Michael Jeter

Versatile character player of the NYC stage with a mild Tennessee twang who is best known for his Emmy award-winning portrayal of likeable dweeb Herman Stiles, assistant coach to Burt Reynolds on the southern fried sitcom "Evening Shade" (CBS, 1990-94). Jeter first gained acclaim--and a Tony award--for his featured turn as the dying clerical worker (played in the original film by Lionel Barrymore) in the Broadway hit "Grand Hotel, The Musical" (1990). His off-Broadway and off-off-Broadway credits have included "The Boys Next Door," "Greater Tuna," and "Cloud 9." Jeter's film and TV credits extend back to 1979 when he made his feature debut with a small role in Milos Forman's film version of "Hair." He has appeared in a number of TV-movies and miniseries including "Gypsy" (CBS, 1993), starring Bette Midler, and "Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City" (PBS, 1994). Jeter has fared well playing extreme characters, such as in his small but indelible role as a homeless cabaret singer with AIDS in Terry Gilliam's "The Fisher King" (1991). He was nominated for another Emmy for playing a decidedly eccentric frog breeder in a 1993 episode of the quirky CBS-TV drama "Picket Fences"--a part written specially for him. Back on the big screen, Jeter provided sturdy comic support to Whoopi Goldberg in "Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" (1993), proved adept in the Wesley Snipes actioner "Drop Zone" (1994) as a nerdy computer whiz wanted by both the cops and the crooks. In an emotional TV interview with Jann Carl of "Entertainment Tonight" in July 1997, Jeter disclosed that he had tested positive for HIV. He remained active in the industry, though, turning in a fine performance as a Cajun death row inmate in the Oscar-nominated "The Green Mile" (1999) and joining the cast of the long-running PBS children's series "Sesame Street" in 2000 as Mr. Noodle in the "Elmo's World" segments. After a turn in the high-profile sequel "Jurassic Park III" (2001) Jeter had a notable supporting turn as one of the loveable losers hoping for a big heist in "Welcome to Colinwood" (2002) and was tapped by director-star Kevin Costner to appear in the Western "Open Range" (2003). The actor had just completed a turn in a Performance Capture suit to film his dual role as the CGI characters Smokey and Steamer in the Robert Zemeckis-directed "The Polar Express" (2004), again opposite Hanks, when he died unexpectedly of undetermined causes.