Star of Them! Dies

Posted by: Loren Coleman on February 6th, 2009

James Whitmore, the well-known actor of over 50 movies, and the star of such celebrated cryptofiction films as Them!, has died of lung cancer in Malibu, on February 6th, 2009, at the age of 87. He was diagnosed with the disease a week before Thanksgiving.

Born in White Plains, N.Y., on October 1, 1921, Whitmore later moved to Buffalo, N.Y., where he attended public schools until his senior year of high school, when he attended the Choate School in Wallingford, Conn., on a football scholarship.

He was surrounded by what he considered to be the most important in his life, which was his family. He was loved and admired for his work as an actor, but he was loved and admired for being a father, a grandfather and a great-grandfather to all those who knew him and loved him. said his son Steve

In addition to his son Steve, Whitmore is survived by his third wife, Noreen; his sons James Jr. and Dan; eight grandchildren; and several great-grandchildren.

Whitmore’s Los Angeles Times obit can be found here.

Them! (1954)
Dr. Patricia ‘Pat’ Medford [played by Joan Weldon]: [observing the tunnel walls] Look! Held together with saliva!
Ben Peterson [played by James Whitmore]: Yeah! Spit’s all that’s holding me together right now, too.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

7 Responses to “Star of Them! Dies”

  1. gavinf responds:

    THEM was a great sci-fi movie. And because James Whitmore and the rest of the cast played it straight, not cheesy, it’s a movie that will always be great.

    He seemed to be a truly good man. My condolences to the family.

  2. Alligator responds:

    I just watched “The Shawshank Redemption” in which Whitmore played Brooks the prison librarian. A minor but important tragic role in the movie. I think it may have been his last movie role.

    Whitmore was also excellent playing the part of Harry Truman in “Given Em Hell Harry.” Uncanny similarity to the real Mr. Truman whom I saw growing up.

    “Them” was on AMC the other night. I can’t belive it scared me so bad as a kid (the ants seem so fake now) but for 1954, it was first class science fiction and special effects, much better than the majority of sci-fi movies of the period to follow.

    I don’t think any of the contemporary actors and actresses quite stack up to this older generation like Whitmore.

  3. camperwoman responds:

    My family watched “Them!” as the late-night creature feature on New Year’s Eve when I was 5 or 6 (mid-60’s) as a way to stay up until midnight. It was the first time I was allowed to stay up that late to see in the New Year. I watched it again recently, and, even though the special effects are crude (probably cutting-edge for that time), I still enjoyed the story and acting. In fact it had been so long since I’d seen a young James Whitmore, I’d forgotten how handsome he was.

    Godspeed, Mr. Whitmore.

  4. DavidFullam responds:

    THEM played at least once a month on TV here in town when I was growing up. Still the best of the atomic monster movies (Gojira comes close). If it were remade, they would wimp out on the end and his character would survive, I’m sure. RIP Mr. Whitmore.

  5. HulkSmashNow responds:

    Mr. Whitmore was also a veteran of World War II. As a Marine, he served in the Battles of Saipan and Tinian.

  6. MattBille responds:

    Hulk, that’s interesting. My late father-in-law was a Marine wounded on Saipan. Now I’ll always wonder if they might have met.

    Them was a teriffic movie to me as a kid. A lot of those early efforts still hold up well as movies, whether the effects are dated or not. Black Lagoon does, as do SF efforts like The Thing and The Day the Earth Stood Still. Some were cheesy even then, but fun (The Deadly Mantis) and some were terrible even then (The Giant Claw).

    There are good actors and actresses’ today (Naomi Watts did an incredible job playing to a blue screen in King King), but I am trying hard to think of someone currently hot whose departure would leave a void in the acting world the way Whitmore or Paul Newman or Kate Hepburn did. I can’t come up with one.

  7. EastTexan responds:

    THEM was (and still is) an enjoyable movie. I met and visited with Mr. Whitmore in the early ’70s when he was doing his Will Rogers show. He was a true gentleman. Another of my favorite James Whitmore movies was “The Next Voice You Hear”.

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