James Cromwell

This article is about the American actor. For Doris Duke's first husband, see James H. R. Cromwell.
James Cromwell

Cromwell in March 2010
Born James Oliver Cromwell
(1940-01-27) January 27, 1940
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Residence Warwick, New York, U.S.
Other names Jamie Cromwell
Alma mater Carnegie Mellon University
Occupation Actor, producer
Years active 1974–present
Children 3

James Oliver Cromwell (born January 27, 1940) is an American actor and producer. Some of his more notable films include Babe (1995), Star Trek: First Contact (1996), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Green Mile (1999), Space Cowboys (2000), The Sum of All Fears (2002), I, Robot (2004), The Queen (2006) and The Artist (2011), as well as the television series Six Feet Under (2003–2005), 24 (2007), American Horror Story: Asylum (2012), and Halt and Catch Fire (2015).

Cromwell has been nominated for four Emmy Awards and four Screen Actors Guild Awards, as well as the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Babe. In 2013, he won the Canadian Screen Award for Best Actor for his role in Still Mine and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for his role in American Horror Story: Asylum.[1]

Early life

Cromwell was born in Los Angeles, California, and raised in Manhattan, New York. He is the son of actress Kay Johnson (19041975) and actor, director, and producer John Cromwell (18871979), who was blacklisted during the McCarthy era.[2] He has English, German, Irish, and Scottish ancestry.[3][4] He was educated at The Hill School, Middlebury College, and Carnegie Mellon University. Like his parents, he was drawn to the theater, performing in everything from Shakespeare to experimental plays.


Cromwell's first television performance was in a 1974 episode of The Rockford Files playing Terry,[5] a tennis instructor. A few weeks later,[6] he began a recurring role as Stretch Cunningham on All in the Family. In 1975, he took his first lead role on television as Bill Lewis in the short-lived Hot l Baltimore, appeared on M*A*S*H as Captain Leo Bardonaro, in the episode "Last Laugh" in Season 6 and a year later he made his film debut in Neil Simon's classic detective spoof Murder by Death.

In 1980, Cromwell guest-starred in the two-part episode "Laura Ingalls Wilder" of the long-running television series Little House on the Prairie. He played Harve Miller, one of Almanzo Wilder's (Dean Butler) old friends.

While Cromwell continued with regular television work throughout the 1980s, he made appearances in films for his supporting roles in the films Tank and Revenge of the Nerds (both 1984). He guest starred on the sitcom Night Court, playing a mental patient, along with Predator actor Kevin Peter Hall. He had starring roles in the 1990s critically acclaimed films Babe (1995), The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996), L.A. Confidential (1997), The Green Mile, and Snow Falling on Cedars (both 1999). He also played Dr. Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact (1996) and the Star Trek: Enterprise pilot episode "Broken Bow" (the Star Trek: Enterprise episode "In a Mirror, Darkly" later reused some of the First Contact footage).[7] Appearing in other Star Trek roles on the television series The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, though not as Cochrane (these episodes predated his role in First Contact), Cromwell guest-starred in several episodes, including "The Hunted", "Birthright" (Part I and II) and "Starship Down". He also voiced The Colonel in Dreamworks' Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.

Cromwell has had additional successes on television throughout his career. His role as newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst in the television film RKO 281 earned him an Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Television Movie. The following year, he received his second Emmy Award nomination for playing Bishop Lionel Stewart on the NBC medical drama series ER. In 2004, he guest-starred as former President D. Wire Newman in the The West Wing episode "The Stormy Present". From 2003 to 2005, Cromwell played George Sibley in the HBO drama series Six Feet Under, which earned him his third Emmy Award nomination in 2003. Along with the rest of his castmates, he was also nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2005 and 2006. The following year, Cromwell played Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh in The Queen (2006), that earned Helen Mirren an Academy Award for Best Actress. He also guest starred as Phillip Bauer, father of lead character Jack, in the sixth season of the Fox thriller drama series 24.

In October 2007, Cromwell played the lead role of James Tyrone Sr. in the Druid Theatre Company's production of Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey into Night, at the Gaiety in Dublin as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival's 50th Anniversary.[8] That same year he received the King Vidor Memorial Award from the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival for his artistic achievements in film. More recently, Cromwell played George Herbert Walker Bush in Oliver Stone's W. (2008), that chronicles the rise to power of his son up until the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In an interview, Cromwell revealed that Stone had originally offered the role to Warren Beatty and Harrison Ford.[9]

In 2015, Cromwell executive-produced Janek Ambros's feature documentary Imminent Threat about the War on Terror's impact on civil liberties.

Personal life


Cromwell was married to Ann Ulvestad from 1976 to their divorce in 1986; they had three children. Cromwell married his second wife, actress Julie Cobb, on May 29, 1986; they divorced in 2005.[10] On January 1, 2014, Cromwell married actress Anna Stuart at the home of Stuart's former Another World co-star Charles Keating.


Cromwell is known for his tall stature; at 6 ft 6.5 in (1.99 m), he is the tallest actor nominated for an Academy Award. His son John is even taller, standing at a height of 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m).[11] In the 2012 film Memorial Day, John played the young Bud Vogel, while James played him as a grandfather,[12] and both Cromwells appear as the same character at different ages in American Horror Story: Asylum (2012) and the first season of Betrayal (2013). Cromwell grew up to be taller than both of his parents: his father was 6 ft 2.5 in (1.89 m) and his mother was 5 ft 4 in (1.63 m).


In the late 1960s, Cromwell was a member of the Committee to Defend the Panthers, a group organized to defend 13 members of the Black Panther Party who had been imprisoned in New York on charges of conspiracy. All 13 were eventually released. In a 2004 interview with CNN, Cromwell praised the Panthers.[13]

Cromwell has long been an advocate of progressive causes, particularly regarding animal rights. He became a vegetarian in 1974 after seeing a stockyard in Texas and experiencing the "smell, terror, and anxiety".[14] He became an ethical vegan while playing the character of Farmer Hoggett in the 1995 film Babe.[15] He frequently speaks out on issues regarding animal cruelty for PETA, largely on the treatment of pigs.[16]

In the book Money Men, author Jeffrey Birnbaum describes how John McCain went out of his way to meet Cromwell as he advocated on Capitol Hill for funding of Native American arts education.[17]

Cromwell served as the narrator of the short film Farm to Fridge, a documentary produced by Mercy for Animals.[18]

In an October 2008 interview, Cromwell strongly attacked the Republican Party and the George W. Bush administration, saying that their foreign policy would "either destroy us or the entire planet".[9]

Cromwell and J.G. Hertzler show their arrest citations at the Crestwood station protest

In February 2013, Cromwell was arrested for interrupting a University of Wisconsin Board of Regents meeting while showing a graphic photo of a cat to protest alleged mistreatment of animals on campus.[19][20] The well-publicized incident, which garnered nationwide notice, was resolved on March 25, 2013, when an attorney representing Cromwell entered no-contest pleas to the non-criminal offense and agreed to pay $100 forfeitures and court costs of $263.50.[21] In December 2015, he was removed from an event in New York for heckling an energy company receiving an award.[22]

On December 18, 2015, Cromwell and five other people were arrested while protesting the construction of a power station in Wawayanda, New York, near his home in Warwick, New York.[23] Cromwell and fellow Star Trek actor J. G. Hertzler were among the 19 people arrested in Watkins Glen, New York on June 6, 2016, for a protest against underground gas storage in salt caverns near Seneca Lake.[24]


Awards and nominations


  1. "Canadian Screen Awards raises the star wattage". Toronto Star, March 3, 2013.
  2. "John Cromwell – Films as director:, Other films:". Filmreference.com. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  3. "1". Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  4. "Pedigree of Cromwell's family". Retrieved April 9, 2015.
  5. "The Countess". January 1, 2000. Retrieved June 16, 2016 via IMDb.
  6. "All in the Family (a Titles & Air Dates Guide)". Epguides.com. November 27, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  7. "StarTrek.com Offers Commentary on 'In a Mirror, Darkly'". TrekToday. April 27, 2005. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  8. Gaiety Theatre Dublin, Ireland – Irish Theatre Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. 1 2 "W: James Cromwell vs. George Bush Snr.". SuicideGirls. October 15, 2008. Retrieved October 15, 2008.
  10. "James Cromwell files for divorce", Associated Press, January 14, 2005
  11. Ellis, Cynthia, "Tribeca Film Festival Interview: John and James Cromwell: A .45 at 50th", The Huffington Post, May 4, 2010
  12. "Memorial Day". Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  13. "Black Panther, drunk priest, kind farmer". CNN. June 18, 2004. Retrieved March 23, 2007.
  14. "AR-News James Cromwell interview in The Age (Melbourne) focuses on animal rights". EnviroLink Network. June 23, 2003. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  15. Cardoni, Salvatore (December 27, 2011). "James Cromwell: You Don't Own Another Creature". Takepart.com. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  16. "Select Your Media Preferences: James Cromwell's PETA Ad". Peta Tv. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  17. The Money Men By Jeffrey H. Birnbaum, Crown Books 2000, page 181
  18. "Farm to Fridge". Meatvideo.com. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
  19. WMTV (2013-02-07). "Actor James Cromwell Arrested at UW Regents Meeting". Gray Television, Inc. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  20. "James Cromwell Arrested Protesting UW Cat Experiments". PETA. 2013-02-07. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  21. "Attorney for actor James Cromwell agrees to fine for pro-animal outburst". The Cap Times.
  22. "'Babe' Star James Cromwell Escorted From N.Y. Event for Heckling". Retrieved June 16, 2016.
  23. Randall, Michael (December 18, 2015). "Six protesters taken into custody in anti-CPV power plant demonstration". recordonline.com. Times Herald-Record. Retrieved 20 December 2015.
  24. Star Trek Actors Arrested, Call on Gov. Cuomo to Boldly Go Beyond Fossil Fuels - EcoWatch

Further reading

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