With two Oscar wins and dozens of box office hits Jack Lemmon seemed to glide through a career. He remains one of the most talented and versatile actors in the late classic studio period in Hollywood.
Enormously facile in a variety of roles, nearly 100 in all spread over a half century, Lemmon was known early on as “America’s Everyman.” But his benign, comedic presentation over time evolved into a dark, fascinating edge exemplified by his later work.
Lemmon added depth, and grew better as he got older. Check out his Oscar-winning performance as a morally compromised garment manufacturer in 1973’s Save The Tiger; or as the patriarch in Eugene O’Neill’s harrowing drama, Long Day’s Journey Into Night; or as tired real estate huckster in 1992’s Glengarry Glen Ross; or as pathetic English vaudevillian Archie Rice in 1976’s The Entertainer.
Lemmon, of coure, was a favorite of director Billy Wilder. He made truly classic comedies with pal Walter Matthau (1980’s Buddy, Buddy and 1993’s Grumpy Old Men, among them). He was the consummate actor.
He is aso one four personalities featured this week. The others are Tony Curtis, Sammy Davis Jr. and Sidney Poitier. In last Monday’s blog we informally quizzed you about this group. The questions are repeated here (along with the answers).
Q: Which one is still living?
A: Sidney Poitier, at age 90.
Q: Which two starred with Marilyn Monroe?
A: Lemmon and Tony Curtis in 1959’s Some Like It Hot.
Q: Who had a torrid affair with Kim Novak?
A: Sammy Davis Jr.
Q: Which ones won Oscars?
A: Poitier and Lemmon.
Q: Who kept their real surnames?
A: Davis, Lemmon and Poitier.
Q: Who was born in N. Y.?
A: Tony Curtis.
Q: Which was ineligible to run for president?
A: Sidney Poitier. Although born in Miami during a family visit, he is a native of Bahamas.
Q: Who is Jewish?
A: Tony Curtis (ne Bernard Schwartz) and Davis.
Q: Who are singers as well as actors?
A: Tony Curtis and Sammy Davis.
Q: Which of them had children in show business?
A: Curtis and Lemmon.