James Whitmore honored by his family

LOS ANGELES Steve Whitmore enters his father's world at a small theatre in North Hollywood named after the veteran actor.

James Whitmore's middle son may also be familiar, he's Sheriff Baca's official spokesman, but now he's remembering the father he and his brothers lost to lung cancer two weeks ago.

"The most important thing in his life he said over and over again was his family. But the ability to provide for that family was his love of acting," said Steve Whitmore.

Steve wrote a tribute to his dad 17 years ago. Just days after the actor's loss, he wrote another. This is just a portion -- sharing another side of James Whitmore.

"Framed photographs line this old Marine's fireplace mantle like so many soldiers announcing their presence with impressive authority. The photographs are of president's past and present, leaders of the free world, who are laughing, shaking hands, posing, and discussing events of the day with this man, veteran actor James Whitmore. In his fading state of health, he looked forward to certain events; the Super Bowl, my son, Brennan's birthday, Christmas where he would play Santa."

"And he looked forward with great anticipation to the Inauguration of Barack Obama. After the speech and just prior to the singing of the National Anthem, my dad motioned to me with great intensity, fists tight, eyes closed and teeth clenched. He appeared to be saying with his body, 'Get me up! Get me up!' The National Anthem began to play. He stood straighter. This old Marine, this proud American, was standing at attention for his country's anthem. My dad died last Friday. He was 87. He concluded most every conversation with everybody with this saying: 'Onward and awkward.'"

Click here to read Steve Whitmore's tribute in its entirety.

And what would that change of cliche from "Onward and Upward" mean?

"I think he just meant keep moving forward. As long as you are stumbling forward it's okay," said Steve Whitmore.

There will be a private service with family and a public memorial March 28, at 1 p.m. The public service will be held at the Director's Guild of America, located at 7920 Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles.

In lieu of flowers, the family would like donations to be made to:

Peterborough Players
P.O. Box 118
Peterborough, New Hampshire 03458

Peterborough Players was the first theater that hired actor James Whitmore.



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