John Lithgow as Joseph Alsop: What They Have In Common


My interview with John  Lithgow for Playbill, Contradictions and Cold War comparing him to the real-life character he is playing, Joseph Alsop, in The Columnist. True, Alsop was a closeted gay Cold Warrior who was a relative of the Roosevelts and close friends with JFK and Jackie; John Lithgow is none of those things. BUT:

oseph Alsop was a cultured man, a dedicated art collector who wrote several art history books. As a writer he averaged 1,000 words a day for 50 years, putting together a column three times a week and also penning several books, including a biography of FDR and a memoir published posthumously. Lithgow, too, is a man of letters; he is the author of eight children’s books and a memoir, “Drama: An Actor’s Education,” published last year. He is also a lifelong art lover; he attended the Art Students League as a teenager, fully intending a career as a visual artist, until one decisive evening in December of 1964, when he appeared in an undergraduate production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Utopia, Limited. At the end, the applause was deafening. “That 20 seconds was all it took,” Lithgow recalls in his memoir. “There was no longer any question. I was going to be an actor.”

The full Playbill article

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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