James Whitmore, the veteran Tony and Emmy winning actor who brought American icons Will Rogers, Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt to life, and who played many memorable film and TV parts in his role as Dean of American character actors, died of lung cancer at his home in Malibu late Friday night. He was 87.
The award winning actor’s career began in 1947 and he received a Tony award that same year for outstanding performance by a newcomer. In 1975, Whitmore’s one man play, “Give ’em Hell Harry,” a dramatization of the life of President Harry Truman, was made into a movie for which he received a best actor Oscar nomination, making him the only actor in movie history to be nominated for a movie with a single cast member.
For younger fans, perhaps his most well known role was that of Brooks Hatlen, the institutionalized prison trustee from “The Shawshank Redemption” in 1994.
James Whitmore is survived by his wife Noreen, sons James Jr. and Dan, eight grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.