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Sam Waterston (1940)

Samuel Atkinson Waterston

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Samuel Atkinson "Sam" Waterston is an American actor and occasional producer and director. Among other roles, he is noted for his Academy Award-nominated portrayal of Sydney Schanberg in 1984's The Killing Fields, and his Golden Globe- and Screen Actors Guild Award-winning portrayal of Jack McCoy on the NBC television series Law & Order. He has been nominated for multiple Golden Globe-, Screen Actors Guild-, BAFTA- and Emmy Awards, having starred in over eighty film and television productions during his forty-five year career. Allmovie has characterised Waterston as having "cultivated a loyal following with his quietly charismatic, unfailingly solid performances." In January 2010, he received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


 early life
Waterston, the third of four siblings, was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His mother, Alice Tucker (née Atkinson), was an American Mayflower descendant and worked as a landscape painter, and his father, George Chychele Waterston, was an immigrant from Leith, Scotland and a semanticist and language teacher. Waterston attended both the Brooks School, a boarding school in North Andover, Massachusetts where his father taught, and the Groton School in Groton, Massachusetts. He entered Yale University on a scholarship in 1958 and graduated with a BA in 1962. After graduating from Yale, he attended the Clinton Playhouse for several months. Waterston also attended the Sorbonne in Paris and the American Actors Workshop.

The classically trained Waterston has numerous stage credits to his name. For example, he played an award-winning Benedick in Joseph Papp's production of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing, and played the title role in Hamlet. He continues live theater work during the summers, often seen acting at places like Long Wharf Theatre and the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven.

Waterston made his debut in 1965's The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean, coming to prominence in Fitzwilly in 1967. He starred as Tom with Katharine Hepburn in a 1973 TV movie adaptation of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie. The film also featured Michael Moriarty , whom Waterston later replaced as the Executive Assistant District Attorney on Law & Order. Other films include Savages , The Great Gatsby , Journey Into Fear , Capricorn One , Heaven's Gate, Hopscotch , and The Killing Fields . In 1985 he co-starred in Robert Preston's final TV film with Mary Tyler Moore "Finnegan Begin Again" one of three films he made in Virginia, the second also with Mary Tyler Moore was Gore Vidal's "Lincoln" and the third "Assault at West Point" with Samuel L. Jackson and the only actor to appear with him in all three Virginia films Alan Sader then Mindwalk , Serial Mom and Woody Allen's Interiors , Hannah and Her Sisters , September and Crimes and Misdemeanors . Waterston is a six-time Emmy Award nominee, as well as a winner of the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Aside from Law & Order, he has played other television roles including D.A. Forrest Bedford in I'll Fly Away, for which he won a Golden Globe Award as Best Actor - Drama Series in 1993. He also had a starring role in an episode segment on the TV series Amazing Stories called "Mirror Mirror". In 1994 he appeared as US President William Foster, alongside Forest Whittaker and Dana Delany, in the made for TV movie The Enemy Within, a remake of director John Frankenheimer's Cold War political thriller Seven Days In May.

Waterston also served on the Advisory Committee for the Lincoln Bicentennial, celebrating Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday. Waterston has portrayed Lincoln on stage and screen (The Civil War, Gore Vidal's Lincoln, Abe Lincoln in Illinois on Broadway, voiced Lincoln in an exhibit at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, and delivered Lincoln's Cooper Union speech on May 5, 2004.

Waterston has appeared in episodes of four different series with Richard Belzer: Law & Order, Homicide: Life on the Street, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Trial by Jury. He also made a popular cameo appearance on an episode of Saturday Night Live as himself, extolling the virtues of Old Glory Insurance, meant to protect the elderly from robot attacks.

Waterston lent his voice to the animated television series Family Guy where he played Dr. Kaplan, the psychiatrist Brian Griffin consults during his mid-life crisis in the episode "Brian in Love". He voices Dr. Kaplan again in the episode "Road to Rhode Island", but he is not credited in any other episode in which the character appears. Waterston also narrated NBC's documentary, The Great Race, the story of the famous 4 x 10-kilometer cross-country relay at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, which Italy won over the host nation. The special aired during NBC's coverage of the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy, on February 18, the day before the 2006 relay took place, which was also won by Italy. He added partial narration to the Ken Burns documentary, Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery, serving as the voice of Thomas Jefferson. He also played Jefferson in Burns' documentary about Jefferson. He also appeared in the first episode of ABC's Masters of Science Fiction, playing an amnesiac in the episode "A Clean Escape".

Waterston appeared on the 5,100th edition of Jeopardy!, on November 10, 2006, with Kathryn Erbe of Law & Order: Criminal Intent and Christopher Meloni of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Waterston finished second to Meloni, and received a $25,000 prize, which he donated to Refugees International and Oceana.

Waterston is regularly featured in television advertisements for TD Ameritrade (formerly TD Waterhouse, which is mostly owned by Toronto-Dominion Bank and the Ricketts family). He replaced former Law & Order castmate Steven Hill as TD's spokesman. He has lent his voice to an ad for The Nation.

Waterston has appeared in a recurring segment on The Colbert Report, called "Sam Waterston Says Things You Should Never Believe In A Trustworthy Manner." The segments usually involve Waterston simply stating an obviously untrue film quote in a very convincing voice.

Waterston appeared as Polonius in the 2008 Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet. His performance received excellent reviews in The New York Times and many other newspapers around the country, particularly in the Northeast.

Waterston narrates for Time-Life history specials.

On February 12, 2009, Waterson joined the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College orchestra and chorus, along with the Riverside Inspirational Choir and NYC Labor Choir, in honoring Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday at the Riverside Church in New York City. Under the direction of Maurice Peress, they performed Earl Robinson's "The Lonesome Train: A Music Legend for Actors, Folk Singers, Choirs, and Orchestra" in which Waterson depicted Abraham Lincoln.

On January 7, 2010, Waterston received the 2,397th Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Law & Order completed its 20-year run on NBC on May 24, 2010, with Waterston ending the series as its second longest-serving cast member .

On October 30, 2010 Waterson read Colbert's original poem "Are you sure" at the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear in Washington D.C.

Waterston will return to television when he stars alongside Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer in a yet-to-be-named HBO series by Aaron Sorkin about cable television news.

 personal life
Waterston was married to his first wife, Barbara Rutledge-Johns Waterston, from 1964 to 1975. They married in a Methodist ceremony at Branford College at Yale. Barbara Waterston is the sister of Alexandra Johns Stoddard. Sam and Barbara had one son, James, also an actor (whose roles include that of Gerard Pitts in Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society). Waterston married his second wife, former model Lynn Louisa Woodruff in 1976. They have three children, daughters Katherine and Elisabeth, who are also actors, and a son, Graham.

An active humanitarian, Waterston donates considerable time to organizations such as Oceana, where he is a board member, Refugees International, Meals on Wheels, The United Way, and The Episcopal Actors' Guild of America. Waterston, a practicing Episcopalian, narrated the 1999 biographical documentary of Episcopal civil rights martyr Jonathan Myrick Daniels, Here Am I, Send Me.

He was a spokesman for the Unity08 movement, which unsuccessfully sought to run a non- or bipartisan
presidential ticket in the 2008 presidential election. Waterston has stated that he was a Democrat until he left the party in disgust following the airing of Lyndon B. Johnson's infamous "Daisy" election ad in 1964. Waterston has also appeared in print ads, and announced in television commercials, for the liberal magazine The Nation.

In 2002, Waterston and fellow Law & Order castmate Jerry Orbach were honored as "Living Landmarks" by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.

Waterston is a longtime friend and fan of the Mark Morris Dance Group and hosted the television presentation of Mozart Dances on PBS' Live from Lincoln Center on August 16, 2007.

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