Jack Lemmon

Lemmon, Jack (John Uhler Lemmon 3d), 1925–2001, American actor, b. Newton, Mass., grad. Harvard (1947). He became famous in roles ranging from sardonic comedy to compelling drama, ultimately achieving the status of a kind of modern American Everyman, often hapless yet persevering. A talented piano player, he worked as a musician and acted in late 1940s and early 50s radio, television, and stage productions. He soon moved on to Hollywood, making his first film in 1954 and attracting wide attention as the likably brash Ensign Pulver in Mister Roberts (1955; Academy Award). His other early comedies include Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1950) and The Apartment (1960). In 1962, Lemmon starred as an anguished alcoholic in his first movie drama, the harrowing Days of Wine and Roses. During his career, Lemmon appeared in more than 60 movies, among them The Odd Couple (1968) and its sequel (1998), Save the Tiger (1973; Academy Award), The China Syndrome (1979), Tribute (1980), Missing (1982), JFK (1991), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), and Grumpy Old Men (1993) and its sequel (1995). He also continued to act on stage and television, e.g., in Long Day's Journey into Night (1986–87) and the Emmy-winning Tuesdays with Morrie (1999).

See biographies by M. Freedland (1985) and D. Widener (rev. ed. 2000); J. Baltake, Jack Lemmon: His Films and Career (rev. ed. 1986).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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