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Intersections: The Indefatigable John Lithgow

John Lithgow
John Lithgow

On the TV series Third Rock from the Sun, actor John Lithgow played an alien disguised as a college professor in a small Ohio town. The scenario wasn't so far off from the actor's real life: Lithgow grow up the son of a classically trained actor and college professor in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

Arthur Lithgow died in March of heart failure. He was 88. As Father's Day approaches, Lithgow reflects on his father's influence on his own career for Intersections, a series on artists' inspirations. NPR's Noah Adams reports.

Arthur Lithgow swung between teaching and producing classical repertory theater, creating a Shakespeare festival at Antioch College. The younger Lithgow made his stage debut in Henry VI, Part 3 at age 6.

"My family was like a gypsy wagon following him around," John Lithgow recalls. "It sort of left me open to creative thought."

For Lithgow, creativity has translated into a life of myriad projects, as well as Tony and Emmy awards and two Oscar nominations. In addition to his work in film and on stage and TV, Lithgow has written books and composed CDs for children. This fall, Lithgow will star in the world premiere of the musical Dirty Rotten Scoundrels at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego.

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Noah Adams, long-time co-host of NPR's All Things Considered, brings more than three decades of radio experience to his current job as a contributing correspondent for NPR's National Desk., focusing on the low-wage workforce, farm issues, and the Katrina aftermath. Now based in Ohio, he travels extensively for his reporting assignments, a position he's held since 2003.