In Memoriam: Jack Lemmon
Actor Jack Lemmon, best known for his role as the fastidious half of The Odd Couple, died on June 27, 2001, at age 76. Raised in comfortable circumstances in the Boston area, Lemmon was a Harvard graduate and served in the U.S. Navy. In addition to acting in television and on the stage, Lemmon appeared in scores of movies. Here are a few of the films that he will be remembered for:
Mister Roberts (1955) - Henry Fonda plays the title role in this World War II story about an officer yearning for combat duty who is assigned to a cargo ship commanded by an eccentric captain (James Cagney). Lemmons portrayal of Ensign Pulver, one of the ships junior officers, earned him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Some Like It Hot (1959) - Billy Wilder directed and co-scripted this film, which is possibly the greatest comedy ever made. Lemmon and Tony Curtis play jazz musicians who dress in drag and join an all-girl band, where they meet a sexy singer named Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe).
The Apartment (1960) - Winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, this film was also directed and co-scripted by Billy Wilder. Lemmon plays a low-level employee who climbs the corporate ladder by lending his apartment to executives for their extramarital affairs. Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray also star.
Days of Wine and Roses (1962) - Lemmon and Lee Remick give compelling performances in this hard-hitting drama about alcoholism. Lemmon plays a hard-drinking businessman who marries an attractive woman (Remick). They are happy at first, but gradually their addiction to alcohol pulls them into a downward spiral.
The Odd Couple (1968) - Lemmon teamed with Walter Matthau in this hilarious comedy about two divorced men forced by circumstances to live together. The clashes between the fastidious Felix (Lemmon) and the sloppy Oscar (Matthau) are unforgettable, and the screen chemistry between the two great actors is extraordinary.
Save the Tiger (1973) - In this powerful character study, Lemmon portrays a dress manufacturer who broods over the compromises he makes to survive in a harsh business environment. Lemmons performance earned him the Academy Award for Best Actor.
The China Syndrome (1979) - In this entertaining thriller, Lemmon plays an executive at a nuclear power plant who teams up with a television reporter (Jane Fonda) and a cameraman (Michael Douglas) to try to get to the bottom of what might be a massive cover-up.
Grumpy Old Men (1993) - Lemmon and Matthau reunited for this popular comedy about two irascible bachelor retirees who have been friendly rivals for years. But their rivalry gets kicked into high gear when an attractive widow (Ann-Margret) moves into their neighborhood.
Tuesdays With Morrie (1999) - This is a made-for-TV movie based on Mitch Alboms bestselling book. Hank Azaria plays an always-on-the-go sportswriter who finds out that Morrie (Lemmon), one of his old professors, is dying. The sportswriter comes to visit Morrie every Tuesday and gains some valuable insights. Lemmons moving performance earned him an Emmy.
Jack Lemmon had a rare gift for
both comedy and drama: He could make us laugh, but he could make us cry, too.
Fortunately for us, his spirit will always be with us as we watch his films on
video and DVD.
~ Ivana Redwine