proprietor of Cicely's only tavern, Holling
Cullum), fed the locals a combination of home-cooked food, good
advice, and insight. He and his lovely young wife, Shelly,
managed The Brick and got along with each other seamlessly, despite
their 41-year-age difference. Fans might eternally picture Holling
serving up mooseburgers to Chris, Maggie,
or Joel. However, for Tony Award-winning
actor John Cullum, starring in a television series was a new experience.
So, when Northern Exposure finished filming, he stepped from behind the bar and returned
to the stage.
born on March 2, 1930 in Knoxville, Tennessee. A graduate of the
University of Tennessee, Cullum also was a standout tennis player,
winning the 1951 Southeastern Conference doubles championship with
Bill Davis. In 1959, he married noted modern dancer/choreographer,
playwright and novelist, Emily Frankel. They have a son, JD
Cullum, who is also an actor.
| Before Northern
Exposure, Cullum's work includes theatre, film and TV.
He made his Broadway debut in 1960 in Camelot. He appeared
in many TV series, including Quantum Leap (episode "Catch
a Falling Star - May 21, 1979" in the second season).
Fellow future NX alumna, Janine
Turner, also appeared in this 1989 episode. He also directed an
Northern Exposure went off the air, in 1996, Cullum came
back to Broadway as Cap'n Andy in the Harold Prince revival of Show
Boat. He also starred in the Roundabout Theater's 50th Anniversary
revival of the Arthur Miller classic All My Sons (1997).
In 1999, he toured Dallas, Atlanta, and Pasadena in South Pacific;
and in 2000, he starred in Ancestral Voices in New Brunswick,
New Jersey. That same year, Cullum made his London debut starring
as Mr. Peters in Mr. Peter's Connections, a new play by Arthur Miller,
which toured four cities in Great Britain. He appeared in Wendy
Wasserstein's Old Money (2001) at Lincoln Center in New
Cullum made guest TV appearances on Law & Order, Nothing
Sacred, Roswell, All My Children, and Touched
By An Angel, in which he appeared as Mark Twain in a touching
Christmas episode, "It Came Upon a Midnight Clear." Cullum was again
catapulted into television stardom as a regular guest star on the
hit series ER
during the 1997 and 1999 seasons as Dr. Mark Greene's (Anthony
Edwards) cancer-afflicted father. Since NX, Cullum's also begun
to branch out into movies. In 1997, he wrote the screenplay for
and starred as Algernon Pendleton in The Secret Life of Algernon,
which won the First Place Jury Award at the 1998 Film Fest New Haven.
He also played the judge mediating between Jack Lemmon and George
C. Scott in Inherit the Wind (1999) and starred in Held
Up with Barry Corbin (2000).
In 2001, Cullum
appeared as the political boss of Urinetown!,
an Off Off Broadway production. A hit at the 1999 New York International
Fringe Festival, the play has amassed a cult following. Despite
the title's implications, this absurdist play's subject matter is
inoffensive: it's the story of a group of drought-plagued urbanites
whose thirst becomes so intense that they are forced to look within
themselves for water. In
2002, Cullum was nominated for Outstanding Actor in a Musical for
the show by the Outer
Critics Circle Awards (Broadway and off-broadway). He also received
a 2002 Tony Award nomination for Best Performance by Leading Actor
in a Musical (for Urintetown). He previously won in this
lead category for his portrayal of Virginia farmer Charlie Anderson
in Shenandoah (1975 Original Broadway Cast)">Shenandoah (1975). He also won a Tony in 1978 for On The Twentieth Century (1978 Original Broadway Cast)">On
The 20th Century.
again with Barry Corbin in 2003, the two appeared in an award-winning
independent short film, Blackwater
Elegy. Cullum and Corbin played aging fishing buddies facing
their own mortality following the death of a friend. He has a semi-reoccurring
role on Law & Order: SVU as attorney Barry Moredock,
appearing in episodes in 2003 and 2004. On the stage, Cullum appeared
in two less successful productions of Wilder, and the Neil
Simon play, Rose's Dilemma. He returned to his hometown
of Knoxville, Tennessee, to appear with his son, J.D.Cullum,
in Ronald Harwood's The Dresser for the Clarence Brown
Theatre Company.Cullum portrayed the work's vain British stage trouper
to J.D.'s long-suffering dresser. He finished out 2004 as Cardinal
Bernard Law in Michael Murphy's Sin:
A Cardinal Deposed.
has done a variety of voice work, including several audiobooks.
For example he reads a Stephen King audiobook "The
Man in the Black Suit: 4 Dark Tales" (released October
2002). To see additional audiobooks and recordings, see John
Cullum's best recordings on Amazon. Cullum's voice appears in
Ken Burns' Unforgiveable
Blackness, along with fellow NoEx cast member Adam
Arkin.The film premiered Jan. 17, 2005. After turning 75 on
March 2, 2005, John Cullum showed no sign of slowing down. He also
appeared in the NY City Opera's Candide (as both Voltaire
and Dr. Pangloss), and a performance of New York City Center Encores!
Cullum appeared as the father to Robin Williams' character in the film The Night Listener, debuted at Sundance 2006 and now available on DVD. Cullum portrayed Old Max in the broadway musical Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! – The Musical, a limited holiday engagement at the Hilton Theatre from Nov. 8, 2006 through Jan. 7, 2007. Dr. Seuss’ How The Grinch Stole Christmas! – The Musical, according to press notes, is narrated by Max the Dog (Cullum), who relates "the Grinch's fiendish plan to steal Christmas from the holiday-loving Whos. However, the Grinch soon discovers there's more to Christmas than he bargained for." The show will include the songs "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch" and "Welcome Christmas," which are heard in the animated version of the Seuss classic, which is aired annually on television.
In the Spring of 2007, Cullum returned to the stage again as H.C. Curry in 110 Degrees in the Shade. For this role, he received a Tony nomination for Featured-Actor in a Musical. He also made a guest appearance on an episode of Mad Men. John Cullum appeared as the lead character of Cymbeline, a not-often-revived Shakespeare romance, in December through January. Cullum was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in January 2008. Eligible nominees for the Theater Hall of Fame must have a minimum of five major credits and 25 years in the Broadway theatre. In March 2008, Cullum stars in Conscientious Objector. Portraying President Lyndon B. Johnson, Cullum was the first to be cast in the story of American wartime dissent by Michael Murphy. He also narrated Its Memory Alone Remains, a short film about The Battle of Fort Sanders (in the Civil War).
and Upcoming projects:
In early 2009, Cullum appear in August: Osage County. The darkly comic drama, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, concerns an Oklahoma family's reunion after the disappearance of the patriarch (played by Cullum). The show is at the Music Box Theatre, located at 239 West 45th Street.
Cullum will appear in Heroes, scheduled to begin previews at the Clurman Theatre on Feb. 24, 2009 and open on March 8, 2009; its limited run is to end on April 11. Tickets are available by calling (212) 279-4200 or by visiting www.ticketcentral.com. The theatre is located in Manhattan at 410 West 42nd Street.