Weekly Feature

2009-02-11 / Obituaries

Actor James Whitmore, attended Amherst High School

Whitmore Whitmore Award-winning actor James Whitmore, 87, who attended Amherst Central High School for three years, died Friday, Feb. 6, 2009, in Malibu, Calif.

Born in White Plains, N.Y., Mr. Whitmore studied for three years at Amherst Central before accepting a football scholarship to Choate School in Wallingford, Conn.

He studied pre-law at Yale University, where he was a member of the Yale Drama School Players and co-founder of the university radio station.

He was drafted into the U.S. Marine Corps where during boot camp, he finished his degree and became an officer. He saw active duty in World War II.

A portrait of Mr. Whitmore is on display in the lobby of Shea's Performing Arts Center, along with those of other stars from Western New York.

Mr. Whitmore won a Tony Award in 1948 in the Broadway production of "Command Decision." He earned an Academy Award nomination the following year for best supporting actor in the film "Battleground."

A lengthy career in television followed, including an Emmy Award in 2000 as outstanding guest actor in a drama series for "The Practice." He was also nominated in the same category in 2003 for "Mister Sterling."

Mr. Whitmore was best-known for his one-man shows portraying Harry Truman in "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" Teddy Roosevelt in "Bully" and Will Rogers in "Will Rogers' U.S.A."

He was a member of Yale University's Skull & Bones club, an undergraduate secret society famous for the post-graduation accomplishments of its members. Living members include former President George W. Bush and his father, former President George H.W. Bush, and Sen. John Kerry.

Surviving are his wife, Noreen, and three sons, Steve, James J. and Dan.

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