Save the Tiger
“I won’t quit until I get run over by a truck, a producer or a critic.” Jack Lemmon
Deceased American actor Jack Lemmon (born in 1925, died in 2001) won two Academy Awards for his performances in John Avildsen’s Save the Tiger (1973) and the war-comedy Mister Roberts (1955). He also received two Oscar nominations for his remarkable roles as C.C. Baxter in The Apartment (1961) and Joe Clay in Days of Wine and Roses (1963).
On the small screen, Lemmon achieved popularity after taking home a Screen Actors Guild award for playing the title character in Oprah’s TV film production Tuesdays with Morrie (1999). He earned additional attention with his Emmy-nominated performances in The Entertainer (1976), 12 Angry Men (1998) and Inherit the Wind (1999).
Off screen, the actor, who was voted one of Empire magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” (1997), had been married twice. He was married to actresses Cynthia Boyd Stone from 1950 to 1956 and Felicia Farr from 1962 until his death. From his marriages, Lemmon was the father of son Chris Lemmon (actor, mother: Cynthia Boyd Stone) and daughter Courtney Lemmon (mother: Felicia Farr).
John Uhler Lemmon III
Childhood and Family:
In an elevator at a hospital in Newton, Massachusetts, John Uhler Lemmon III, who would later be famous as Jack Lemmon, was born on February 8, 1925, to the president of Doughnut Corporation of America, John Uhler Lemmon Jr., and Mildred LaRue Lemmon.
Jack, who showed an interest in acting at an early age, attended Rivers County School in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and continued his studies at the Phillips Andover Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. After he graduating in 1943, Jack attended Harvard University, where he was the president of the university’s drama club, Hasty Pudding. Four years later, he finished his studies and joined the Naval Reserve, serving as the communications officer on the USS Lake Champlain. After his service with the Navy, he worked as piano player in a beer hall.
Jack was married twice. On May 7, 1950, he was married to actress Cynthia Boyd Stone, but the couple divorced in 1956. Jack and Cynthia shared a son named Chris Lemmon (born on January 22, 1954), who later followed in his father’s footstep and became an actor. Jack then married actress Felicia Farr on August 17, 1962, during the making of Irma La Douce (1963). The couple had a daughter named Courtney Lemmon (born in 1966) who runs a charity foundation established by Jack Lemmon. From his son, Chris, Jack had a grandson named Christopher Boyd Lemmon, who was born on April 3, 1994.
On June 27, 2001, at USC/Norris Cancer Center in Los Angeles, California, Jack died at age 76 of cancer complications. His wife and children were at his bedside during his final hours.
The Odd Couple
4-year-old Jack Lemmon first appeared on stage when his father put him in an amateur production of “Gold in Them Thar Hills.” After being dismissed from the Navy, he pursued his passion in showbiz and made his TV debut with a guest appearance in the TV series “Suspense” (1949). He continued to appear on television with small roles in numerous soap operas and series, including “Toni Twin Time” (1950), “Pulitzer Prize Playhouse” (1951), “Heaven for Betsy” (1952) and “Campbell Playhouse” (1953). In 1953, he debuted on Broadway with the production of “Room Service” (1953), wherein he was cast as Leo Davis. His talent caught the attention of Columbia who soon offered him a deal to play a role in a big screen project. After signing the contract, Lemmon began his movie career by playing the supporting role of filmmaker Pete Sheppard, opposite Judy Holliday, in George Cukor’s It Should Happen to You (1954). He followed it up with another supporting turn as Robert Tracey, Judy Holliday’s husband, in Phffft! (1954).
In between small roles in TV series like “The Ford Television Theatre” (1954), “Ford Star Jubilee” (1956) and “Zane Grey Theater” (1957), Lemmon played a supporting role in Three for the Show (1955, as Marty Stewart) and had a significant supporting turn in Mister Roberts (1955). For his superb performance in the latter film, he won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor and earned a BAFTA nomination for Best Foreign Actor.
After his award-winning performance, Lemmon was seen in My Sister Eileen (1955, as Robert ‘Bob’ Baker), You Can’t Run Away from It (1956, as Peter Warne), Fire Down Below (1957, playing Tony) and Cowboy (1958, costarring as Frank Harris). Lemmon also began to acquire bigger parts on the small screen and was seen in the drama series “Goodyear Theatre” (1957-1958) and “Alcoa Theatre” (1957-1958). In 1958, he gave a fine turn as Nicky Holroyd in the movie Bell Book and Candle (1958), a role that won him a starring role as Jerry/Daphne in Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959). Delivering a notable portrayal as a band member forced to dress like a woman, Lemmon won a Golden Globe for Best Actor (Comedy or Musical) as well as a British Film Academy award for Best Foreign Actor. The role also gave him another Oscar nomination.
Following his starring role as George Denham in It Happened to Jane (1959), the actor had another victory in his hands when he rejoined director Billy Wilder for The Apartment (1960), portraying C.C. ‘Bud’ Baxter. As an unlucky clerk who loaned his apartment to his superiors in the attempt of getting a job promotion, Lemmon was so impressive that he took home a second Golden Globe for Best Actor (Comedy or Musical) and a British Film Academy for Best Foreign Actor. He also received another nomination at the Oscars.
1960 saw Lemmon perform on Broadway in a production of “Face of a Hero.” That same year, he narrated the movie Le Voyage en Ballon, had a cameo role in Pepe and starred as Lt. Rip Crandall in The Wackiest Ship in the Army. He then played William Gridley in The Notorious Landlady before offering a bravura starring turn as an alcoholic husband named Joe Clay in Blake Edwards’ Days of Wine and Roses (both in 1962). For his efforts in the drama film, he earned an Academy Award and Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor, in addition to a BAFTA nomination for Best Foreign Actor.
In the subsequent years, Lemmon received more recognition. He nabbed Golden Globe nominations for his unforgettable performances in Irma la Douce (1963, played Nestor Patou/Lord X) and Under the Yum Yum Tree (1963, as Mr. Hogan). He also earned BAFTA nominations after skillfully portraying Sam Bissel in Good Neighbor Sam (1964) and Stanley Ford in Richard Quine’s How to Murder Your Wife (1965). The next Golden Globe nomination came for his comic role of Professor Fate/Prince Hapnik in Blake Edwards’ The Great Race (1965).
Next up for Lemmon, he had roles in Billy Wilder’s The Fortune Cookie (1966, opposite Walter Matthau), Luv (1967) and There Comes a Day (1968), before taking the off-camera position as an executive-producer for “Cool Hand Luke” (1967), starring Paul Newman. Returning to acting, he continued his collaboration with Walter Matthau in Gene Saks’ screen adaptation of Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple (1968), wherein his performance as Felix Ungar gave him not only further popularity, but also a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. Lemmon’s turn in The April Fools (1969) and The Out-of-Towners (1970) led him to his directorial debut, Kotch (1971), starring his friend Walter Matthau and his second wife Felicia Farr. In the drama-comedy Kotch, he also appeared as the sleeping bus passenger.
The charismatic actor once again attracted public attention when Wilder cast him in the starring role of Wendell Armbruster, Jr. in the crisis comedy Avanti (1972). Due to his good acting, Lemmon was handed a Golden Globe for Best Actor. The same year, he also played Peter Edward Wilson in The War Between Men and Women. In 1973, Lemmon delivered the starring role of Harry Stoner, opposite Jack Gilford, in John Avildsen’s Save the Tiger. His captivating dramatic turn as a struggling dress manufacturer garnered him his second Oscar, this time for Best Actor, as well as brought him a Golden Globe nomination.
After his turn as the narrator in La Polizia ha le mani legate (1974), Lemmon amazed fans again when he took the Golden Globe-nominated role of Hildebrand ‘Hildy’ Johnson in The Front Page (1974). After playing roles in Wednesday (1975) and The Prisoner of Second Avenue (1975), the multi-talented actor resurfaced on the small screen and earned an Emmy nomination for the part of Archie Rice in the made-for-TV version of John Osborne’s The Entertainer (1976). Following his starring turn as Capt. Don Gallagher in Airport ‘77 (1977), Lemmon returned to Broadway and received his first Tony nomination after playing Scottie Templeton in “Tribute” (1978).
He then starred as a nuclear plant executive refusing to participate in an accident cover-up, alongside Michael Douglas and Jane Fonda, in the movie The China Syndrome (1979) and was so outstanding that he picked up a Cannes Film Festival and a BAFTA for Best Actor, as well as earned a Golden Globe nomination. The next year, he reprised his role of Scottie Templeton in the wide screen version of Tribute and co-wrote the theme song “It’s All for the Best” with Alan Jay Lerner. This revival won him a Berlin Film Festival award for Best Actor and a Genie award for Best Foreign Actor, in addition to a Golden Globe nomination.
Amid his big screen success, Lemmon continued to appear on the small screen by taking parts in such TV films as Musical Comedy Tonight II (1981) and Stars Over Texas (1982). He further established his reputation as a silver screen icon by winning a Cannes Film Festival for Best Actor for his starring turn as Ed Horman, a conservative father in search of his lost journalist son, in Costa-Gravas’ drama-thriller Missing (1982). Lemmon also offered notable turns as Father Tim Farley in Mass Appeal (1984), Robert Traven in Maccheroni (1985), and Harvey Fairchild in Blake Edwards’ That’s Life (1986), in which his convincing portrayal of a depressed 60-year-old man in the latter film brought him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor. He acquired his second Tony nomination for the Broadway production of Eugene O’Neill’s “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” (1986), playing James Tyrone, Sr., Kevin Spacey’s father. He reprised his role on the small screen version of the play in 1987 and gained a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor.
Lemmon kept on delivering prize-winning roles both on the small screen and large screen. He collected Golden Globe nominations by playing roles in movies like The Murder of Mary Phagan (1988, TV, as Gov. John Slaton) and Dad (1989, starring as Jake Tremont). After taking the supporting role of Jack Martin in Oliver Stone’s JFK (1991), Lemmon starred as salesman Shelley Levene, who was forced to commit a robbery, in James Foley’s Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), in which his excellent acting won a National Board of Review and a Venice Film Festival for Best Actor. He was then seen as Paul Finnigan, opposite Andie MacDowell and Bruce Davison, in Robert Altman’s drama Short Cuts (1993), in which he netted a 1994 Golden Globe for Best Ensemble Cast. He received another Golden Globe nomination for his leading role in Gregory Mosher’s made-for-TV drama A Life in the Theater (1993), which was followed by his reunion with Walter Matthau in the highly successful Grumpy Old Men (1993) and Grumpier Old Men (1995). After taking the leading role of President Russell P. Kramer in Peter Segal’s adventure-comedy My Fellow Americans (1996), Lemmon provided an exceptional portrayal of a juror in the TV film 12 Angry Men (1997). For his fine portrayal, he received an Emmy, a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild nomination for Best Actor.
After having his last costarring role with Walter Matthau in the sequel of The Odd Couple, the Howard Deutch-helmed The Odd Couple II (1998), Lemmon was cast as lawyer Henry Drummond in Daniel Petrie’s revival Inherit the Wind (1999, TV), a role that brought him an Emmy nomination for Best Actor. By the end of 1999, Lemmon was seen as Morrie Schwartz in the made-for-TV Tuesdays with Morrie (1999). In the film executive-produced by Oprah Winfrey, Lemmon astonishingly portrayed a retired teacher suffering from Lou Gehrig’s disease and garnered a Screen Actors Guild award for Best Male Actor (Television, Movie or Miniseries) as well as a Golden Globe nomination.
Before his death, the gifted actor took an unaccredited part as the narrator in Robert Redford’s The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000). The film also featured Will Smith, Matt Damon, and Charlize Theron.