Tom Skerritt

Active - 1962 - 2021  |   Born - Aug 25, 1933 in Detroit, Michigan, United States  |   Genres - Drama, Comedy, Thriller, Crime, Action

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Tom Skerritt is probably the best-known actor whose name is never remembered. A rugged "outdoors" type, Skerritt briefly attended Wayne State University and UCLA before making his film bow in War Hunt (1962). His subsequent film and TV roles were sizeable, but so adept was Skerritt at immersing himself in his character that he seemed to have no tangible, recurrent personality of his own. Billed second as "Duke" in the original M*A*S*H* (1970), Skerritt did his usual finely-honed job, but audiences of the time preferred the demonstrative, mannered acting technique of Elliott Gould, Donald Sutherland and Robert Duvall; significantly, Skerritt's character was not carried over into the even more unsubtle M*A*S*H TV series. Finally, in 1980, Skerritt began to attain a following with his authoritative performance in Alien. Since that time, there's been no stopping him. He posed in a popular series of "Guess?" Jeans ads, appeared as a 1987-88 regular on "Cheers," starred in 1992's A River Runs Through It (directed by his long-ago War Hunt costar Robert Redford), and won a 1994 Emmy for his work on the TV series "Picket Fences."

Skerritt would continue to work at a remarkable pace, usually appearing in several projects a year. From 1999's family drama The Other Sister to 2003's war thriller Tears of the Sun, the actor could be spotted by fans of seemingly every area of film throughout the 90's and 2000's. In 2006, he took a recurring role in the hit primetime drama Brothers and Sisters, and in 2008 he signed on for the redneck comedy Beer for my Horses. He went on to appear in Whiteout, Multiple Sarcasms, and he made a cameo as himself in the R rated talking teddy bear movie Ted.

Movie Highlights

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  • Discovered while performing in a UCLA production of The Rainmaker.
  • Made his feature film debut in the 1962 film, War Hunt, alongside fellow newcomer Robert Redford. Skerritt later appeared in the Robert Redford-directed film A River Runs Through It (1992).
  • Made a cameo appearance in Harold and Maude (1971) as a police officer, although he is credited as "M. Borman."
  • Appeared in a successful ad campaign for Guess Jeans in the wake of his popularity in Top Gun (1986).
  • Is one of the featured voices in the Xbox/Xbox 360 game GUN.
  • Helped start The Film School in Seattle, where he regularly teaches courses.
  • Although not known for his work on the stage, played the title role in Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of Don Quixote in 2012.