Lemmon, Jack

views updated May 14 2018


Nationality: American. Born: John Uhler Lemmon III in Boston, 8 February 1925. Education: Attended Rivers Country Day School, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts; Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts, graduated 1943; Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, B.A. and B.S., 1947; studied acting in New York with Uta Hagen. Military Service: Served as communications officer in Naval Reserve, 1945. Family: Married 1) the actress Cynthia Stone, 1950 (divorced 1956), son: actor Christopher (Chris) Lemmon; 2) the actress Felicia Farr, 1962, daughter: Courtney. Career: After graduating from Harvard, worked as a piano player at the Old Nick saloon in New York, 1948; worked as an actor in radio soap opera; was producer and actor in several TV series: That Wonderful Guy, 1949–50, The Couple Next Door, 1950, The Ad-Libbers, 1951, and Heaven for Betsy, 1952, all with Cynthia Stone; made Broadway debut in Room Service, 1953; signed a contract with Columbia Pictures, 1953; made film debut in It Should Happen to You, 1954; was a regular on TV series Alcoa Theatre, 1957–58; appeared on Broadway in Face of a Hero, 1958; directed the film Kotch, 1971; narrated the The Wild West TV mini-series, 1993. Awards: Best Supporting Actor Academy Award, for Mister Roberts, 1955; Best Foreign Actor British Academy Award, Best Motion Picture Actor-Musical/Comedy Golden Globe, for Some Like It Hot, 1959, Best Foreign Actor British Academy Award, Best Motion Picture Actor-Musical/Comedy Golden Globe, for The Apartment, 1960; Best Actor San Sebastian International Film Festival, for Days of Wine and Roses, 1962; Best Motion Picture Actor-Musical/Comedy Golden Globe, for Avanti!, 1972; Best Actor Academy Award, for Save the Tiger, 1973; Best Actor British Academy Award, Cannes Film Festival Best Actor, for The China Syndrome, 1979; Berlin Film Festival Best Actor, Best Foreign Actor Genie Award, for Tribute, 1981; Cannes Film Festival Best Actor, for Missing, 1982; National Board of Review Career Achievement Award, 1986; American Film Institute Life Achievement Award, 1988; Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement Award, 1990; American Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award, 1991; Cecil B. DeMille Golden Globe, 1991; National Board of Review Best Actor, Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actor, for Glengarry Glen Ross, 1992; Venice Film Festival Violpi Cup for Best Ensemble Cast, for Short Cuts, 1993; Berlin Film Festival Honorary Golden Bear, 1996; Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries Screen Actors Guild Award, for Tuesdays with Morrie, 1999; Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV Golden Globe, for Inherit the Wind, 1999; Hollywood Film Festival Lifetime Achievement Award, 1999. Agent: Jalem Productions, 141 El Camino, Suite 201, Beverly Hills, CA 90212, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


It Should Happen to You (Cukor) (as Pete Sheppard); Phffft! (Robson) (as Robert Tracy)


Three for the Show (Potter) (as Marty Stewart); Mister Roberts (Ford and LeRoy) (as Ensign Pulver); My Sister Eileen (Quine) (as Bob Baker)


You Can't Run Away from It (Powell) (as Peter Warne)


Fire Down Below (Parrish) (as Tony); Operation Mad Ball (Quine) (as Pvt. Hogan)


Cowboy (Daves) (as Frank Harris); Bell, Book and Candle (Quine) (as Nicky Holroyd)


Some Like It Hot (Wilder) (as Jerry/Daphne); It Happened to Jane (Quine) (as George Denham)


The Apartment (Wilder) (as Baxter); Pepe (Sidney) (as himself)


The Wackiest Ship in the Army (Murphy) (as Lt. Rip Crandall)


Stowaway in the Sky (Lamorisse) (as narrator); The Notorious Landlady (Quine) (as William Gridley); Days of Wine and Roses (Edwards) (as Joe)


Irma la Douce (Wilder) (as Nestor); Under the Yum-Yum Tree (Swift) (as Hogan)


Good Neighbor Sam (Swift) (as Sam Bissel)


How to Murder Your Wife (Quine) (as Stanley Ford); The Great Race (as Prof. Fate) (Edwards)


The Fortune Cookie (Wilder) (as Harry Hinkle)


Luv (Donner) (as Harry Berlin)


The Odd Couple (Saks) (as Felix Ungar)


The April Fools (Rosenberg) (as Howard Brubaker)


The Out-of-Towners (Hiller) (as George Kellerman)


The War Between Men and Women (Shavelson) (as Peter Wilson); Avanti! (Wilder) (as Wendell Armbruster)


Save the Tiger (Avildsen) (as Harry Stoner)


Wednesday (Kupfer); The Front Page (Wilder) (as Hildy Johnson)


The Prisoner of Second Avenue (Frank) (as Mel)


The Entertainer (Wrye—for TV) (as Archie Rice); Alex and the Gypsy (Korty) (as Alexander Main)


Airport '77 (Jameson) (as Don Gallagher)


The China Syndrome (Bridges) (as Jack Godell)


Tribute (Clark) (as Scottie Templeton)


Buddy Buddy (Wilder) (as Victor Clooney)


Missing (Costa-Gavras) (as Ed Horman)


Mass Appeal (Glenn Jordan) (as Father Tim Farley); Macaroni (Scola) (as Robert)


That's Life (Edwards) (as Harvey Fairchild)


Long Day's Journey into Night (Miller—for TV)


The Murder of Mary Phagan (Hale—for TV) (as Gov. John Staton)


Dad (Goldberg) (as Jake Tremont)


JFK (Stone) (as Jack Martin)


Glengarry Glen Ross (Foley) (as Shelley Levine); The Player (Altman) (as himself); For Richer, for Poorer (Sandrich—for TV) (as Aram Katourian)


A Life in the Theater (Mosher—for TV) (as Robert); Short Cuts (Altman) (as Paul Finnigan); Grumpy Old Men (Petrie) (as John Gustafson); Earth and the American Dream (Couturie (doc) (voice only); Luck, Trust & Ketchup: Robert Altman In Carver Country (Dorr, Kaplan) (doc) (as Interviewee)


The Grass Harp (Charles Matthau) (as Morris Ritz); Grumpier Old Men (Deutch) (as John Gustafson); Getting Away with Murder (Harvey Miller) (as Max Mueller/Luger)


Hamlet (Branagh) (as Marcellus); A Weekend in the Country (Bregman—for TV) (as Bud Bailey); My Fellow Americans (Segal) (as Russell P. Kramer)


Puppies for Sale (Krauss); Out to Sea (Coolidge) (as Herb Sullivan); 12 Angry Men (Friedkin—for TV) (as Juror #8)


The Long Way Home (Jordan—for TV) (as Tom Gerrin); The Odd Couple II (Deutch) (as Felix Ungar)


Inherit the Wind (Petrie—for TV) (as Henry Drummond); Tuesdays with Morrie (Jackson—for TV) (as Morrie Schwartz); Forever Hollywood (Glassman, McCarthy) (doc) (as himself)


The Legend of Bagger Vance (Redford) (as Hardy Greaves)

Film as Director:


Kotch (+ ro as stranger on bus)


By LEMMON: articles—

"Such Fun to Be Funny," in Films and Filming (London), November 1960.

"Interview: Jack Lemmon," in Playboy (Chicago), May 1964.

"I Never Had a Better Experience in My Professional Life," interview with B. Thomas, in Action (Los Angeles), January-February 1972.

Interview with S. Greenberg, in Film Comment (New York), May-June 1973.

"Dialogue on Film: Jack Lemmon," interview in American Film (Washington, D.C.), September 1982.

Interview, in Films and Filming (London), December 1984 and January 1985.

Interview with Gary Crowdus and Dan Georgakas, in Cineaste (New York), vol. 14, no. 3, 1986.

"Jack of All Trades," interview with Burt Prelutsky, in American Film (New York), March 1988.

Interview in Talking Films: The Best of the Guardian Film Lectures, edited by Andrew Britton, London, 1991.

"Saint Jack," interview with Michael Wilmington, in Film Comment (New York), March-April 1993.

"Kids!" interview with Henry Cabot Beck, in Interview, January 1996.

On LEMMON: books—

Widenen, Don, Lemmon: A Biography, New York, 1975.

Baltake, Joe, The Films of Jack Lemmon, Secaucus, New Jersey, 1977; rev. ed., 1986.

Freedland, Michael, Jack Lemmon, London, 1985.

On LEMMON: articles—

Baltake, Joe, "Jack Lemmon," in Films in Review (New York), January 1970.

Eyles, A., "Jack Lemmon," in Focus on Film (London), Spring 1972.

Crist, Judith, "Jack Lemmon," in The Movie Star, edited by Elisabeth Weis, New York, 1981.

Wood, Michael, "In Search of Missing," in American Film (Washington, D.C.), March 1982.

Cieutat, Michel, "Jack Lemmon, un Arlequin d'Amérique," in Positif (Paris), September 1983.

Buckley, Michael, "Jack Lemmon," in Films in Review (New York), December 1984, January and February 1985.

Current Biography 1988, New York, 1988.

Junod, Tom, and Michael O'Neill, "Laughing on the Outside," in Life, October 1992.

Mitchell, Sean, "A Slice of Lemmon," in Premiere (New York), November 1992.

Medhurst, Andy & Gray, Louise, "Odd Man Out: Grumpy Old Men," in Sight & Sound (London), June 1994.

Collins, K., "Laudable Lemmon," in EPD Film (Frankfurt/Main), 12–18 February 1996.

Brandlmeier, Thomas, "Die Berlinale als Verleger: Wyler, Kazan, Lemmon," in EPD Film (Franfurt/Main), June 1996.

Parkinson, David, "A Grumpy Old Couple," in Radio Times (London), 3 May 1997.

* * *

In Jack Lemmon's special brand of comedy, he spotlights the futility of the well-brought-up and well-intentioned male who flounders in a society rife with corruption and hypocrisy. His characters can triumph only when they develop a stronger sense of self, and take stands against those who abuse them. The flip side of this marvelous actor is that he is equally adept at playing dramatic roles. He is at his finest when cast as characters who either are sadly and tragically deluded, or are complacent, average Americans who become radicalized by events that shatter their value systems.

As a younger movie star, Lemmon's best roles were as characters who moved from states of innocence to states of awareness through painful, if often humorous, experience. This type of character development highlighted Lemmon's nuances of gesture and facial expressions to their best advantage, as the characters endured bafflement and disorientation in their brave attempts to understand their world. In Mr. Roberts, Lemmon's Ensign Pulver starts out a comical wheelerdealer, a jester-schemer who is far more adept at talking than functioning. But upon hearing of the death of the title character, who had been in conflict with his ship's martinet captain, Pulver's face and entire form are energized as he defiantly throws the captain's sacred palm tree overboard. Through most of The Apartment (in which Lemmon, as he often was in the initial phases of his career, is directed by Billy Wilder), his character, C. C. Baxter, is caught in a web of petty corporate corruption. In order to curry favor with his superiors, Baxter lends them his apartment for their overnight trysts, resulting in habitual inconvenience and many a sleepless night. Finally, having fallen in love with his boss's mistress, Baxter regains his dignity and quits his job. Lemmon plays this spineless organization man to perfection, making his transformation all the more impressive. Few viewers can resist the moment when Baxter thrusts out his formerly weak chin and tells his boss what he can do with the job and his key to the executive washroom.

Lemmon's other great early career comic performance came in a classic concoction meant strictly for laughs, Some Like It Hot, in which he and Tony Curtis dress in drag and join an all-girl band after accidentally witnessing the St. Valentine's Day Massacre. In 1966, still barely over a quarter-way through his career, Lemmon was paired with Walter Matthau in The Fortune Cookie, an inspired teaming which has continued through various other films well into the 1990s. Lemmon and Matthau are at their best when playing polar opposites who find themselves united by happenstance. They have never been funnier than in The Odd Couple, in which both actors' comic abilities are exploited to the extreme with Lemmon as the neurotically obsessive neatnik Felix Ungar and Matthau as the glorious slob Oscar Madison.

In Lemmon's initial noteworthy roles, he was called upon to be a comic actor. But as his career progressed, he displayed his flip side as a superb dramatic actor-tragedian. His first great dramatic role is Joe, the pathetic alcoholic, in Days of Wine and Roses. In Save the Tiger, he brilliantly plays another miserable creature, Harry Stoner, a dress manufacturer who (like so many of his comic characters) has lost his innocence. But in so doing, he has become a weaker rather than stronger man as he shrugs his shoulders and submits to the daily acts of degradation he feels are necessary to his survival in the business world. Lemmon plays a variation on this character in Glengarry Glen Ross, David Mamet's emotionally gripping adaptation of his stage play, in which Lemmon gives what is perhaps his most riveting late-career screen performance as real estate salesman Shelley "The Machine" Levine. As with Willy Loman in Death of a Salesman—and Harry Stoner in Save the Tiger—Levine is an aging, desperate man. He will say anything and do anything to get the good leads that will allow him an audience for his tired sales pitches. Levine is all sweat and angst beneath his superficially friendly handshake, and Lemmon plays him with a master touch.

The actor has also played more sympathetic dramatic characters. He commands the screen in two overtly political dramas in which his characters undergo catharses similar to the ones experienced by his more comic alter-egos. In The China Syndrome, Lemmon plays nuclear power plant worker Jack Godell, a loyal company man who is transformed upon realizing that the authorities have failed to deal with the causes of an accidental meltdown at his plant. In Missing, he is conservative American businessman Ed Horman, who becomes radicalized upon the disappearance of his son in a Latin American country, and by his realization of America's squalid complicity in the country's repressive policies.

As Lemmon's career entered its fifth decade, the actor made a brief but memorable appearance in The Grass Harp, directed by Charles (son of Walter) Matthau. Here, he plays just the type of character who might have been his nemesis in The Apartment: a slick, scheming entrepreneur-shyster who entices and then cons a narrow-minded, naive small-town businesswoman. He is especially fine in his poignant vignette in Short Cuts, playing a character who has forgotten how to feel: a father, estranged for many years from his son, who reenters the latter's life from out of nowhere—and who does not even know his own grandson's name. Another excellent starring role came in A Life in the Theater, a television movie which, like Glengarry Glen Ross, is based on a David Mamet play. Lemmon plays Robert, an older actor who has devoted his life to the stage; in fact, to him, life is the theater. He and a younger actor are seen rehearsing, performing, and forever discussing and arguing about the craft of acting during a season of repertory plays. Primarily, A Life in the Theater serves as a showcase for Lemmon, who offers a canny, knowing performance as Robert—yet one more in a seemingly unending line of colorful, memorable characterizations.

Not all of Lemmon's late-career roles have been serious and dramatic. In 1993, he was re-teamed with old pal Walter Matthau in Grumpy Old Men. The two were cast as senior citizen variations of The Odd Couple's Oscar and Felix: lifelong pals who endlessly and comically feud. The film's success led to a by-the-numbers sequel, Grumpier Old Men, the inanely comic Out to Sea, and the distressingly unnecessary and unfunny Odd Couple II. Particularly in the latter, the actors are game—but their act is tired. Lemmon fared a bit better when paired with fellow senior actor James Garner in the comedy My Fellow Americans, with both cast as former American presidents who despise each other but must work together to foil a nefarious scheme.

Lemmon's most important late-1990s credits are a trio of high-profile made-for-TV movies: projects that are too intelligent and literate for Hollywood to make into theatrical features. In 12 Angry Men, Inherit the Wind, and Tuesdays with Morrie, the actor offers sterling performances. And as he has aged, he has come to be viewed as an American treasure, an actor's actor who is beloved by his peers. In 1998, Lemmon earned a Golden Globe nomination for 12 Angry Men, but was bested for the prize by Ving Rhames (for his performance in Don King: Only in America). While accepting his award, Rhames respectfully called Lemmon to the stage and all but handed over his trophy. Then Kevin Spacey, upon winning his Best Actor Academy Award for 1999's American Beauty, paid special, heartfelt tribute to Lemmon in his acceptance speech.

—Rodney Farnsworth, updated by Rob Edelman

Jack Lemmon

views updated Jun 11 2018

Jack Lemmon

For more than four decades, whether working in comedy or tragedy, actor Jack Lemmon (1925-2001) epitomized the joys and travails of Americans in the latter half of the 20th century. Noted as one of the most versatile U.S. film actors of his generation, Lemmon gave numerous memorable performances in theater, film, and television, greatly influencing a later generation of actors.

Actor Jack Lemmon was born in the Boston suburb of Newton, Massachusetts, on February 8, 1925— legend has it that he was actually born in the hospital elevator. The son of a successful businessman, Lemmon grew up under the expectation that he would follow his father into the bakery business. He was educated at Andover Academy and by the time he graduated from Harvard University he was thoroughly bitten by the acting bug, having acted in summer stock and in some of Harvard's Hasty Pudding productions. In a 1990 interview in the Independent Mark Steyn quoted Lemmon's account of how he broke the news of his aspiration to be an actor to his father after graduating from Harvard University in 1947: "'Pop, can you lend me 300 bucks so I can go to New York and see if I can get in the theatre?' He said, 'Eugh—acting. Do you really love it?' I said I did, and he said, 'Okay, good. Because when the day comes that I don't find romance in a loaf of bread, I'll quit.' Boy, that came in handy during the terrible dry periods. Then I remembered, well, I do love it, like he loved what he did." Lemmon's initial show business job in New York involved playing piano in the Old Knickerbocker Music Hall on Second Avenue as an accompanist to the silent films of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. He also performed in skits there and tended bar, among other tasks. During his early years in the business he continued doing summer stock.

Made Break into New Medium of Television

In late 1949 Lemmon appeared in a television series, That Wonderful Guy, along with Cynthia Stone, whom he later married. The series was canceled after 17 weeks, but Lemmon soon landed a job as master of ceremonies on a talent show named Toni Twin Time, where he received mixed reviews as an MC. When the show was canceled he and Stone found work on an improvisation show called TheAd Libbers. After that show was canceled Lemmon and Stone were paired once again, this time in a continuing 15-minute segment in which they played a young married couple. For the two, art mirrored life, as they had married on May 7, 1952. In 1952 Lemmon and Stone were cast in yet another situation comedy, Heaven for Betsy, which was panned by the critics.

By the early 1950s Lemmon, who now worked regularly in television, landed a part in the Broadway revival of Room Service, a hit play from the 1930s. Lemmon's Broadway debut was not so fortunate; this time around. Room Service closed after 18 performances, leaving Lemmon undaunted by the show's generally poor reviews. For one thing, he received valuable experience and exposure; for another, Hollywood literally beckoned him. He signed a seven-year nonexclusive contract with Columbia Pictures that required him to do two films a year, with a studio option for a third. Unfortunately, as his career moved forward his marriage with Stone steadily declined.

Lemmon's first film for Columbia was It Should Happen to You, which starred Academy Award-winner Judy Holliday and was directed by George Cukor. In it Lemmon plays a struggling documentary filmmaker. The film was successful and Lemmon caught the attention of the critics. In his second film, Phfft, he was again paired with Holliday. By this time he had reconciled with Stone, and the couple now relocated to California. In 1954 their son Christopher was born. Lemmon next had a small role in My Sister Eileen,but it was his fourth film that marked his entrance into the Hollywood pantheon.

First Academy Award

Lemmon's real breakthrough in movies came when legendary director John Ford literally handed him the role of Ensign Pulver in the film Mister Roberts. Based on the successful play, the film starred veteran actors Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, and Ward Bond, but it was Lemmon's performance as the laundry and morale officer Pulver that truly shone. This performance earned Lemmon an Academy Award for best supporting actor in 1955 and proved to the film world that he was a talent to be reckoned with. Unfortunately his increasing work schedule and his growing fame as a result of Mister Roberts took their toll on Lemmon's marriage. Soon after receiving the best supporting actor award, he received a divorce summons from his wife.

During the late 1950s Lemmon continued working in television as well as film and became friends with comedian Ernie Kovacs, a comic genius until his 1962 death in an automobile accident. The two worked together on two films, Operation Mad Ball and It Happened to Jane, the latter co-starring Doris Day. Lemmon's friendship with Kovacs was so close that in his Lemmon, biographer Don Widener quoted director Richard Quine as noting: "If Ernie had lived, the Lemmon-Matthau team might well have been Lemmon-Kovacs. They reminded me of a sophisticated Laurel and Hardy."

In 1959 Lemmon was paired with Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot. Under the brilliant direction of Billy Wilder Lemmon gave one of the greatest performances of his career opposite Marilyn Monroe by playing Jerry/Daphne, a Depression-era musician on the run from Chicago gangsters who hides out in an all-female band touring Florida. The next year Lemmon starred in The Apartment, also directed by Wilder. Lemmon's performance as C. C. Baxter, an up-and-coming corporate man who allows his superiors to use his apartment for liaisons, is perhaps his truest personification of the "everyman" for which he was best known.

Three things happened in 1962 that altered Lemmon's life and career. Kovacs died in an automobile accident, thus ending a flourishing professional partnership and close friendship; in August Lemmon married actress Felicia Farr, with whom he would have a daughter, Courtney, in 1966; and he starred with Lee Remick in the independent film, Days of Wine and Roses. As good as Lemmon's film work had been up to that time—he had won an additional two Academy Award nominations for his performances in Some Like It Hot and The Apartment—Lemmon stunned critics and audiences alike with his performance as the alcoholic Joe Clay in Days of Wine and Roses. The breakout performance earned him his fourth Academy Award nomination.

Over the next few years Lemmon returned to light comedy, with many of the roles shoring up his Everyman persona. He also acted in such high-farce films as The Great Race, until the mid-1960s when his career took another fateful turn. In 1966 he was teamed up for the first time with Walter Matthau in The Fortune Cookie, a Wilder-directed comedy about a photographer who, at the instigation of an unscrupulous lawyer, fakes the seriousness of an injury in order to defraud an insurance company. Two years later Lemmon and Matthau were cast as Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple, their best-known film together. The two enjoyed a 34-year friendship until Matthau's death in 2000, working together on 11 films, most of which were produced in the 1990s.

Earned Second Academy Award

In the 1970s the middle-aged Lemmon took on greater challenges, promoting his recognizable Everyman persona even as he discarded the youthful innocence that he had up to then played as counterpoint. In 1971 he tried his hand at directing and the result was Kotch, starring Matthau and with a cameo appearance by Lemmon. In 1973 came the role that brought Lemmon his second Academy Award, this time for best actor. As Harry Stoner in Save the Tiger, he played a businessman suffering through a mid-life crisis who must now weigh his ethics against his struggling business. Lemmon returned to television work in 1976, in a remake of The Entertainer reprising the role of second-rate entertainer Archie Rice formerly performed by Sir Laurence Olivier. While some criticized Lemmon for remaking the film, it was Olivier himself who had suggested he take on the part. Lemmon also starred in one of the decade's better disaster movies, Airport '77. He closed out the decade with another stunning performance, as the tormented but scrupulous Jack Godell in the controversial film The China Syndrome. The performance earned Lemmon his sixth Academy Award nomination, a Golden Globe nomination, a BAFTA (the British film award), the best actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, and a David (Italian film award) for best foreign actor, the last which he shared with fellow actor Dustin Hoffman.

The 1980s saw no letdown in the quality of Lemmon's work. He followed his turn in The China Syndrome with Tribute, in which he played the shallow agent Scotty Templeton, who discovers he is dying. The performance earned him another Academy Award nomination. as well as consideration for a Golden Globe Award. In 1982 Lemmon turned in yet another stunning performance in Missing, directed by controversial filmaker Costa-Gavras. In the film Lemmon plays a father whose son has gone missing as a result of the CIA-sponsored 1973 coup that overthrew Chilean President Salvador Allende. The film sparked lawsuits and official rebuttals but nevertheless became a turning point in the American public's perception of the coup. For his performance Lemmon received his eighth and final Academy Award nomination. He was also nominated for a BAFTA Award and a Golden Globe Award and received the award for best actor at the Cannes Film Festival.

During the 1980s Lemmon became increasingly involved in television work. He appeared in tributes to Frank Capra, Billy Wilder, Harold Lloyd, and even himself, but more important were the dramatic roles he took on. During the decade he appeared in the television films Long Day's Journey into Night (1987) and The Murder of Mary Phagan(1988). Yet Lemmon's film career was far from over. During the 1990s he appeared in Robert Altman's The Player (1992) and Short Cuts (1993) and also did a noteworthy job in David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, (1992) which Roger Ebert, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times, described as Lemmon's "version of Death of a Salesman."

Lemmon was remarkably busy during the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade he appeared in yet another political drama, JFK, and also starred in a number of comedies, particularly reviving his partnership with Matthau. The pair made five movies together during the decade, including Grumpy Old Men, Grumpier Old Men, and The Odd Couple II, all of which enjoyed fair commercial success but mixed critical reviews. Lemmon's television work included remakes of 12 Angry Men and Inherit the Wind, both of which earned him Emmy and Golden Globe nominations. He won the Golden Globe for his performance as Henry Drummond, the Clarence Darrow-like defense attorney in the latter. Lemmon's last important role came in the 1999 television film Tuesdays with Morrie, for which he won an Emmy award. He died from cancer on June 27, 2001.


Widener, Don, Lemmon, Macmillan, 1975.


Boston Globe, April 23, 1995.

Chicago Sun-Times, June 29, 2001.

Independent (London, England), February 21, 1990.

Los Angeles Times, December 9, 1996; January 24, 2000; June 30, 2001; September 11, 2001.

San Francisco Chronicle, November 30, 2000. □