John Shea
Birth Date:
April 14, 1949
Birth Place:
North Conway, New Hampshire, USA
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Baby M


Actor John Shea is probably most popular to television viewers for his role of villain Lex Luthor on the live action series “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (ABC, 1993-1997) and for his role of Adam Kane on the hit series “Mutant X” (Syndicated, 2001-2004), from which he earned a Gemini nomination. He also starred in the short lived series “WIOU” (CBS, 1990-1991) and played the recurring role of Harold Waldorf in “Gossip Girl” (5 episodes, 2007-2009). In addition, he has guest starred in various shows, including “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “That's Life” and “Sex and the City” and has starred in many TV films, including “The Nativity” (1978, as Joseph) and the 1988 TV docudrama “Baby M,” from which he won an Emmy Award for his supporting role of Bill Stern. On the wide screen, Shea picked up a Montréal World Film Festival Award for his starring turn as Danny in Armyan Bernstein's “Windy City” (1984) and a Seattle International Film Festival Award and a Montréal World Film Festival nomination for his directing effort in “Southie” (1998). His other film acting credits include “Missing” (1982), “Honey I Blew Up the Kid” (1992), “Getting Personal” (1998), “Heartbreak Hospital” (2002), “The Insurgents” (2006), “Framed” (2008), “Achchamundu! Achchamundu!” (2009), “An Invisible Sign” (2011) and “51” (2011). Shea's notable stage credits include “Yentl,” “Long Day's Journey Into Night” and “The Dining Room.”

Shea is a current Artistic Director of the Theatre Workshop of Nantucket. He is also a founding member of the Nantucket Film Festival and a former teacher at Pratt Institute. He was once an assistant director at Chelsea Westside Theater.

Shea has been married twice and has three children. During his free time, he enjoys spending time with his family. He currently resides in New York City.


Childhood and Family:

John Victor Shea was born on April 14, 1949, in North Conway, New Hampshire, to John Victor Shea Jr., a teacher, coach and later an assistant superintendent of schools, and Elizabeth Mary Shea. He was raised in Springfield, Massachusetts, with his three siblings. He graduated from Cathedral High School, where he was the captain of the varsity debate team and played varsity football and track, and received a debate and football scholarship to Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. It was there that he got his early theater training under Bill Beard and Lavinia Schaffer. He also participated in the college's debate and football teams and served as coeditor for “Puffed Wheat,” the school's literary magazine. He graduated with a BFA in drama in 1970. John went on to earn an MFA in directing from the Yale School of Drama in 1973. While at Yale, he also performed with the Yale Repertory Theatre.

On June 19, 1971, John married photographer Laura Pettibone. The couple, however, divorced in 2000. The marriage produced a son named Jake Pettibone Shea (born in 1987). He then married Melissa MacLeod in August 2001. He and his artist wife have two children, Miranda (born in 2000) and Caiden (born in 2004).

Mutant X


After graduating from the Yale School of Drama, John Shea apprenticed as a director at the Chelsea Theatre (under Robert Kalfin) and the Public Theatre (with Joseph Papp) before making his New York stage debut in “Yentl,” opposite Tovah Feldshuh, in 1975. Directed by Kalfin, the play opened on Broadway at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre on October 23, 1975, and was closed after 223 performances. For his good acting, Shea was handed a Theatre World Award. In 1977, he gained further notice for his performance in Eugene O''Neill's play “Long Day's Journey Into Night,” which performed at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Illinois, with Frances Hyland. He was nominated for a 1977 Joseph Jefferson Award in the category of Best Actor in a Principal Role in a Play for his performance.

Shea has since continued to work off-Broadway and in Broadway productions and has appeared in such productions as “End of the World,” “How I Learned to Drive,” “Down the Garden Paths,” “The Dining Room,” “The Sorrows of Stephen,” “The Master and Margarita,” “American Days” (received a Best Actor nomination from the Drama Desk Awards), “The Director” (2000), “The Secret of Madame Bonnard's Bath” ( 2007) and David Harrower's play “Blackbird”(2010). He has also performed at the Carnegie Hall (“L'Histoire du Soldat”) and the London West End (“The Normal Heart”).

Shea began acting on the small screen in 1977 with guest spots in “Eight Is Enough,” “Barnaby Jones” and “Man from Atlantis.” His TV movie debut came with “The Rock Rainbow” (1978), an ABC drama starring Ellen Greene, Louisa Flaningam and Susan Bigelow. Later that same year, he offered a memorable portrayal of Joseph in the ABC holiday movie “The Nativity,” opposite Madeleine Stowe as Mary. He then costarred with Edward Albert, Bruce Boxleitner and Tracy Brooks Swope in the Emmy Award nominated miniseries “The Last Convertible” (1979). It was also in 1979 that Shea landed film work in “It's My Turn,” but his part ended up on the cutting room floor. In his first released feature, “Hussy” (1980), a British drama directed and written by Matthew Chapman, he costarred with Helen Mirren and Paul Angelis.

After working with Bette Davis in the NBC dramatic film “Family Reunion” (1981), Shea starred as Charles in the Costa-Gavras acclaimed film “Missing” (1982), opposite Jack Lemmon, Sissy Spacek and Melanie Mayron. He was then cast as Robert F. Kennedy in the NBC miniseries “Kennedy” (1983), teamed up with Frances Sternhagen and William H. Macy in the TV film adaptation of “The Dining Room” (1984) and played the lead role of Danny in Armyan Bernstein's “Windy City” (1984), for which he won a Best Actor Award at the 1984 Montréal World Film Festival. He went on to play roles in such films as “Hitler's S.S.: Portrait in Evil” (1985, TV), the Canadian/French production “Lune de miel” (“Honeymoon,” 1985), “Angel River” (1986), a film directed by Sergio Olhovich, “A Case of Deadly Force” (1986, TV), “Ha-Holmim” (1987) and “The Impossible Spy” (1987, TV). He also appeared in a few TV series, including “Screen Two” and “The Hitchhiker” (both 1987).

Shea next gained success when he was cast as Bill Stern on the ABC docudrama “Baby M” (ABC, 1988), starring JoBeth Williams as Marybeth Whitehead. Directed and scripted by James Steven Sadwith, the film was nominated for many Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Special, and won an Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special (for Shea). Still in 1988, Shea also portrayed Doc in Alan Alda's comedy “A New Life” and costarred with Mark Harmon, Jodie Foster and Blair Brown in the film “Stealing Home.” He closed out the decade with performances in the television movies “Magic Moment,” “Do You Know the Muffin Man” and “Small Sacrifices” (all 1989).

Shea made his television series debut as a regular in the short lived drama “WIOU,” where he starred as news director Hank Zaret. The show ran on CBS from October 24 1990, until March 20, 1991. He then played Devlin in the Lifetime film “Notorious” (1992), a remake of the Alfred Hitchcock 1964 thriller of the same name. He next worked with Emilio Estevez, Mick Jagger, Rene Russo and Anthony Hopkins in Geoff Murphy's “Freejack” (1992), portrayed Dr. Charles Hendrickson in Randal Kleiser's “Honey I Blew Up the Kid” (1992) and starred with Mimi Rogers and Tom Irwin in the TV thriller “Ladykiller” (1992). Shea returned to series television as a regular in the first season of the ABC series “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” during 1993 to 1994. As character Lex Luthor, he went on to play the role in four more episodes in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

Shea next costarred with Linda Kozlowski, Paul Sorvino and Hector Elizondo in Chris McIntyre's film “Backstreet Justice” (1994), Kate Jackson and Terry O'Quinn in the NBC film “Justice in a Small Town” (1994), and Joanna Kerns and Katy Boyer in the Emmy Award nominated film “See Jane Run” (1995). He also worked with William Devane and Bess Armstrong in the ABC film “Forgotten Sins” (1996), Nick Bakay, Rita Rudner and Jack Lemmon in the television comedy “A Weekend in the Country” (1996) and Patrick Bergin and Virginia Madsen in two part TV film “The Apocalypse Watch” (1997).

In 1998, Shea made his film directing debut with “Southie,” which he also co-wrote with Jimmy Cummings and Dave McLaughlin. Starring Donnie Wahlberg, Rose McGowan and Will Arnett, the drama premiered at the Seattle International Film Festival on June 10, 1998, before being released theatrically on May 28, 1999. It brought Shea an American Independent Award at the 1998 Seattle International Film Festival, which he shared with producers Bill McCutchen and Hugh Wilson, and a Grand Prix des Amériques nomination at the 1998 Montréal World Film Festival. He also appeared in the film as

Peter Binda. Still in 1998, Shea costarred in the dramatic film “Nowhere to Go” (opposite Tricia Vessey and Marianne Jean-Baptiste), the Ron Burrus helmed romance film “Getting Personal,” Tod Williams' “The Adventures of Sebastian Cole,” and the NBC miniseries “A Will of Their Own” (as Jonathan Abbott). The next year, he guest starred in an episode of “Sex and the City” and played the role of Deet Offerman in the film “Catalina Trust.”

After guest starring as Ashley Wilkinson in an episode of “That's Life” called “Miracle at the Cucina” (2001), Shea portrayed the role of Adam Kane on the syndicated television series “Mutant X,” which premiered on October 6, 2001. For his performance, he received a 2002 Gemini nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Dramatic Role. Created by Avi Arad, “Mutant X” enjoyed high ratings before being abruptly canceled in 2004. Meanwhile, the actor also worked in the features “The Empath” and “Heartbreak Hospital” (both 2002) and guest starred in an episode of “Law & Order” (2003).

After the demise of “Mutant X,” Shea appeared in episodes of “Medium” (2005), “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (2005 and 2008), “Law & Order” (2008) and “Eleventh Hour” (2009). He also acted in the short films “Godless” (2005), “Pitch” (2006) and “A Broken Sole” (2006) and the feature films “The Insurgents” (2006, with Mary Stuart Masterson and Henry Simmons), “Framed” (2008, as David Murray) and “Achchamundu! Achchamundu!” (2009, with Andrea Harrison and Sneha). From 2007 to 2009, he played the recurring role of Harold Waldorf in “Gossip Girl” (5 episodes).

Shea next appeared in director Marilyn Agrelo's dramatic film “An Invisible Sign,” which debuted at the 2010 Hamptons International Film Festival. Starring Jessica Alba, Bailee Madison and J.K. Simmons, the film will be released in the U.S. on May 6, 2011. He also starred in the 2010 film “Julius Caesar,” directed by Patrick J. Donnelly, and played the role of Sam Whitaker in Jason Connery's “51” (2011), opposite Bruce Boxleitner, Jason London and Rachel Miner.

Shea is set to play roles in the upcoming films “The Trouble with the Truth” (2011, directed and written by Jim Hemphill), “Low Grounds: The Portal” (2011, written and directed by Simon Veredon) and “The Italian Key” (directed and written by Rosa Karo).


  • Emmy: Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Special, “Baby M,” 1988

  • Montréal World Film Festival: Best Actor, “Windy City,” 1984

  • Seattle International Film Festival: American Independent Award, “Southie,” 1998

  • Theatre World Award: for his performance in "Yentl," 1976

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