Born: November 15, 1940
Date of Birth: November 15, 1940
Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Samuel Atkinson Waterston graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in 1962. Fluent in French, he also spent one year studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. Returning to the States, he began his acting career on the New York stage, then made his film debut in The Plastic Dome of Norma Jean (1965). The same year he made his television debut with two guest shots on the hit series Dr. Kildare, starring Richard Chamberlain. Waterston worked steadily in films, but first received widespread attention in 1973 when he play the role of Tom opposite Katherine Hepburn's Amanda in the ABC television adaptation of The Glass Menagerie. His starring role as Nick Carraway opposite Robert Redford in The Great Gatsby (1974) impressed audiences and critics alike, garnering him his first Golden Globe nomination. Many more film roles followed, including The Killing Fields (1984), for which he received Oscar, Golden Globe and BAFTA nominations as Best Actor.
Waterston has filmed several TV movies in Canada, including Lantern Hill (1990), based on a novel by Canadian author L.M. Montgomery. For his role in The Matthew Shepard Story (2002), he won a Gemini Award for Best Supporting Actor. Waterston played a Southern lawyer and single father in the critically-acclaimed TV series I'll Fly Away (1991 to 1993), winning a Golden Globe for his performance. He is perhaps best known, however, for his role as Jack McCoy in the long-running TV series Law & Order, for which he won a Screen Actors Guild award, three Emmy nominations and another Golden Globe nomination.
His eldest son from his first marriage, James Waterston, has followed in his father's footsteps as an actor, making his big screen debut in Dead Poet's Society (1989). The two appeared onstage together in Long Day's Journey into Night and on an episode of Law & Order. Sam Waterston married his second wife, Lynne, in 1975. They live in Connecticut and have three grown children: Elizabeth, Katherine and Graham.
Waterston has been a long-time member of the Board of Directors of Refugees International, an organization that helps refugees gain entry to the United States in order to be safe from persecution.