John Lithgow caught the acting bug at Boy Scout summer camp

If not for Camp Birch near Springfield, Ohio, John Lithgow might not be the award-winning actor he is today.

Lithgow is a star of the big screen (The World According to GarpTerms of Endearment); small screen (3rd Rock from the Sun, Dexter); and stage (The Changing RoomSweet Smell of Success).

But before all those Golden Globes, Emmys and Tonys, Lithgow was an actor at Boy Scout summer camp.

At Camp Birch — 11 miles south of Springfield, Ohio — Lithgow, then just 12, took the stage. The skit was an old-time melodrama with “the standard plot: hero, villain, damsel tied to the railroad tracks, last-minute rescue,” Lithgow told NPR’s Scott Simon in 2010.

Lithgow played the damsel in distress. The scene called for the hero, an “Eagle Scout named Larry Fogg,” to rescue Lithgow by picking him up and carrying him away. At least, that was the plan.

Instead, the hero fell on his rear-end “because I was heavier than he expected,” Lithgow said.

“And all those boys, that whole hillside full of Boy Scouts, they screamed and yelled and laughed,” Lithgow told NPR. “It was like manna from heaven falling on me. I’ve always said that if you hear enough laughter and applause at a young enough age, you’re doomed — you’re going to be an actor.”

And so he was. What started at Scout camp more than 50 years ago has given us one of the country’s most talented actors.

You tell me

Are there any future Hollywood actors in your pack or troop? Tell me about these Scout skit stars in the comments.

About Bryan Wendell 3282 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.