Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In 1953, Plimpton joined the influential literary journal The Paris Review, founded by Peter Matthiessen , Thomas H. Guinzburg , and Harold L. Humes , becoming its first editor in chief. This periodical carries great weight in the literary world but has never been financially strong; for its first half-century, Ŝit was largely financed by its publishers and by Plimpton.
At Harvard, Plimpton was a classmate and close personal friend of Robert Kennedy. Plimpton, along with former decathlete Rafer Johnson, was credited with helping wrestle Sirhan Sirhan to the ground when Kennedy was assassinated following his victory in the 1968 California Democratic primary at the old Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.
Plimpton was famous for competing in professional sporting events and then recording the experience from the point of view of an amateur. In 1960, prior to the second of baseball's two All-Star games, Plimpton pitched against the National League. His experience was captured in the book Out Of My League. (He intended to face both line-ups, but tired badly and was relieved by Ralph Houk .) Plimpton sparred for three rounds with boxing greats Archie Moore and Sugar Ray Robinson, while on assignment for Sports Illustrated. In 1963, Plimpton attended pre-season training with the Detroit Lions as a backup quarterback and ran a few plays from scrimmage in an exhibition game. These events were recalled in his best-known book Paper Lion. A further book, Open Net , saw him train as an ice hockey goalie with the Boston Bruins. Among other challenges for Sports Illustrated, he attempted to play top-level bridge, and spent some time as a high-wire circus performer. Some of these events, another attempt at professional football, and an attempt at stand-up comedy, were presented on the ABC television network as a series of specials.
Plimpton also appeared in a number of feature films, as an extra and in cameo appearances. He was also notable for his appearance in television commercials during the early 1980s, advertising Intellivision sports video games for Mattel. He appeared in an episode of The Simpsons as host of the "Spellympics" and had a recurring role as the grandfather of the Dr. Carter character on the long-running NBC medical television series, ER.
Plimpton died of natural causes at his apartment in New York City at the age of 76.
- Out Of My League
- Paper Lion about his experience playing professional football
- The Bogey Man about his experiences travelling with the PGA TOUR
- Open Net
- Mad Ducks and Bears
- One More July about the last NFL training camp of former Packer and future coach Bill Curry
- The Curious Case of Sidd Finch; a novel that was an extension of an Sports Illustrated April fool piece about a fictitious baseball pitcher who could throw over 160 mph (250 km/h)
- Truman Capote
Film appearances (selected)
- Rio Lobo (1970)
- Reds (1981)
- Volunteers 1985
- The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
- Little Man Tate (1991)
- L.A. Story (1991)
- Just Cause (1995)
- Nixon (1995)
- Good Will Hunting (1997) as Dr. Henry Lipkin, Psychologist
- The Last Days of Disco (1998)
Television guest appearances (selected)
- ER, playing "John Truman Carter, Sr.," 1998 & 2001
- Saturday Night Live, as himself, uncredited, 1999 & 2002
- A Nero Wolfe Mystery, playing various roles in 10 episodes, 2001-02
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