Childhood & Early Life
Lewis Michael Arquette was born in Chicago, Illinois, on December 14, 1935, to Mildred Nesbitt Le May and Cliff Arquette. His father, Cliff, was an actor. This influenced Lewis greatly when he was growing up. Lewis had decided to become an actor ever since he was a child.
Lewis started his acting career in Chicago and managed an improvisational theater group named ‘The Second City.’ In his late 20s, Lewis developed an interest in spirituality and moved to a Subud community, which was defined as a “hippie commune.” He stayed there until the mid-1970s and then moved to Los Angeles to start a career in acting.
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After appearing in a small role in the 1965 movie ‘The Very Naked Canvas,’ he made his full-fledged acting debut in 1977, with the role of ‘Officer Hertzig’ in the TV series ‘Alice.’ The same year, he appeared in a small role (‘Friar Laurence’) in the series titled ‘Man from Atlantis.’
In 1978, he appeared in three episodes of the series ‘Lou Grant, namely, ‘Hero’, ‘Sports,’ and ‘Airliner.’ The same year, he also made small appearances in TV movies such as ‘Rescue from Gilligan’s Island,’ ‘Peeping Times,’ and ‘Ruby and Oswald.’
In 1978, he had a small acting breakthrough when he was offered the recurring role of ‘Jefferson Davis “JD” Pickett’ in the series ‘The Waltons.’ He played the role in 11 episodes of the series, stretching into the early 1980s.
The early 1980s also did not bring enough success to Lewis. He was restricted to small roles in films such as ‘Pray TV’ and ‘Off the Wall.’ Additionally, he also played guest roles in series such as ‘The Incredible Hulk’ (as ‘Les Creaseman’), ‘Simon & Simon’ (as ‘Matt’), ‘Dallas,’ and ‘Remington Steele’ (as ‘Stuart Thorpe’).
However, in 1984, Lewis scored a big opportunity, as he was offered a voice role (the second lead, ‘Dr. Watson’) in the 1984 series titled ‘Sherlock Hound.’ It was an Italian–Japanese animated series co-written by famed animator Hayao Miyazaki and was a critical and commercial success. The series stopped in 1985, following some legal issues.
Lewis continued playing small roles in series such as ‘The Fall Guy’ and ‘Sledge Hammer!’ In 1986, he appeared in the supporting role of ‘Mr. Fry’ in the film ‘Nobody’s Fool,’ starring his daughter Rosanna Arquette in a leading role.
In 1985, he had yet another breakthrough when he was offered the supporting role of ‘Lucas Buchanan’ in the series titled ‘Rocky Road.’ He played his role in 50 episodes of the series. It was a commercial and critical success.
He also appeared as the voice of ‘Superfly Jimmy Snuka’ in ‘Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling’ in the mid-1980s and then appeared in small roles in series such as ‘ALF’ and ‘ABC Afterschool Specials.’ Additionally, he also lent his voice to the animated series ‘The Smurfs.’
In the late 1980s, he frequently appeared in supporting roles in TV films, such as ‘My First Love’ and ‘A Very Brady Christmas.’ During this time, he also appeared in a few feature films, such as ‘Tango & Cash’ and ‘Chopper Chicks in Zombietown.’
Lewis began the 1990s with the supporting role of ‘Bombastic Bobby’ in the comedy series ‘Yo Yogi!’ He appeared in nine episodes of the series. He also lent his voice to ‘Rex DeForest III’ in the animated series titled ‘Camp Candy.’
In the mid-1990s, Lewis appeared in films such as ‘Kiss & Tell,’ ‘Born Bad,’ and ‘The Alarmist.’ He also appeared in the miniseries ‘Murder One: Diary of a Serial Killer’ and then appeared in multiple voice roles in the animated series ‘Spawn.’
Even after facing heart health issues in the late 1990s, Lewis appeared in series such as ‘Freakylinks’ (as ‘Bob Frewer’) and ‘As Told by Ginger’ (voice role, ‘Mr. Cilia’). The 2001 movie ‘Out Cold’ turned out to be the last film of his life.
Lewis had also written a few episodes of series such as ‘The Lorenzo and Henrietta Music Show’ and ‘Rocky Road.’ He was also an executive producer of the former. He also wrote the TV film ‘Prime Times.’
Family & Personal Life
Lewis Michael Arquette married Brenda Denaut (Nowak) in 1963. The couple stayed together until 1997, the year Brenda died from breast cancer.
The couple had five children together: Rosanna, Richmond, Patricia, Alexis, and David. All the siblings are now actors, with Rosanna and Patricia Arquette being the most popular of them all.
During the final years of his life, Lewis turned to Islam and got converted officially. However, none of his children converted to Islam.
Lewis died from congestive heart failure on February 10, 2001. He was 65 years of age at the time of his death.