Lawrence Pressman was born David Milton Pressman in 1939 in Cynthiana, Kentucky. His father Joseph G. Pressman was a Russian Jew who fled Czarist Russia as a teenager and earned US citizenship through service in World War I. His mother Rose Pressman (nee Goldberg), whose family settled in Cynthiana after moving from New York City, was also of Jewish immigrant heritage. Together, his parents worked as successful retailers in Cynthiana, owning seven local department stores and three others in northeast Kentucky. Joseph would regularly take Lawrence and his three brothers to see Broadway plays, which fostered Lawrence’s interest in acting.
Pressman pursued his passion for acting at Northwestern University, earning a Bachelor of Science in Speech from the School of Speech in 1961. While at Northwestern, Pressman studied with associate professor Alvina Krause, whose undergraduate acting curriculum significantly contributed both to the field and to Northwestern’s national reputation for drama instruction. He went on to perform in several productions at her summer acting academy for particularly promising students, the Eagles Mere Playhouse. Prior to beginning his post-graduate acting career, he changed his first name to “Lawrence.” He further studied at the American Shakespeare Festival and the Lincoln Center.
Pressman has held over 150 roles on the screen and stage. With a few exceptions (The Man in the Glass Booth, Mulligan’s Stew), these are typically character and supporting roles rather than starring performances. He is best known for his involvement in Mulligan’s Stew, The Hellstrom Chronicle (recipient of the 1971 Grand Prix of the C.S.T at the Cannes Film Festival), Shaft, Dr. Benjamin Canfield in Doogie Howser, M.D., Ladies’ Man, and a recurring role on Days of Our Lives. He has been involved in several high profile projects, including American Pie, West Wing, and Star Trek.
Throughout his onscreen career, Pressman has remained highly active in the theater. Some of his most notable performances include the highly reviewed Paris Letter, Woody Allen’s Play It Again, Sam, and multiple works written or directed by Harold Pinter, including Man in the Glass Booth. He has regularly worked with established companies, including Antaeus Theatre and Matrix Theatre, of which he is a founding member.
His awards and nominations include Drama-Logue, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, Garland, LA Weekly, GLAAD, and Broadway’s Theatre World Award.