Friday, February 06, 2009

RIP, Adopted Grandpa #2

Veteran character actor James Whitmore died today, only three months after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

I've mentioned before that I've always felt something of a void in my life due to a lack of grandparental influence. I only knew one of my grandmothers, and she died when I was three. I didn't know either of my grandfathers, which might explain my affection for "sweet, little old men."

Burgess Meredith was always my #1 pick for an adopted grandpa, as you can see in my sidebar. Sadly, he passed away back in 1997. Still, I was lucky to have James Whitmore on deck as my #2 guy. But now he's gone, leaving me grandpa-less once again.

Although James had a long, successful career, I will always remember him for my two favorite performances:

  • Captain Benteen in the Twilight Zone episode, "On Thursday We Leave For Home." As the head of a group of pioneers trying to settle a distant planet, Whitmore perfectly makes the transformation from level-headed leader to irrational control freak when a rescue squad arrives to take everyone back to Earth. Much like the Burgess Meredith episode, "Time Enough at Last," it's one that suffers in my ranking because I feel the ending "comeuppance" is unnecessarily harsh.
  • Brooks Hatlen in The Shawshank Redemption. I won't elaborate, especially on this occasion, lest I end up curled in a ball and sobbing under my computer desk. All I'll say is that if you've seen this movie but were unmoved by Whitmore's performance, you are not human.
Goodbye, Grandpa James. I'll miss ya.


Dale said...

It's why you like me I'm sure, I'm a sweet old man no?
I didn't know about James Whitmore dying. I liked him too.

Travis said...

He was one of my favorites too. I think my favorite role of his is Sgt. Kinnie in the movie Battleground. But there were so many other excellent performances.

CDP said...

I'm sorry to hear about his death. I LOVED him in "Shawshank". His death in that movie is one of the few movie scenes that makes me cry.

pistols at dawn said...

Having had actual grandparents, I can tell you: you didn't miss much.

SkylersDad said...

He was an amazing actor, he will be missed.

Distributorcap said...

he was a great actor -- that twilite zone episode is one of the best

Gifted Typist said...

oh, man. I did not know.

cube said...

I was sorry to hear of Whitmore's passing. The good ones are dropping like flies.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

That is sad. You need to adopt a new grandpa now. Check out the Young@Heart choir for some great candidates.

Tony Alva said...

Well done Becky... Shawshank is the best casted movie EVER. Even the extras are period perfect.

Mike said...

I remember Mr. Whitmore for his portrayal of Will Rogers. A great character actor.

Lung cancer is brutal.

Mike said...

oh yeah...also remember him in the Miracle Grow Commercials

Grant Miller said...

I'm deeply saddened by your loss.

red said...

Awwww, I love that guy. He was so awesome in Shawshank.


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