James Whitmore was born in White Plains, New York on October 1, 1921. After attending Yale University where he was a member of the The Order of Skull and Bones, a Yale secret society, Whitmore served in World War II as a Marine. After the war, Whitmore used the G.I. bill to study at the American Theatre Wing, an academy where he met his future wife, Nancy Mygatt.
After making his Broadway debut in 1947 in Command Decision
as Tech Sergeant Evans, a role that earned him a Theatre World award as well as critic praise. Whitmore made his film debut in 1949's The Undercover Man
, a crime thriller and landed a role in Battleground
later that year, a role that earned him both a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination. After his Golden Globe win, Whitmore's career took off and he appeared in several films subsequently, including The Next Voice You Hear...
, Mrs. O'Malley and Mr. Malone
, The Asphalt Jungle
, and Above and Beyond
During the late 1950s, Whitmore began to turn his talents to television and had memorable roles in The Twilight Zone
, Ben Casey
, and starred in the series The Law and Mr. Jones
and My Friend Tony
. When The Law and Mr. Jones
ended after two seasons, Whitmore returned to the big screen for several films during the late 1960s: Black Like Me
, and Planet of the Apes
. Whitmore once again experienced renowned theatre success and appeared in made for TV movies during the 1970s.
Recently, Whitmore appeared in the The Shawshank Redemption
and went on to earn an Emmy award for his recurring role on The Practice
. Currently, Whitmore is married to Noreen Nash and continues to act on stage and television at the age of 85.