Tom Skerritt Biography

Actor (1933–)
Tom Skerritt is an American actor best known for his film roles in M*A*S*H, Alien, Top Gun, and A River Runs Through It. He won an Emmy in 1993 for his TV role as Sheriff Jimmy Brock in Picket Fences.


Tom Skerritt was born on August 25, 1933 in Detroit, Michigan. He starred in his first major acting role in the the film War Hunt (1962) and built a prolific film and television career. He is best known for his roles in M*A*S*H, Alien, Top Gun, and A River Runs Through It and won an Emmy in 1993 for his TV role as Sheriff Jimmy Brock in Picket Fences. He is co-founder of the Seattle-based film program, TheFilmSchool.

Early Life

Raised by his stay-at-home mother and small business owner father, Skerritt graduated high school in 1951 and immediately enrolled in the Air Force, where he served for four years. He attended Wayne State University in Detroit where he dabbled in acting but later transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles to hone his craft. By the time he graduated from college, Skerritt was already married to his first wife and had one child.

Film Career

Skerritt made his film debut in 1962 in War Hunt, then continued acting on the big screen in M*A*S*H, Harold and Maude, The Turning PointUp in Smoke, and Alien. In the 1980s, he appeared in Space Camp, Poltergeist III, Steel Magnolias, and most notably, Top Gun, as Commander Mike "Viper" Metcalf, opposite Tom Cruise. He continued finding solid roles in the '90s, starring in Robert Redford's A River Runs Through It and Robert Zemeckis' film Contact, which also starred Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey. Most recently, he starred in the American war drama, Field of Lost Shoes (2014), playing Ulysses S. Grant.

Television Career

Just like his impressive film career, Skerritt had success on the small screen. He guest starred in The Real McCoys and also appeared in shows like Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Cheers, and Picket Fences, for which he won an Emmy Award in 1993. In 2006 he played deceased patriarch William Walker on ABC's Brothers and Sisters and starred in the ABC Family mini series Fallen that same year. He's also appeared in Homeland SecurityThe GridLeverage, and The Good Wife.

Tom Skerritt Photo

Tom Skerritt during Vanity Fair Toasts Guess? In Celebration Of The Dream Denim Makers 20th Anniversary at The Wilshire Ebell Theatre in Los Angeles, 2002. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images)

Personal Life

Skerritt and his first wife, Charlotte Shanks, married in 1952 and have three children — Andy (born 1962), Erin (born 1964) Matt (born 1969). They divorced in 1972, and Skerritt married his second wife, Susan Ellen Aran, in 1976. They have a son, Colin (born 1978), and were divorced in 1994. Skerritt married his third and current wife Julie Tokashiki in 1998. He divides his time between Seattle, Washington and the San Juan Islands. 

In 2003 Skerritt co-founded TheFilmSchool, a nonprofit training program for directing and screenwriting, where he is also an instructor.

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