John Arthur Lithgow was born on October 19, 1945 in Rochester, New York as the third of four children to Sarah Jane Price, a retired actress, and Arthur W. Lithgow, a theatrical producer and director who ran the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey. Because of his father's job, the family moved frequently during John's childhood. He spent his teenage years in Akron living at Stan Hywet and Lakewood, Ohio.
John attended Harvard College, and graduated with an A.B. magna cum laude in 1967, in history and literature. He credits a performance at Harvard of Gilbert and Sullivan's Utopia Limited with helping him decide to become an actor. After graduation, he won a Fulbright Scholarship to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. John débuted on Broadway in 1973 in David Storey's The Changing Room, and the following year, starred opposite Lynn Redgrave in My Fat Friend. In 1976, he was opposite Meryl Streep in Arthur Miller's A Memory of Two Mondays. Some of his other stage work include the 2002 Broadway adaptation of the 1957 film Sweet Smell of Success, the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2007 production of Twelfth Night at The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, England, and the 2008 through 2009 production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons.
His select film portrayals include Lucas Sergeant in Bob Fosse's semi-autobiographical 1979 movie All That Jazz, the 1984 cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, a pastor who condemns dancing in the 1984 musical-drama Footloose and American space engineer Walter Curnow in 2010, the sequel to the science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Some of his other works are the remake of the classic Twilight Zone episode "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" in Twilight Zone: The Movie, Ricochet opposite Denzel Washington and Cliffhanger opposite Sylvester Stallone.
In terms of his television career, John is most widely known for his starring role as Dick Solomon in the 1996–2001 NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun and as the serial killer Arthur Mitchell in season four of Showtime series Dexter. As a voice actor, he is well known for his role as the evil Lord Farquaad in the Shrek movie franchise.
Arthur was formerly married to teacher Jean Taynton from 1966 to 1980. They have one son, Ian. He remarried a professor named Mary Yeager and have two children, Phoebe and Nathan.
- He has written children's books, among them Marsupial Sue and I'm a Manatee, recorded children's albums, including Singin' in the Bathtub and Farkle and Friends, and hosted children's concerts at Carnegie Hall.
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- John Lithgow on Wikipedia
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