James Whitmore, the veteran Tony and Emmy award-winning actor who brought American icons Will Rogers, Harry Truman and Theodore Roosevelt to life in one-man shows, died Friday. He was 87.
Mr. Whitmore died of lung cancer at his home in Malibu, said his son, Steve. He was diagnosed with the disease a week before Thanksgiving.
"He cared about acting; his whole life was dedicated to the theater and to movies," said actor David Huddleston, a longtime friend who appeared in Mr. Whitmore's 1964 movie "Black Like Me," and did a couple of plays with him.
James Arness, who appeared with Mr. Whitmore in the movies "Battleground" and "Them!," said Mr. Whitmore was "an actor's actor," adding that "it was always a treat to work with him."
Arness also remembered the "great intensity" Mr. Whitmore could bring to a role.
"When we wanted to get an actor to play a character who had that quality, Jimmy was the guy you'd think of," said Arness, who starred in "Gunsmoke," a TV series that Mr. Whitmore appeared on a number of times.
A stocky World War II Marine Corps veteran who bore a resemblance to Spencer Tracy, Mr. Whitmore earned early acclaim.
In 1948, he won a Tony award for outstanding performance by a newcomer in the role of an amusingly cynical Army Air Forces sergeant in the Broadway production of "Command Decision."
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