Photo of James Whitmore James Whitmore

A veteran actor who turned to the craft when knee injuries ended his football career at Yale University, James Whitmore was born in White Plains, N.Y., on Oct. 1, 1921. Just two years after earning a Tony Award for his Broadway debut in "Command Decision" in 1947, he won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his film role in Battleground.

In 1975, Whitmore's long-running one-man show about the life and career of Harry Truman, "Give 'Em Hell, Harry," was released on film. He garnered a second Academy Award nod for his performance, marking the first time in Oscar history that an actor was nominated for a solo turn in a film.

Whitmore is best known among younger audiences for his sympathetic portrayal of a prison librarian in The Shawshank Redemption (1994). Later in his career, he won an Emmy for a guest performance on "The Practice" (1999). He died on Feb. 9, 2009, at the age of 87.

James Whitmore in The Shawshank Redemption

The Shawshank Redemption

1994 R

Framed for murder, upstanding banker Andy Dufresne begins a new life at Shawshank prison, where he comes to be admired by the other inmates -- including an older prisoner named Red -- for his integrity and unquenchable sense of hope.

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  • James Whitmore in The Adventures of Mark Twain The Adventures of Mark Twain