Michael J. Shannon

Michael J. Shannon (born January 24, 1943), also billed as Michael Shannon, is an American actor and playwright.


Shannon has a cult following due to his appearances in cult classics such as Little Shop of Horrors, Red Dwarf, Future Cop and We'll Meet Again, the last two being his most substantial television roles, as Officer John Haven and Major James Kiley respectively.

Shannon was born in Chicago. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Theatre Arts from Northwestern University (whose School of Communication grants Bachelor of Science degrees in all of its programs of study, including theater). He subsequently received a Master of Arts in Oral Interpretation from Northwestern.[1][2]

In addition to his filmography, he has maintained substantial theatrical acting credits throughout his career, including the British premiere of Arthur Kopit’s The End of the World with Symposium to Follow in Southampton (Nuffield Theatre) and the London premiere of A. R. Gurney’s The Dining Room (Greenwich Theatre, 1983, directed by Alan Strachan)[3]. In 2013 he gave 4 benefit performances in aid of Amnesty international of the monumental one-man play Clarence Darrow by David V. Rintels, based on the life of the lawyer and founding member of the American Civil Liberties Union, at the Teahouse Theatre in Vauxhall, London.[4]

The first play he authored, Deros On the Funny Farm, was first produced at the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven in 1981 with Kevin Bacon in the lead.[5]

Theme of the American President

A recurring feature of his career, in acting and writing, is the figure of the American president. He portrayed John F. Kennedy in the BBC television series Red Dwarf, starred in two episodes of the ABC television series Call to Glory named 'JFK' (parts 1 and 2, though not as the president) and has written and starred in a one-man play, JFK on JFK.[6] Hoyt Hilsman, in reviewing the play for Backstage West, wrote, “Shannon’s memorable performance captures the soul of the late president like none other in recent memory.”[7]

Shannon took the role of Harding in James Staley's play about the scandal-plagued American president Warren G. Harding, Everyone's Friend, which premiered in August 1999 at Whitefire Theatre.[8] Los Angeles Times critic Philip Brandes wrote that "Shannon makes a heartbreakingly believable case for Harding's ignorance of and outrage at the abuses of his Cabinet."[9]

Shannon portrayed Abraham Lincoln in a play he also authored, Watching with Lincoln, produced at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2014.[10]

His play Liberty Rising is set in the Revolutionary War featuring George Washington and John Adams alongside their wives Martha and Abigail.[11]

Personal life

Shannon was the second husband of the late British-born actress Vickery Turner. He and Turner met during the American season of Frith Banbury's production of the play The Day After The Fair by Frank Harvey[12], which opened on September 4th, 1973 at the Auditorium Theatre in Denver, Colorado and closed January 20th, 1974 at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC.[13][14] Shannon played the role of Bradford and Turner the role of Anna.[15] Their daughter Caitlin is also an actress and writer.


  1. "Interview". reddwarf.co.uk.
  2. "Out of the shadows". worldcat.org.
  3. "ROB WILTON THEATRICALIA - Other Plays 1980-89". www.phyllis.demon.co.uk. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  4. "Clarence Darrow | Susannah Tresilian". www.susannahtresilian.com. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  5. "Westport News Newspaper Archives, May 27, 1981, p. 54". NewspaperArchive.com. 1981-05-27. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  6. Martinez, Julio (2000-09-11). "JFK on JFK". Variety. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  7. "JFK ON JFK". Backstage.com. Retrieved 2018-01-21.
  8. "World Premiere of Everyone's Friend at L.A.'s Whitefire, Aug. 27 | Playbill". Playbill. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  9. BRANDES, PHILIP (1999-09-02). "Stage Review : Presidential Tactics : Scandal masterfully reigns in Warren G. Harding's administration in 'Everyone's Friend.'". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  10. "A play about Abraham Lincoln - The London Expat American Meetup Group (London, England)". www.meetup.com. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  11. "Current News". michael j shannon. Retrieved 2018-01-27.
  12. Graham, David (2007). Casting About: A Memoir. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse Publishing. p. 123. ISBN 9780595177707.
  13. Bruguiere, Ron (2011). Collision: When Reality and Illusion Collide. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse. p. 161. ISBN 978-1456725235.
  14. "Deborah Kerr "DAY AFTER THE FAIR" Brenda Forbes 1974 FLOP Washington Playbill at Amazon's Entertainment Collectibles Store". www.amazon.com. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
  15. "The Stanford Daily 18 October 1973 — The Stanford Daily". stanforddailyarchive.com. Retrieved 2018-01-22.
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