Childhood & Early Life
Timothy Lewis Matheson was born on December 31, 1947, in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale in California, USA, to Timothy Matheson and Sally Matheson. He also has a sister, Sue.
Interested in acting from a very young age, his parents signed him up for an acting class when he was just 10 years old.
In 1961, when he was just 13 years old, he got his first break on the comedy TV series ‘Window on Main Street’ playing the character ‘Roddy Miller’.
He followed it up with small parts in comedies like ‘Leave It to Beaver’ and ‘My Three Sons’ from 1962-63.
In 1964, he lent his voice to the lead character ‘Jonny Quest’ in the super hit Hanna-Barbera children’s animated TV series of the same name. In doing so, he earned much fame among an entire generation of ‘Jonny Quest’ fans and became an in-demand voiceover artist too.
From 1965-68, many more voiceover roles followed, mostly in other Hanna-Barbera animated series like ‘Sinbad Jr. and his Magic Belt’ and ‘Space Ghost’.
He graduated from California State University, Northridge, California.
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In 1968, Tim Matheson landed his first-ever movie role as ‘Mike Beardsley’ in the Lucille Ball-Henry Fonda starrer film ‘Yours, Mine and Ours’.
From 1969-75, he gained experience working on television Western series like ‘The Virginian’ and ‘Bonanza’ and small appearances in films like ‘Magnum Force’ and TV shows like ‘The D.A.’, ‘The Night Gallery’, ‘Here’s Lucy’, ‘Three for the Road’, etc.
In 1976, he joined actor, Kurt Russell, for a short-lived Western drama series ‘The Quest’ that chronicled the journey of two brothers travelling cross-country in search of their sister. But the series did not do well and was cancelled before all the 15 episodes could be aired.
His breakout movie role came in 1978, when he bagged the part of smooth-talking ‘Eric ‘Otter’ Stratton’ in the fraternity-house comedy film ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’, which became an instant hit and developed a cult fan-following.
In 1979, he acted in a few more movies like ‘Dreamer’, ‘The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again’ and in the Steven Spielberg period-comedy film ‘1941’.
In 1980, he lost out to Harrison Ford for the role of ‘Indiana Jones’ in the movie ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’.
From 1982-84, he performed in comedy films like ‘To Be or Not to Be’ and ‘Up the Creek’. He also played one of the two lead characters in the comedy-detective TV series ‘Tucker’s Witch’, and made his directorial debut for an episode of the medical drama series ‘St. Elsewhere’.
In 1985, he recorded the narration for Disney’s revival of the animated film ‘Fantasia’.
While he continued acting in films and on TV, in 1989, Matheson and his business partner purchased the failing ‘National Lampoon’ magazine, hoping to reverse its fortunes. But they were unable to do and had to eventually sell it off.
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In 1990, he made his debut as a film producer with the samurai action-comedy film ‘Blind Fury’.
From 1994-1995, he also directed a few television movies like ‘Breach of Conduct’ and ‘Tails You Live, Heads You’re Dead’.
From 1996-98, he took on many acting jobs in films like ‘A Very Brady Sequel’, ‘A Very Unlucky Leprechaun’, ‘An Unfinished Affair’, etc. He even directed television films like ‘Buried Alive II’ and lent his voice to a character in the animated TV series ‘The New Batman Adventures.’
In 1999, he bagged the most prestigious role of his TV career, that of ‘Vice President John Hoynes’ on the hit political drama ‘The West Wing’. He played the Emmy nominated recurring role in the series for about seven years.
From 2000-02, he acted in several TV films like ‘Hell Swarm, ‘Navigating the Heart’ and TV shows like ‘Wolf Lake’, ‘The King of Queens’, etc. He also essayed the role of the lead character’s father in The National Lampoon movie ‘Van Wilder’.
From 2003-06, to gain experience as a director, he took up episodic directing jobs for various primetime TV shows like ‘The Twilight Zone’, Without a Trace’, ‘The West Wing’, etc. He also narrated for TV documentaries like ‘Nature’ and ‘National Geographic’.
In 2007, he was part of the auto-racing movie ‘Redline’. He also directed an episode of the detective series ‘Psych’ and the drama series ‘Burn Notice’, in which he had the recurring role of ‘Larry Sizemore’.
In 2009, he directed and acted in the movie ‘Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia’ and produced an episode of the TV show ‘Criminal Minds’.
From 2010-11, he continued directing episodes of high-profile TV shows like ‘The Good Guys’, ‘Suits’, etc. He also landed the recurring role of ‘Dr. Brick Breeland’ on the comedy-drama series ‘Hart of Dixie’ in 2011, which continued for four more years.
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In 2016, he gave an award-nominated performance as ‘Ronald Reagan’ in the TV film ‘Killing Reagan’.
In 2017, he was seen as ‘Old Man Vreeke’ in the movie ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’.
In 2018, he was part of the drama film ‘6 Balloons’ that was released on Netflix.
In June 2019, he will be seen portraying the character ‘Henry Kaslan’ in the horror film ‘Child’s Play’.
Family & Personal Life
From 1968-72, Tim Matheson served as a Lance Corporal in the ‘United States Marine Corps Reserve’.
He met his first wife, actress Jennifer Leak, on the set of their film ‘Yours, Mine and Ours’. They got married in 1968, but divorced three years later in 1971.
After a few years, he fell in love with Megan Murphy and the couple tied the knot in 1985. They had a long marriage of 25 years until their divorce in 2010.
He has three children— two daughters, Molly and Emma, and a son, Cooper —all with his second wife, Megan Murphy Matheson.