Sam Waterston

Sam Waterston

Infobox actor
name = Sam Waterston

caption = Sam Waterston displaying gifts from fans
birthname = Samuel Atkinson Waterston
birthdate = birth date and age|1940|11|15
birthplace = Cambridge, Massachusetts
occupation = actor
yearsactive = 1967 — present
spouse = Barbara Rutledge (1964-1969)
Lynn Louisa Woodruff (1976-)
emmyawards = Outstanding Informational Series
1996 "Lost Civilizations"
geminiawards = Best Supporting Actor in a Dramatic Program or Miniseries
2002 "The Matthew Shepard Story"
goldenglobeawards = Best Actor - Drama Series
1993 "I'll Fly Away"
sagawards = Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
1999 "Law & Order"

Samuel Atkinson "Sam" Waterston (born November 15 1940) is an American actor noted particularly for his portrayal of Jack McCoy on the long-running NBC television series "Law & Order". He has also appeared in many feature films.


Early life

Waterston, one 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. [ [ Ancestry of Sam Waterston ] ] [ [ Sam Waterston Biography - ] ] Waterston attended both the Brooks School, a boarding school in North Andover, Massachusetts, and the Groton School. 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 quite a few 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 character 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. [, "Sam Waterston Travesties Opens at Long Wharf Theatre May 11,"] [Celia Wren, "When Chekov had a Bad Dream, "New York Times",]

Waterston made his film debut in "Fitzwilly" in 1967. He starred 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 many years later on "Law & Order". Other films include "Savages" (1972), "The Great Gatsby" (1974), "Journey Into Fear" (1975), "Capricorn One" (1978), "Heaven's Gate" and "Hopscotch" (1980), "The Killing Fields" (1984, nominated Academy Award for Best Actor), "Mindwalk" (1990), "Serial Mom" (1994) and Woody Allen's "Interiors" (1978), "Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986, cameo), and "Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989). 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". He also had a starring role in an episode segment on the TV series "Amazing Stories" called "Mirror Mirror". He is also 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", ', ' and "". 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 user from robot attacks. [YouTube: [ "SNL Sketch 2."] Retrieved March 17, 2007.]

Waterston lent his voice to the popular animated television series "Family Guy" where he played Dr. Kaplan, the psychiatrist Brian Griffin consulted during his mid-life crisis in the episode "Brian in Love". He was Dr. Kaplan's voice 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 PBS documentary, "Lewis & Clark: The Journey of the Corps of Discovery", serving as the voice of Thomas 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 ' and Christopher Meloni of '. 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 Toronto-Dominion Bank's TD Ameritrade (formerly TD Waterhouse, the bank's investment arm). He replaced former "Law & Order" castmate Steven Hill as TD's spokesman. Also, he has lent his voice to an ad for "The Nation".

Waterston has also 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 is set to appear as Polonius in the 2008 Shakespeare in the Park production of Hamlet. [ Public Theater - Shakespeare in the Park] [ NYTheatre]

Waterston also narrates for Time-Life history specials.

Personal life

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, [ [ The General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church ] ] narrated the 1999 biographical documentary of Episcopal civil rights martyr Jonathan Myrick Daniels, "Here Am I, Send Me".

A political independent, he was a spokesman for the Unity08 movement, which unsuccessfully sought to run a non- or bipartisan presidential ticket in the 2008 presidential election. [ [ "Actor Sam Waterston Calls on Americans to Join Growing 2008 Political Movement, Unity08"] Retrieved 2008-01-04.] Waterston has stated that he was a Democratic Party supporter until he left 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's "Live From Lincoln Center", August 16, 2007.


*"The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean" (1965) - Andy
*"Fitzwilly" (1967) - Oliver
*"Generation" (1969) - Desmond
*"Three" (1969) - Taylor
*"Cover Me Babe" (1970) - Cameraman
*"Who Killed Mary What's 'Er Name?" (1971) - Alex
*"Mahoney's Estate" (1972) - Felix
*"Savages" (1972) - James, the Limping Man
*"The Glass Menagerie" (1973) - Tom Wingfield
*"The Great Gatsby" (1974) - Nick Carraway
*"Rancho Deluxe" (1975) - Cecil Colson
*"Journey into Fear" (1975) - Mr. Graham
*"Sweet Revenge" (1976) - Le Clerq
*"Capricorn One" (1978) - Lt. Col. Peter Willis
*"Interiors" (1978) - Mike
*"Eagle's Wing" (1979) - White Bull
*"Sweet William" (1980) - William
*"Hopscotch" (1980) - Joe Cutter
*"Heaven's Gate" (1980) - Frank Canton
*" Oppenheimer" (1982) - J. Robert Oppenheimer
*"Q.E.D." (1982) Professor Quentin Everett Deverill
*"The Killing Fields" (1984) - Sydney Schanberg
*"The Boy Who Loved Trolls" (1984) - Ofoeti
*"Warning Sign" (1985) - Cal Morse
*"Hannah and Her Sisters" (1986) - David (cameo)
*"Just Between Friends" (1986) - Harry Crandall
*"Flagrant désir" (1986) - Gerry Morrison
*"Devil's Paradise" (1987) - Mr. Jones
*"September" (1987) - Peter
*" Lincoln" (1988) - Abraham Lincoln
*"Welcome Home" (1989) - Woody
*"Crimes and Misdemeanors" (1989) - Ben
*"A Captive in the Land" (1990) - Royce
*"Mindwalk" (1990) - Jack Edwards
*"The Man in the Moon" (1991) - Matthew Trant
*"David's Mother" (1994) - John Nils
*"Serial Mom" (1994) - Eugene Sutphin, D.D.S.
*"The Enemy Within" (1994) - President William Foster
*"The Journey of August King" (1995) - Mooney Wright, Producer
*"Nixon" (1995) - Richard Helms (scenes deleted)
*"The Proprietor" (1996) - Harry Bancroft
*"Shadow Conspiracy" (1997) - The President
*"Miracle at Midnight" (1998) - Dr. Karl Koster
*"The Matthew Shepard Story" (2002) - Dennis Shepard
*"Le Divorce" (2003) - Chester Walker
*"The Commission" (2003) - J. Lee Rankin
*"Beowulf" (2007) - Narrator


;Academy Awards
Nominee: 1985 - Best Actor in a Leading Role, "The Killing Fields"

;Primetime Emmys
Nominee: 2000 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Nominee: 1999 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Nominee: 1998 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Winner: 1996 - Outstanding Informational Series, "Lost Civilizations"
Nominee: 1994 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or TV Special, "I'll Fly Away: Then and Now"
Nominee: 1993 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, "I'll Fly Away"
Nominee: 1992 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, "I'll Fly Away"
Nominee: 1974 - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama, "The Glass Menagerie"

;Golden Globe Awards
Nominee: 1995 - Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series - Drama, "Law & Order"
Winner: 1993 - Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series - Drama, "I'll Fly Away"
Nominee: 1992 - Best Performance by an Actor in a TV Series - Drama, "I'll Fly Away"
Nominee: 1985 - Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama, "The Killing Fields"
Nominee: 1983 - Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV, "Oppenheimer"
Nominee: 1975 - Best Supporting Actor - Motion Picture, "The Great Gatsby"
Nominee: 1975 - Most Promising Newcomer - Male, "The Great Gatsby"

;Screen Actors Guild
Nominee: 2004 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Nominee: 2002 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Nominee: 2001 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Nominee: 2000 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Winner: 1999 - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Nominee: 1999 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Nominee: 1999 - Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Nominee: 1998 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"
Nominee: 1997 - Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Law & Order"


External links

*imdb name|id=0001832|name=Sam Waterston
* [ Waterston's profile at the official "Law & Order" website]

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