Actor James Whitmore dies

February 6, 2009 5:23:58 PM PST
The son of James Whitmore says the versatile actor has died of lung cancer. Steve Whitmore says his father was diagnosed with the disease a week before Thanksgiving and died Friday afternoon in his Malibu home. [SIGN UP: Get entertainment news sent to you]

"My father believed that family came before everything, that work was just a vehicle in which to provide for your family," said Steve Whitmore, who works as spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. "At the end, and in the last two and a half months of his life, he was surrounded by his family."

Whitmore was a many-faceted character actor who delivered strong performances in movies, television and especially the theater with his popular one-man shows about Harry Truman, Will Rogers and Theodore Roosevelt.

The Tony- and Emmy-winning actor, who was also nominated for an Oscar, was later known as the long-time pitchman for Miracle-Gro plant food.

Besides Steve Whitmore, James Whitmore is survived by his third wife, Noreen; sons James Jr. and Dan; and eight grandchildren.

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