James Whitmore dies of lung cancer


Veteran actor James Allen Whitmore, died Friday of lung cancer at his Malibu home, according to his son Steve Whitmore. He was 87.

James, a New York native and World War II veteran, reportedly was diagnosed with the disease in November.

His career on stage and screen spanned more than 50 years, and his achievements included Tony and Emmy Awards as well as an Academy Award nomination for his supporting role in World War II epic, “Battleground”.

“My father believed that family came before everything, that work was just a vehicle in which to provide for your family,” said Steve. “At the end, and in the last two and a half months of his life, he was surrounded by his family.”

In 1963, Whitmore played Captain William Benteen in The Twilight Zone episode “On Thursday We Leave for Home.” He also made several unforgettable appearances on the classic ABC’s “The Big Valley” during the second half of the 1960s.

In 1986, Whitmore voiced Mark Twain in the first claymation film “The Adventures of Mark Twain“. To a younger generation, he was probably best known for his role as the prison librarian in “The Shawshank Redemption“.

He worked up until the last moment, starring in two episodes of “The Practice” in 1999, earning an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series.