(John Uhler Lemmon 3d), 1925–2001, American actor, b. Newton, Mass., grad. Harvard (1947). He became famous in roles ranging from sardonic comedy to compelling drama, ultimately achieving the status of a kind of modern American Everyman, often hapless yet persevering. A talented piano player, he worked as a musician and acted in late 1940s and early 50s radio, television, and stage productions. He soon moved on to Hollywood, making his first film in 1954 and attracting wide attention as the likably brash Ensign Pulver in Mister Roberts (1955; Academy Award). His other early comedies include Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot (1950) and The Apartment (1960). In 1962, Lemmon starred as an anguished alcoholic in his first movie drama, the harrowing Days of Wine and Roses. During his career, Lemmon appeared in more than 60 movies, among them The Odd Couple (1968) and its sequel (1998), Save the Tiger (1973; Academy Award), The China Syndrome (1979), Tribute (1980), Missing (1982), JFK (1991), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992), and Grumpy Old Men (1993) and its sequel (1995). He also continued to act on stage and television, e.g., in Long Day's Journey into Night (1986–87) and the Emmy-winning Tuesdays with Morrie (1999).
See biographies by M. Freedland (1985) and D. Widener (rev. ed. 2000); J. Baltake, Jack Lemmon: His Films and Career (rev. ed. 1986).
Lemmon, (John Uhler, III) Jack
(1925– ) movie actor; born in Boston, Mass. At Harvard College he appeared in the Hasty Pudding Club shows. After Navy service, he went to New York City where he found work as a radio actor, in off Broadway productions, and on television. He first came to wider acclaim in a Broadway revival of Room Service (1953) and he made his movie debut in It Should Happen to You (1954). He went on to make a long series of popular movies, winning an Oscar as best supporting actor in Mister Roberts (1955) and as best actor in Save the Tiger (1973). Moving deftly between comic and serious roles, he proved to be one of Hollywood's most versatile and personable actors. He also returned to Broadway as the father in O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night (1986).
Jack Lemon dressed in drag Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot; Lemmon played a reporter tricked by news editor Walter Matthau in The Front Page; Lemon and Matthau on the set of The Odd Couple; relaxing in California in 1998