Michael Jeter
Jeter at the 44th Emmy Awards in 1992
Born(1952-08-26)August 26, 1952
DiedMarch 30, 2003(2003-03-30) (aged 50)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materMemphis State University
  • Actor
  • comedian
Years active1977–2003
PartnerSean Blue (1995–2003)

Michael Jeter (/ˈtər/; August 26, 1952 – March 30, 2003) was an American actor and comedian. Known for his career on stage and screen Jeter played diverse characters taking on roles ranging from eccentric, pretentious, and wimpy characters. He won a Tony Award, and a Primetime Emmy Award. He portrayed Herman Stiles on the sitcom Evening Shade from 1990 until 1994.

Jeter was born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. He studied at Memphis State University and later pursued a career in acting. He made his Broadway debut acting in the musical Once in a Lifetime (1979), followed by G. R. Point. For his role as Otto Kringelein in the musical Grand Hotel (1989) he received a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. He portrayed Giuseppe Zangara in the musical Assassins (1989).

Jeter gained notoriety for his roles in The Fisher King (1991) and The Green Mile (1999). His other notable film roles include in Zelig (1983), Miller's Crossing (1990), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993), Air Bud (1997), Mouse Hunt (1997), Patch Adams (1998), Jurassic Park III (2001), Open Range (2003), and The Polar Express (2004). He also appeared on Sesame Street's Elmo's World as Mister Noodle from 2000 to 2003.

Early life and education

Jeter was born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee on August 26, 1952. His mother, Virginia (née Raines; May 6, 1927 – May 21, 2019), was a housewife. His father, William Claud Jeter (March 10, 1922 – March 1, 2010), was a dentist.[1] Jeter had one brother, William, and four sisters, Virginia, Amanda, Emily, and Lori.[2] Jeter was a student at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) when his interests changed from medicine to acting. He performed in several plays and musicals at the Circuit Theatre and its sister theatre, the Playhouse on the Square, in midtown Memphis. He left Memphis to further pursue his stage career in Baltimore, Maryland.


Jeter's woebegone look, extreme flexibility, and high energy led Tommy Tune to cast him in the off-Broadway play Cloud 9 in 1981.[3] Much of his work specialised in playing eccentric, pretentious, or wimpy characters, as in The Fisher King, Waterworld, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Green Mile and Drop Zone. Occasionally, Jeter was able to stray from type for more diverse characters, such as those he portrayed in Jurassic Park III, Air Bud, and Open Range. Jeter is perhaps most known for his role as convicted felon Eduard Delacroix in The Green Mile, a role for which he was nominated along with the rest of the cast for a Screen Actors Guild Award.

In The Fisher King, Jeter portrayed "an unnamed homeless cabaret singer", and "shimmies across the screen with boundless confidence, turning what might have been a grotesque, or at least merely humorous, part into something noble, even indomitable... In a film unafraid of big acting, Jeter goes bigger than anyone."[4]

He also played Mr. Noodle's brother, Mister Noodle, on Sesame Street from 2000 to 2003. He appeared in an episode of Touched by an Angel in 1999 as Gus, an insurance salesman who arrives in Las Vegas, in the episode "The Man Upstairs".[5] His last two appearances were in the films Open Range and The Polar Express. Both films were in post-production at the time of his death and, when released, contained a dedication to his memory.[6][7] The season 35 premiere of Sesame Street, a special entitled "The Street We Live On", was similarly dedicated to Jeter.

Personal life and death

Jeter was gay and met his partner, Sean Blue, in 1995; they were together until Jeter's death in 2003. Jeter was HIV-positive and disclosed his diagnosis in a 1997 interview on Entertainment Tonight. Despite this, he remained healthy for many years.[8] Jeter also announced while accepting his 1990 Tony that he recovered from substance abuse.[9]

On March 30, 2003, Jeter was found dead by Blue at his home in Hollywood Hills, California. He was 50 years old.[10] Blue said that Jeter died of complications after an epileptic seizure. Jeter was cremated, and his ashes were given to charity.[11]

Acting credits


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Hair Woodrow Sheldon
1981 Ragtime Special Reporter
1982 Soup for One Mr. Kelp
1983 Zelig Freshman No. 2
1986 The Money Pit Arnie
1989 Dead Bang Dr. Alexander Krantz
Tango & Cash Floyd Skinner
1990 Just Like in the Movies Vernon
Miller's Crossing Adolph
1991 The Fisher King Homeless Cabaret Singer
1993 Bank Robber Night Clerk No. 1
Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit Father Ignatius
1994 Drop Zone Earl Leedy
1995 Waterworld Gregor
1997 Air Bud Norm Snively
Mouse Hunt Quincy Thorpe
1998 Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas Dr. L. Ron Bumquist drug expert / guest speaker
The Naked Man 'Sticks' Varona
Thursday Dr. Jarvis
Zack and Reba Oras
Patch Adams Rudy
1999 True Crime Dale Porterhouse
Jakob the Liar Avron
The Green Mile Eduard Delacroix
2000 South of Heaven, West of Hell Uncle Jude
The Gift Gerald Weems
2001 Jurassic Park III Udesky
2002 Welcome to Collinwood 'Toto'
2003 Open Range Percy Posthumous release
2004 The Polar Express Smokey / Steamer Voice only
Posthumous release; Final film role
dedicated in memory


Year Title Role Notes
1979 My Old Man George Gardner Television movie
1980 Another World Arnie Gallo Unknown episodes
From Here to Eternity Private Ridgley Unknown episodes
Lou Grant Max Galt Episode: "Dogs"
1981 Alice at the Palace Caterpillar / Dormouse Television movie
1986 Night Court Confessing Crook Episode: "The Night Off"
1987 Designing Women Calvin Klein Episode: "Old Spouses Never Die – Part 1"
1988 Crime Story Senator Michael Gaspari Episode: "The Hearings"
Hothouse Dr. Art Makter 7 episodes
1990–1994 Evening Shade Herman Stiles 98 episodes
1993–1995 Picket Fences Peter Lebeck 3 episodes
1993 Tales of the City Carson Callas 3 episodes
Gypsy Goldstone Television movie
1994 Aladdin Runtar (voice) Episode: "StinkerBelle"
1995 Chicago Hope Bob Ryan Episode: "A Coupla Stiffs"
1996 Dream On Dr. Enoch Episode: "Finale with a Vengeance"
Suddenly Susan Lawrence Rosewood Episode: "Dr. No"
Mrs. Santa Claus Arvo Television movie
The Boys Next Door Arnold Wiggins Television movie
1997 Duckman Dr. William Blay (voice) Episode: "Ajax & Ajaxer"
Second Noah The Chicken Man Episode: "Diving In"
Murphy Brown Vic Episode: "You Don't Know Jackal"
Johnny Bravo Lawrence The Camel (voice) Episode: "Blarney Buddies/Over the Hump/Johnny Meets Farrah Fawcett"
1998–1999 The Wild Thornberrys Biederman (voice) 4 episodes
1998 Veronica's Closet Edwin Murloff Episode: "Veronica's Blackout"
The Ransom of Red Chief Bill Driscoll Television movie
1999 Touched by an Angel Gus Zimmerman Episode: "The Man Upstairs"
2000–2003 Sesame Street Mr. Noodle's Brother, Mister Noodle Elmo's World segments
2002 Taken William Jeffries Episode: "Taken"
Hey Arnold! Nate Horowitz (voice) Episode: "Gerald's Game/The Fishing Trip"


Year Title Role Notes
1978 Once in a Lifetime Jolson / Bellboy Circle in the Square
1979 G.R. Point Straw Playhouse Theatre, Broadway
1980 Alice in Concert Ensemble The Public Theatre
1981 Cloud 9 Betty / Gerry Lucille Lortel's Theatre de Lys
1982 Greater Tuna Performer Circle in the Square Downtown
1989 Grand Hotel Otto Kringelein Martin Beck Theatre, Broadway
1989 Assassins Giuseppe Zangara Playwrights Horizons

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Project Result Ref.
1991 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Evening Shade Nominated
1992 Won [12]
1993 Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Picket Fences Nominated
1995 Outstanding Guest Actor in a Drama Series Chicago Hope Nominated
1992 Golden Globe Award Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Television Evening Shade Nominated
1999 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Ensemble in a Motion Picture The Green Mile Nominated
1990 Tony Award Best Actor in a Musical Grand Hotel Won [13]
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Won [14]
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Actor in a Musical Won
Clarence Derwent Prize Won
1979 Theatre World Award G.R. Point Won


  1. ^ "William Claude Jeter (1943)". University of Tennessee. March 10, 2010. Archived from the original on March 5, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  2. ^ "Michael Jeter, 50, Dies; Won Acting Prizes". The New York Times. April 2, 2003. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  3. ^ "Cloud 9". Lortel Archives. Archived from the original on February 28, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  4. ^ Koresky, Michael. "Michael's Turn: Michael Jeter in The Fisher King". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved February 2, 2021.
  5. ^ "Touched By An Angel Episode 516: "The Man Upstairs"". Touched.com. February 21, 1999. Archived from the original on December 3, 2012. Retrieved February 23, 2013.
  6. ^ Rooney, David (October 24, 2004). "Review: 'The Polar Express'". Variety. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  7. ^ Open Range film credits.
  8. ^ "Healthy Despite His Hiv, Jeter Says It's Nothing To Hide". Sun Sentinel. December 6, 1999. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  9. ^ Ferber, Lawrence (May 13, 2003). "In memoriam. Michael Jeter". The Advocate (889). Here Publishing: 62. ISSN 0001-8996.
  10. ^ Cosgrove-Mather, Bootie (August 31, 2004). "Actor Michael Jeter Dead At 52". CBS News. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  11. ^ "Corrections". The Advocate. Here. September 17, 2004. p. 6. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  12. ^ "'Sesame Street' actor Michael Jeter dies". United Press International, Inc. Los Angeles. April 1, 2003. Retrieved September 15, 2018.
  13. ^ "Michael Jeter: Biography". MSN Entertainment. Archived from the original on December 3, 2013. Retrieved February 28, 2014.
  14. ^ Michael Jeter, 50; 'Mr. Noodle' on Sesame Street by Myrna Oliver, Times Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2003.