John Uhler Lemmon III was an American actor and musician. He was nominated for an Academy Award eight times, winning twice. He starred in over 60 films, such as Mister Roberts, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Days of Wine and Roses, Irma la Douce, The Great Race and The Odd Couple.
About Jack Lemmon in brief
John Uhler Lemmon III was an American actor and musician. He was nominated for an Academy Award eight times, winning twice. He starred in over 60 films, such as Mister Roberts, Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, Days of Wine and Roses, Irma la Douce, The Great Race, The Odd Couple and Glengarry Glen Ross. Lemmon was a member of the V-12 Navy College Training Program, and served briefly as an ensign on the aircraft carrier USS Lake Champlain during World War II. He also played the piano, and was also a pianist, who became devoted to the instrument aged 14 and learned to play by ear. He had three significant operations on his ears before he turned 10, and spent two years in hospital by the time he turned 12. His parents had a difficult marriage, and separated permanently when he was 18, but never divorced. He attended Rivers Country Day School and Phillips Andover Academy, where he pursued track sports with success, and Harvard College, where he lived in Eliot House. After graduation with a degree in War Service Sciences in 1947, he studied acting under coach Uta Hagen at HB Studio in New York City. His film debut was a bit part as a plasterer in the film The Lady Takes a Sailor, but he was already appearing in television shows, which numbered about 400 from 1948 to 1953. He believed his stage career was about to take off when he appeared on Broadway for the first time in a 1953 revival of the comedy Room Service, but the production closed after two weeks.
Despite this setback, he was spotted by talent scout Max Arnow, who was then working for Columbia, and Lemmon’s focus shifted to films and Hollywood. His first role as a leading man was in the comedy It Should Happen to You, which also featured the established Judy Holliday in the female lead. He met comedian Ernie Kovacs after seeing his Columbia screen debut in Operation Mad Ball in France. In the film, Lemmon played a calculating Private Kovacs, but did not realize he was in a farce until he met Ford at the film’s set. The two leads soon reunited in Phffft. Lemmon became a professional actor, working on radio and Broadway. In 1986, he told The Washington Post in 1986 saying early in his career he had a snobbish attitude towards films over the stage. He signed a contract with Columbia allowing him leeway to pursue other projects, some of the terms of which he said he had gotten before. He ended up staying with Columbia for 10 years. He gained the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Pulnobody, with James Cagney and Henry Fonda, for Warner Bros., and gained a Best Actor nomination for The Odd couple. He died in 2007 at the age of 89, and is survived by his wife, three children and six grandchildren. He is buried in Mount Vernon, Massachusetts, in the Mount Vernon National Cemetery.