The oldest of three sons of a high school art teacher, Timothy Bottoms was 17 when he toured Europe as a member of the Santa Monica Madrigal Society. Enjoying the "rush" of appearing before live audiences, Bottoms pursued a theatrical career. While playing the lead in a stage production of Romeo and Juliet, he was selected by writer/director Dalton Trumbo to play the blind, deaf, armless, and legless protagonist in the 1971 film version of Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun. That same year, Bottoms was tapped by Peter Bogdanovich to star as Texas teenager Sonny Crawford in the award-winning The Last Picture Show (1971), which featured Tim's younger brother Samuel. Bottoms followed these triumphs by creating the role of harried first-year law student Hart in the 1973 sleeper The Paper Chase. Thereafter, his film roles seemed haphazardly selected. On TV, Bottoms was given an opportunity to age nearly 30 years as Adam Trask in the 1981 miniseries version of East of Eden; he also co-starred with brothers Joseph and Sam in the feature-length TV pilot Favorite Son (1987). Again appearing opposite younger sibling Joseph, Tim made his Broadway bow in The 5th of July (1951). Bottoms surprised no one when he balked at the opportunity of re-creating his Sonny Crawford characterization in Texasville, the 1991 sequel to Last Picture Show. Eventually he not only agreed to co-star in Texasville, but also served as executive producer of a documentary on the making of that film, Picture This (1990).