ADMISSION: Free, tickets required.
How to get tickets: Available in person at the Harvard Box Office, Farkas Hall, 10 Holyoke St., Cambridge, online, or by calling 617.496.2222 (online and phone ticket orders subject to service fees). Ticket distribution for Harvard affiliates (2 per person, with valid ID) begins Tuesday, April 18; ticket distribution for the public (2 per person) begins Thursday, April 20. Some remaining tickets may be available at the door one hour prior to event start time.
Award-winning actor John Lithgow ’67 ArD ’05 is the recipient of the 2017 Harvard Arts Medal, which will be awarded by Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust at a ceremony presented by the Office for the Arts at Harvard and the Harvard University Board of Overseers in association with the American Repertory Theater. It will include a discussion with Lithgow moderated by President Faust. This is the opening event for ARTS FIRST, Harvard University’s annual festival showcasing student and faculty creativity in the arts celebrating its 25th anniversary April 27-30.
John Lithgow has been described as an “actor’s actor” who has played a wide range of dramatic and comic roles on stage, film and television. A History and Literature concentrator at Harvard, he graduated magna cum laude in 1967 and later studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art on a Fulbright scholarship.
Since then, Lithgow has amassed numerous credits and won accolades from critics and audiences worldwide. His performance as Roberta Muldoon in the film adaptation of John Irving’s novel The World According to Garp was nominated for a 1982 Academy Award, and earned him Best Supporting Actor nods from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the New York Film Critics Circle. Some of his other notable film credits include Brian De Palma’s Obsession (1976) and Raising Cain (1992); Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983); Terms of Endearment (1984, Academy Award nominee); the cult sci-fi spoof The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984); Footloose (1984); Harry and the Hendersons (1987); Cliffhanger (1997); Shrek (2001), for which he voiced the villainous character Lord Farquaad; Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011); and Love is Strange opposite Alfred Molina (2014), which earned him an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Male Lead.
For his stage work Lithgow won a Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in David Storey’s 1973 play The Changing Room; and won again in 2003 as Best Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of columnist J.J. Hunsecker in Sweet Smell of Success. A few of his more recent theater credits include Pam MacKinnon’s acclaimed Broadway production of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance (2014); the National Theater (UK) production of Arthur Wing Pinero’s The Magistrate (2012); David Auburn’s The Columnist for the Manhattan Theater Club (2012); the Broadway revival of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons directed by Simon McBurney (2008); The Retreat From Moscow, also on Broadway, co-starring Eileen Atkins (2003); and the hit musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (2005). Since 2008 Lithgow has appeared in two installments of Stories by Heart, his self-written celebration of storytelling, at Lincoln Center Theatre and on tour, and in 2014 he played the title role in King Lear presented by the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
Beginning in 1996 Lithgow conquered television playing the extraterrestrial Dr. Dick Solomon in the NBC sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun, for which he won two Screen Actors Guild Awards, a Golden Globe and three Primetime Emmy Awards. Other notable TV credits include Twenty Good Years opposite Jeffrey Tambor (2006-2008); the fourth season of Showtime’s Dexter, for which he won a 2009 Primetime Emmy Award as Arthur Mitchell, “The Trinity Killer”; a recurring role on How I Met Your Mother (2011-2014); and the acclaimed 2016 Netflix series The Crown, for which he won the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series and a Critics Choice Television Award as Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Winston Churchill.
Lithgow is also the author of several children’s books, including Mahalia Mouse Goes to College: Book and CD, published in 2007 by Simon & Shuster. Farkle and Friends, a series of children’s concerts that Lithgow continues to perform around the country, is a CD of the same name released by Rhino Records in 2002, and other recordings for children have earned him four Grammy Award nominations. His memoir DRAMA: An Actor’s Education was published by HarperCollins in 2011. Appointed Master of the Arts at Harvard, Lithgow has served on the Harvard Board of Overseers and is one of the co-founders of the ARTS FIRST festival. He received a Doctor of Arts Honorary Degree from Harvard—and was the first actor to deliver the speech at the University’s Commencement exercises—in 2005.