Thomas Roy "Tom" Skerritt (born August 25, 1933) is an American actor who has appeared in more than forty films and more than two hundred television episodes since 1962. He is known for his roles in MASH, Alien, Top Gun, A River Runs Through It, Up in Smoke, and the television series Picket Fences.
Skerritt was born in Detroit, Michigan, the son of Helen, a homemaker, and Roy Skerritt, a businessman. A 1951 graduate of Detroit's Mackenzie High School, Skerritt attended Wayne State University and the University of California, Los Angeles. Skerritt served in the United States Air Force.
Skerritt made his film debut in War Hunt, produced by Terry Sanders and released in 1962. Skerritt's notable film appearances include MASH (1970), Harold and Maude (credited as "M. Borman", 1971), Big Bad Mama, Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke (1978), Ice Castles (1978), as Captain Dallas in Alien (1979), as a would-be astronaut in Contact (1997) and SpaceCamp (1986), and in Top Gun (1986) as Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf. In 1988, he starred with Nancy Allen and Lara Flynn Boyle in Poltergeist III.
Skerritt guest-starred in the television series The Real McCoys (1963), as a letter carrier in the episode "Aunt Win Steps In". He was cast in Bonanza in 1964 and on Death Valley Days in 1965, as a young gambler, Patrick Hogan, who meets a tragic fate after winning a small fortune. In another Death Valley Days episode, "A Sense of Justice" (1966), he played a young Roy Bean in San Diego, California, c. 1850, with his older brother, Joshua Bean, played by Tris Coffin.
He also appeared in the ABC series, Twelve O'Clock High (1964-1967), five episodes; Gunsmoke (1965-1972), also five episodes), and as Evan Drake on Cheers. He then appeared in CBS's Picket Fences (1992â"1996), in the role of Sheriff Jimmy Brock, for which he won an Emmy Award. More recently, he has starred in Homeland Security and The Grid.
He portrayed the deceased William Walker on Brothers and Sisters, having appeared in the pilot as well as in several flashbacks scenes. This was his second time playing the husband of Sally Field, the first having been in Steel Magnolias, set in Natchitoches, Louisiana.
He played the role of Ezekiel on ABC Family's Fallen miniseries. He also appeared as the guide on the showcase website for Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system. He lent his voice in the 2005 video game Gun, where he voices as Clay Allison.
He guest-starred in seasons three and four of Leverage as Nate Ford's father.
In February 2012, Skerritt played the title role in Pacific Northwest Ballet's production of Don Quixote.
In 2014, Skerritt was reunited with ex-Picket Fences co-star, Lauren Holly, to star with her in Field of Lost Shoes.
Skerritt is a co-founder of TheFilmSchool, in which he is also an instructor.
Since 1988, he has divided his domestic life between his Lake Washington home in suburban Seattle, Washington, and a second home on Lopez Island in the San Juan Islands. Skerritt has three sons and one daughter and an adopted daughter with his current wife.
Awards and nominations
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards
- 1998: Nominated, "Favorite Supporting Actor in a Drama" - Contact
DVD Exclusive Awards
- 2003: Won, "Best Audio Commentary" - Alien
- 1993: Won, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" - Picket Fences
- 1994: Nominated, "Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series" - Picket Fences
- 1982: Nominated, "Best Performance by a Foreign Actor" - Silence of the North
Golden Globe Awards
- 1994: Nominated, "Best Performance By an Actor in a Dramatic TV series" - Picket Fences
- 1995: Nominated, "Best Performance By an Actor in a Dramatic TV series" - Picket Fences
National Board of Review of Motion Pictures
- 1977: Won, "Best Supporting Actor" - The Turning Point
- 2011: Won, "Best Guest Performer on Television" - Leverage
Screen Actors Guild Awards
- 1995: Nominated, "Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series" - Picket Fences
- 1995: Nominated, "Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series" - Picket Fences
- 1996: Nominated, "Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series" - Picket Fences
Western Heritage Awards
- 1999: Won, "Best Television Feature Film" - Two for Texas
- Tom Skerritt at the Internet Movie Database
- PersonRatings Profile