Mostly Credited As: John Larroquette
Birth Name: John Bernard Larroquette
Date Of Birth: November 25, 1947 (Age 66)
Country Of Birth: USA
Birth Place: New Orleans, Louisiana
Height: 6' 4" (1.93 m)
In many ways John Larroquette’s survival is as rousing a success as his career in front of the camera has been. A man whose life could have been summarized in a two-line obituary in an industry trade instead became the story of multiple honors and one of the most respected actors of his generation.
John Bernard Larroquette was born November 25, 1947 in New Orleans, a descendant of 18th century immigrants from France. An only child, his father abandoned the family when John was 2. He grew up with a love of music, playing saxophone and clarinet in high school. He also had a pronounced Creole accent, once describing the Louisiana way of pronouncing things as, “You have a friend named Earl (pronounced oil), but you put oil (pronouncedearl) in your car.” He worked hard to overcome the accent, developing a coveted baritone speaking voice.
After high school Larroquette enlisted in the Naval Reserves. He spent one year of active duty at the Navy base in Pensacola, Florida. After serving his active duty time Larroquette put his voice to use, working as a disc jockey. He also briefly tried his hand as a record producer but his efforts were unsuccessful.
In the early 1970s Larroquette relocated to Los Angeles. He got his first break, an uncredited and unpaid part as the narrator in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre. (Larroquette would later narrate the remake, quipping, “This time I got paid for it.”) The job, however, did get him voice work, and in 1975 he began acting in front of the camera. He also married fellow actor Elizabeth Cookson on July 4, 1975. Larroquette frequently joked that his choice of days to marry an Englishwoman was “My joke on the British.”
Several TV bit parts fell Larroquette’s way throughout the late 1970s. In 1981 he landed a career-changing role, Captain Stillman in the Bill Murray film Stripes. By this time, however, Larroquette was drinking heavily. Given that part of the film was shot in Kentucky, the bourbon capital of the world, it is no wonder Larroquette later admitted that he did not remember a thing about filming Stripes, including the fact that he broke his nose running into a door while filming a scene.
Because of his drinking problem Larroquette’s life was in a downward spiral at a time when his career was on the upswing. He briefly separated from his wife, and at one point he had a gun lying in front of him on the table with which to kill himself. He later said he opted out of suicide because he couldn’t get the note funny enough. Things turned around on February 5, 1982, when Larroquette said he had what he described as an out-of-body experience, seeing himself as a drunken slob sitting at a table. The next day, February 6, 1982, Larroquette said, “I went from not knowing how I could live without taking a drink to not being able to conceive of taking another drink.” He gave up all other recreational drugs as well.
Larroquette continued with small roles in film (Cat People, Altered States) and on television (Three’s Company, Dallas). In 1983 he went to a casting call for a new sitcom being developed by Barney Miller writer/producer Reinhold Weege, Night Court. Larroquette initially read for the role of Judge Harold T. Stone but Weege immediately had other plans for the actor, later admitting that the instant Larroquette began reading, “I knew I had my D.A.” Instead, the role of Harry Stone went to comedian/magician Harry Anderson, who was at the time featured in a small recurring role on Cheers, and Larroquette was cast as Assistant District Attorney Dan Fielding.
With his personal life back together and his acting fueled by newfound sobriety, Larroquette plunged headfirst into the role of the prosecutor. His skills as a comedic actor and his willingness to do anything for a laugh, from taking a pie or a glass of soda in the face to being knocked face-down into the salad bar by a woman, contributed to the success of Night Court. In the process, it put Larroquette in the history books: for four consecutive years, from 1985 through 1988, he won the “Outstanding Supporting Actor” Emmy award, the first person to win four consecutive trophies. After his fourth Emmy he withdrew his name from consideration; however, he continued to play the character with the same aplomb that earned him the awards. During the run of the series Larroquette also tried on a new hat: director. His directorial debut came in Night Court’s third season.
After Night Court ended following a nine-year run Larroquette moved on to another series, The John Larroquette Show, where Larroquette played a character close to home: a recovering alcoholic. The critical reviews of the show never materialized into ratings, causing NBC to first revamp the series from the dark comedy it had been to more standard sitcom fare. The series was eventually canceled, but Larroquette was still in demand. A guest appearance on The Practice netted Larroquette his fifth Emmy award in 1997.
Larroquette branched out into other areas, including serving as executive producer of a Hallmark series of movies centered around a former policeman turned private investigator. McBride had a total of ten episodes, several of which Larroquette directed.
His most adventurous move was in 2010, when he appeared in his first Broadway play, a revival of How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying alongside Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe. Larroquette was nominated for, and won, a Tony Award.
Larroquette’s hobbies include collecting first-edition books. He also frequently donates his time to give supportive lectures to recovering alcoholics. His son Jonathan is one of the two hosts of the podcast Uhh, Yeah Dude, while younger son Benjamin is a musician. Larroquette has been sober for over three decades and his marriage to Elizabeth has endured.
John Larroquette counts his blessings daily. When accepting his Tony award Larroquette said, “I don’t think that I get much argument by saying that I’ve had my fair share of success in this business, except for maybe a few who would say more than my fair share. And after the magnificent generosity of the Broadway League and the American Theater Wing in honoring me with this award, I might have a tendency to agree with those who think I’ve had more than my fair share.”