Tom Atkins
Tom Atkins - IMDb
Tom Atkins guest stars on M*A*S*H as Maj. Lawrence Weems in the episode "The Tooth Shall Set You Free" in Season 10 of the series.
Personal Information
Gender: Male
Born: (1935-11-13) November 13, 1935 (age 82)
Birthplace Pittsburgh, Peensylvania, U.S.
Character information
Appeared on/in: M*A*S*H TV series
Episodes appeared in: "The Tooth Shall Set You Free" (Season 10)
Character played: Major Lawrence Weems

Tom Atkins (born November 13, 1935) is an American television and film actor. He makes a guest appearance on the CBS-TV M*A*S*H in Season 10 as Major Lawrence Weems, a racist commander who wants blacks out of his unit in the episode "The Tooth Shall Set You Free".


Early lifeEdit

Atkins was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Dorothy E. (née Williams) and George C. Atkins.[1] During his childhood, Atkins was a fan of horror and science fiction, one of his best loved films being the Howard Hawks classic The Thing from Another World.[2] He initially had no desire to be an actor. His father worked in a Steel Mill in Pennsylvania and Atkins assumed that he would follow in his father's footsteps. He then enlisted in the Navy and 'noticed that the officers lived great, but that was only because they had gone to college'[3] and so, after leaving the Navy, Atkins signed up for college where he met a girl who was involved in a theatre group. Tom attended Duquesne University in Pittsburgh and was a member of the Gamma Phi Fraternity. He says: 'I was in my 20s already when I got interested in acting and I liked it a lot'.


Atkins began his career in stage plays both on-and-off Broadway, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television. His first movie role was in The Detective, which starred Frank Sinatra. Talking of his experience working on his first feature film - and with Sinatra - Atkins says: 'It was great! It was intimidating and frightening and scary but Frank was great. He was very easy to work with. He didn't like to do a lot of takes. But then it's not like we were doing Shakespeare'.

After many appearances in TV series and movies - often playing police detectives - Atkins began working within the horror and science fiction genres. He starred in two films directed by John Carpenter: he appeared as Nick Castle in the 1980 ghost story The Fog and as Rehme in the 1981 science fiction thriller Escape from New York. He then took a leading role as Dr. Dan Challis in the sequel Halloween III: Season of the Witch directed by Tommy Lee Wallace and produced by John Carpenter.[4]

Tom did further work with George A. Romero appearing in three of the latter's projects: in the Romero-Stephen King project, Creepshow (1982), in which he plays the overbearing father of a young Joe Hill (King's son) in the wraparound segment; then in another anthology, Two Evil Eyes (1990), based upon tales by Edgar Allan Poe; and Bruiser (2000).[5] He portrayed Detective Ray Cameron in the 1986 cult horror film Night of the Creeps, a role Atkins calls his very favorite. As he recallsin an interview with Classic-Horror magazine:

"It was the most fun film I've ever worked on. It was a pure giggle from beginning to end. The director Fred Dekker was very young and very talented and he went on to do The Monster Squad afterwards. I think he wrote a terrific film that was kind of a big put-on of 50s horror. And I had great lines in that movie!"

He has nevertheless continued to act in both the thriller and police procedural genre. He is well known to movie goers for his role as Michael Hunsaker in the Richard Donner] hit film Lethal Weapon (1987), with Mel Gibson, Danny Glover, and Gary Busey; the film was produced by Donner and Joel Silver, written by Shane Black. He also took a role in the action-thriller, Striking Distance (1993), alongside Bruce Willis, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Tom Sizemore. In television, Atkins played Lt. Alex Diehl in the 1970s television series The Rockford Files with series star James Garner. He reprised his role of Commander Diehl for a series of Rockford Files movies in the 1990s.

Tom has made numerous guest appearances on many popular television shows, including Baretta, Harry O, The Fall Guy, Xena: Warrior Princess, Walker, Texas Ranger, Oz, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent.[6]

Current acting workEdit

He is a frequent player in shows in the Pittsburgh theatre scene, most famously in the one-man show The Chief at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, in which he depicted the late founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Art Rooney. Also at the Public, he played the title role in Macbeth, opposite Jean Smart s Lady Macbeth and Keith Fowler as Macduff. He was the star of A Musical Christmas Carol at the Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, portraying the character of Ebenezer Scrooge. He appeared on Broadway in David Storey's The Changing Room, for which he received the 1973 Drama Desk Award for Most Promising Performer.

In 2009, he had a supporting role as a retired sheriff in the remake My Bloody Valentine 3-D[7] and co-starred with Nicolas Cage in Todd Farmer's Drive Angry, in 2011.[8] Atkins is scheduled to have a lead role in Patrick Lussier's Halloween 3D.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Atkins' first wife was actress Garn Stephens, who appeared in Halloween III: Season of the Witch. Following the couple's divorce, he married Janis Lee Rodgers on March 15, 1986, with whom he has one child, Taylor.[10]


  1. Tom Atkins Biography (1935-)
  2. Atkins, Tom, The Internet Movie Database, [accessed] 17 April 2011.
  3. Fallows, Tom, Tom Atkins Interview (Night of the Creeps), Classic-Horror Web Zine 14 October 2009.
  4. 'Drive Angry' Casting That Will Surely "Thrill" You.
  5. Tom Atkins, Internet Movie Database, [accessed] April 14, 2011.
  6. Tom Atkins talks “DRIVE ANGRY”…and “HALLOWEEN III”!
  7. Monster-Mania 14 Guest List Grows. DreadCentral.
  8. Exclusive: Tom Atkins is BACK and Ready to Drive Angry. DreadCentral.
  9. Tom Atkins Talks Halloween 3D. DreadCentral.
  10. Tom Atkins Biography (1935-). Retrieved on 18 December 2011.

External linkEdit