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‘Law & Order’s’ Sam Waterston & Model Wife’s Love Story Began on a Blind Date More than 46 Years Ago

Bettina Dizon
Jan 21, 2022
12:35 P.M.
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Sam Waterston made his mark on television as Jack McCoy on the hit crime series "Law & Order." Still, he takes the most pride in being a loving husband to his wife, Lynn Louisa Woodruff, who he met on a blind date.


Born on November 15, 1940, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Samuel Atkinson Waterston attended Yale University to study French and History before pursuing a career in acting. His career did not come seamlessly as the actor built his skill at the American Actors Workshop in Paris and Clinton Playhouse in America.

After years in the industry, Waterston is most recognized for his upright figure in NBC's crime-investigative show "Law & Order," bringing Jack McCoy to life. Behind the scenes, Waterston is a doting father and a loving husband. Here's a glimpse into his life and career

Sam Waterston and Lynn Woodruff at an event recently [left], An old picture of Sam Waterston and Lynn Woodruff at an event [right] | Photo: Getty Images



After portraying McCoy's character from 1994 to 2010, Waterston is back to reprise his role full-time. The show's producer, Dick Wolf, is happy to have the actor gracing the screens once again. He said:

"Since day one, Sam has had perfect pitch when it comes to Jack McCoy as a character, who both reflects and expands our ability to understand the law."

As an on-screen district attorney, Waterston's character has been referred to as the "conscience of the show." With his return, Waterston still feels the same vibe from the character and reveals that he was thrilled to be back on the set.


Sam Waterston attends the 'Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them' World Premiere. | Photo: Getty Images

"I was amazed at how great—and strange—it felt to step onto what looked exactly like the old sets, all brand-new, with dear old friends and cool new people," he said.


Waterston also confirmed that "Law & Order" Season 21 has an exciting story that would have fans yearning for it. The showrunner, Rick Eid, also claimed that the present-time problems and situations were incorporated into the show, making it relatable to viewers.

Apart from playing the lawful individual, Waterston also stars in other series, including "Grace & Frankie." He previously confessed that filming is a fantastic experience that opens the cast members to unquantifiable laughter. According to the actor, his wife loves his on-screen personality and influenced him into taking the role.



Before becoming the successful actor he is today, Waterston married Barbara Rutledge John in the Branford College Chapel of Yale University. Not long after, they welcomed a son, James, and divorced eleven years later.

Waterston walked down the aisle again in 1976 and married former model Lynn Louisa Woodruff, whom he met on a blind date in 1972. At that time, Woodruff was at the peak of her career. She was a top model who worked with renowned designers and graced the covers of magazines such as Vogue, Vogue Italia, and Cosmopolitan.

Together, they welcomed three children, Elisabeth, Katherine, and Graham, who followed in Waterston in the entertainment industry. Waterston and Woodruff have been together for over 46 years and continue to strengthen their relationship while supporting their grown children.


Sam Waterston and Lynn Woodruff attend a screening of "State Like Sleep" during the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. | Source: Getty Images


While raising his kids, Waterston's fatherhood formula was "oversight over imposition," which made a long-lasting impact on his children. According to his eldest child, Waterston was "very unopinionated." James added:


"He said, 'If you're interested in this, here's some books you should read. But there are a lot of other things to do in the world.'"

Initially, James was not adamant about settling for a career in the entertainment industry, but after working on a production at 26, he realized that his heart was in performing. Being the son of a famous actor did not come easy for James, who felt he had big shoes to fill. However, it presented him with several opportunities to grow.

Sam Waterston at a ceremony in January 2010 to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. | Photo: Getty Images


In 2012, Waterston and his wife sat among the audience while James performed in Huntington's Theater Company opening night's performance of "Private Lives."

Graham, followed in the entertainment industry, he pursued a career behind the scenes as a producer, writer, and director, after majoring in film at the New York University.

James has also performed on television and film, traveling around the world for his career. Apart from acting, he is also a talented pianist and doting father to two children.

Sam Waterston sent to annnounce his appearance in "Much Ado About Nothing" at the American Shakespeare Festival in 1972. | Photo: Wikimedia Commons



Like her older brother, Elisabeth also pursued a career in the entertainment industry as an actress. She previously worked closely with her father in the Delacorte Theater, New York, and appeared side-by-side in "Much Ado About Nothing." According to the play's director, David Esbjornson:

"She's got this beauty. She's got this command of the English language. She was considered before Sam. Then the casting director, Jordan Thaler, suggested, 'What about Sam?' I thought it was a wonderful idea."

Elisabeth, like her father, had her education at Groton and Yale, where she majored in theater. She has also appeared in the movies and series "The Prince and Me," "Good Dick," "Quantico," and "The Education of Max Bickford."


Sam Waterston at the PaleyFest 2013 panel on the TV show "The Newsroom." | Photo: Wikimedia Commons


Elisabeth's younger sister, Katherine, is also immense in show business. Her credits include performing in Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts and in one of NBC's intriguing shows titled "Deadlines." Although she has the characteristics that would make a star, she claimed to enjoy privacy. Katherine said:


"I've always enjoyed disappearing into a crowd in New York. As an actor, I love to spy, and it's hard to be a good spy if everyone is looking at you. Also, I'm pretty shy. I don't really like a lot of attention."

Like her brother James, Katherine felt the difference of growing up as the daughter of a star. "It's a strange thing when you're the child of a successful actor because you don't see all the years of training and blood, sweat and tears, and humiliating auditions," she said

Katherine Waterston, Sam Waterston and Lynn Louisa Woodruff Waterston at The Hollywood Walk of Fame Star ceremony on January 7, 2010 in Hollywood, California. | Photo: Getty Images



Although Waterston's youngest child, Graham, followed in the entertainment industry, he pursued a career behind the scenes as a producer, writer, and director, after majoring in film at the New York University.

In 2015, he produced and directed "And It Was Good" and was the casting director of "Detective Trousers in the Beat Goes On." He gained experience as a production intern, and later, a production assistant.

With all that his kids have achieved, Warston is a proud father who maintained that he never enforced his craft on his children. Instead, he supported them.