James Whitmore, the Emmy- and Tony-winning actor who starred in scores of movies, stage plays, and television dramas over more than half a century, died on Friday at his home in Malibu, Calif., the Associated Press reports. Best known to current audiences as the wise and lonely old librarian in The Shawshank Redemption, Whitmore was 87 years old and had been suffering from lung cancer.
Often appearing in historical dramas and Westerns, Whitmore was renowned for his one-man theater performances about Harry Truman, Theodore Roosevelt, and Will Rogers, and he won acclaim as an actor across all stages. He was twice nominated for Academy Awards, garnering a Best Actor nod for 1975’s Give ’em Hell, Harry! and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for 1949’s Battleground. He took home an Emmy in 2000 for a guest-starring role on The Practice. And his Tony Award came in the late 1940s for the play Command Decision.