Death of James Whitmore

This is just a quick post noticing the death of actor James Whitmore (1921-2009).  He had such a distinctive face and voice — it almost seems like I grew up watching him in the movies and on television. 

For most folks, his most memorable role was probably as Harry Truman in the one-man play later made into the film Give ‘Em Hell, Harry — he received an Oscar nomination for best actor for that one.  Greensboro Public Library has a copy of the drama, written by Samuel Gallu.

But I think I’ll best remember him as the prison librarian, Brooks Hatlen, in director Frank Darabont’s Shawshank Redemption — adapted from a novella by Stephen King.  Tragically, Brooks had been institutionalized for so long that when he was finally released — after approximately 50 years behind bars — he was unable to cope with the outside world.  Brooks’ fate was similar to that which awaited Morgan Freeman’s character, “Red” Redding, . . . but, I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen the film!

You can find a brief biography of Whitmore in Biography Reference Bank.

Anyway, he will be missed.

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4 Responses

  1. He was really great in Shawshank Redemption…too bad he’s gone

  2. Speaking of Shawshank Redemption, it first appeared as one of four novellas in Stephen King’s collection called Different Seasons, several copies of which GPL owns. Three of those novellas have made it onto celluloid. Shawshank is one, obviously. The novella called The Body was made into Ron Howard’s Stand by Me. A third, Apt Pupil, was made into a film of the same name. All four stories are excellent, though they are more rough-edged than their movie counterparts.

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