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William Atherton Bio, Life, and Career:
William Atherton received his degree in acting from the Drama School at Carnegie Tech in 1969 after completing his studies at Carnegie Mellon University. Atherton found rapid success on the New York stage after graduating, and he collaborated with several of the most prominent playwrights in the country, such as David Rabe, John Guare, and Arthur Miller. As a result of their collaboration, Atherton won a number of prizes for his work on and off Broadway.
He was cast in the role of the hapless fugitive Clovis Poplin in The Sugarland Express (1974), which was Steven Spielberg’s first feature picture. This role led to his big break. After this, he went on to play significant parts in a number of critically acclaimed films, including the gloomy comedies The Day of the Locust (1975) and Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977), as well as the high-budget disaster movie The Hindenburg (1975).
Atherton also played the role of cowboy Jim Lloyd in the 1978 miniseries Centennial, which was adapted from James Michener’s novel of the same name. In the 1984 comedy Ghostbusters, he played the role of Walter Peck, the pompous and superior Environmental Protection Agency agent. According to what K. Thor Jensen wrote, “Atherton, who plays cowardly EPA lawyer Walter Peck, is the real villain of the movie (his releasing the ghosts from the containment unit added to the chaos in New York), he was so hated that after the movie came out he was harassed on the street and challenged to fights in bars.”
In the 1985 teen comedy Real Genius, written and directed by Martha Coolidge, Atherton was cast in the role of Professor Jerry Hathaway. Atherton portrayed the character of reporter Richard “Dick” Thornburg in the blockbuster action film Die Hard (1988), and he went on to repeat the role in the film’s sequel, Die Hard 2 (1990).
Other works that he has contributed to include the movies No Mercy (1986), The Pelican Brief (1993), Bio-Dome (1996), Mad City (1997), The Crow: Salvation (2000), The Last Samurai (2003), and Grim Prairie Tales (1990), as well as the television movies Buried Alive (1990), Headspace (2005), and Virus (1995). In addition, he has appeared as a guest on a number of popular television shows, including The Twilight Zone, Murder, She Wrote, Desperate Housewives, Law & Order, The Equalizer, Boston Legal, Castle, and Monk, among others.
On the television show Justice League, Atherton gave the voice of Dr. Destiny. He appeared in multiple episodes of the NBC police procedural program Life. While Atherton was appearing in The Day of the Locust, he was presented with the opportunity to provide lead vocals for “What’ll I Do,” the major title theme for the film adaptation of The Great Gatsby directed by Robert Redford.
Atherton gladly accepted this opportunity. In 2007, he appeared in a number of films, one of which was an adaptation of the best-selling novel of the same name written by Jack Ketchum. The film was called The Girl Next Door. Additionally, he reprised his role as Walter Peck in the video game adaptation of Ghostbusters, which was published on June 16, 2009.
Atherton has been given a role in the concluding season of Lost on ABC. In 2011, he gave a performance at the Reprise Theatre in Los Angeles under the stage name “Honoré Lachailles” in the musical Gigi.
After completing his work on the musical, he went on to play a humorous role in Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (2012), which was produced by Will Ferrell’s Funny or Die, Gary Sanchez Productions, and Abso Lutely Productions. Gary Sanchez was one of the producers of the film.
Atherton was cast as Viceroy Mercado, a recurring character, in the second season of the Syfy television series Defiance during the summer of 2014.
Atherton features in a number of future documentaries on his most iconic films and was a co-star in the suspense film Clinical, which was released on Netflix in 2017. The first of these films, Cleanin’ Up the Town: Remembering Ghostbusters, will be released in 2019, and it will feature the original cast from the 1984 film.
Since the 8th of December in 1980, Atherton has been happily married to the writer Bobbi Goldin. In 1981, when appearing on the Phil Donahue show, William Atherton asserted that he had been homosexual in the past but had altered his sexual orientation as a result of Eli Siegel’s Aesthetic Realism.
In more recent years, Atherton has participated as a singer in a variety of projects. In 2011, he performed “I Remember It Well,” a classic song from Gigi, alongside his former Reprise Theater co-star, Millicent Martin, at a performance in Palm Springs for Michael Childers’ One Night Only, which benefited the Jewish Family Service of the Desert. The show was sold out, and the proceeds went to the organization. In 2013, he performed at the same event, which was completely sold out, singing the timeless classic “Isn’t It Romantic?”
Atherton and Stephanie Zimbalist were among the readers who participated in the Gregory Peck Reading Series, which was organized by the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and conducted for the benefit of the Los Angeles Public Library. Roddy McDowall acted as the event’s host for the gathering.
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