Although John Lithgow is an actor with a broad range of interests and talents in every area of the entertainment industry -- and even outside it, he has been working in show business since the early seventies, and has achieved stunning success in wildly varied ventures. A list of his restless pursuits strains credulity.
At heart, Lithgow is a theatre actor. In 1973, he won a Tony Award three weeks after his Broadway debut, in David Storey's The Changing Room. Since then, he has appeared on Broadway eighteen more times, earning another Tony, three more Tony nominations, four Drama Desk Awards, and induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. His performances have included major roles in My Fat Friend, Trelawney of the "Wells," Comedians, Anna Christie, Bedroom Farce, Beyond Therapy, M. Butterfly, The Front Page, and, most recently, Retreat from Moscow, Mrs. Farnsworth, and the musicals Sweet Smell of Success (his second Tony), and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
In the early 1980's Lithgow began to make a major mark in films. At that time, he was nominated for Oscars in back-to-back years, for The World According to Garp and Terms of Endearment. He has appeared in over thirty films. Notable among them have been All That Jazz, Blow Out, Twilight Zone: the Movie, Footloose, 2010, Buckaroo Banzai, Harry and the Hendersons, Raising Cain, Ricochet, Cliffhanger, Orange County, Shrek, Kinsey, and a flashy cameo in the recent Dreamgirls.
For his work on television, Lithgow has been nominated for ten Emmy Awards. He has won four of them, one for an episode of Amazing Stories, and three for what is perhaps his most celebrated creation, Dick Solomon, on the hit NBC comedy series 3rd Rock from the Sun. In that show's six-year run, Lithgow also won the Golden Globe, two SAG Awards, The American Comedy Award, and, when it finally went off the air, a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Since 1998 he has written seven NY Times best-selling children's picture books, including The Remarkable Farkle McBride and Marsupial Sue. In addition, he has created two Lithgow Palooza activity books, Lithgow Palooza Readers for use in elementary schools. All of this work has won him two Parents' Choice Silver Honor Awards, and four Grammy Award nominations.
Lithgow has performed concerts for children with the Chicago, Pittsburgh, Detroit, Baltimore, and San Diego Symphonies, and at Carnegie Hall with the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and in January 2008 he will appear with the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra at Carnegie Hall as well as in February 2008 with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in his version of Carnival of the Animals as a singer. He has released three kids' albums including the Grammy-nominated The Sunny Side of the Street.
In 2003, the noted choreographer Christopher Wheeldon invited Lithgow to collaborate with him on a new piece for the New York City Ballet. The result was Carnival of the Animals, a ballet for fifty dancers, with music by Camille Saint-Saens and with Lithgow's verse narration. The project also spawned another award-winning children's book, Carnival of the Animals, and another Grammy-nominated CD.
John Lithgow was born in Rochester, New York, but grew up in Ohio, graduated from high school in Princeton, New Jersey, attended Harvard College, and used a Fulbright Grant to study at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art. He was honored by Harvard with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2005, and, at that time, was invited to deliver the school's Commencement Address. He concluded his address with a new children's book, written for the occasion and dedicated to Harvard's Class of '05. The book, Mahalia Mouse Goes to College, is calculated to instill an interest in higher education in very small children. It is a March 2007 release from Simon & Schuster.
Mr. Lithgow has three grown children, a granddaughter, and lives in Los Angles with his wife Mary, a Professor of Economic and Business History at UCLA.