tech Sergeant Harold Evans that Whitmore earned his one and only Tony Award as Best Newcomer.

Although I regret never having had the opportunity to see this distinguished actor live on stage, I was a fan ever since his early 70s television stint as Dr. Vincent Campanelli in the comedy "Temperatures Rising." But it was his turn as cowboy-friendly farmer Andrew Carnes in the 1955 film version of Oklahoma! for which I'll remember him best.

Rest in peace, James Whitmore.

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

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