John Larroquette: His Life Since The Original Night Court Ended

This feature references alcohol addiction.

With his deep commanding voice and his six foot four inches stature, veteran actor, John Larroquette is not easily forgotten. To many, he will always be the bold, boisterous, sarcastic — and don't forget womanizing — District Attorney Dan Fielding in the original "Night Court," which ran for nine seasons from 1984 until 1992. Over 30 years later, Larroquette stepped back into that role as the only returning series regular for the 2023 reboot of "Night Court." This time Fielding reluctantly returned as a prosecutor to serve the late judge Harry Stone's daughter, Abby Stone, played by Melissa Rauch.

During the original series, Larroquette won a primetime Emmy four years in a row from 1985 to 1988 and was also nominated for a Golden Globe at the end of that run. Eventually, the actor even reportedly asked that his name be taken out of the running for an Emmy for "Night Court" to give others a chance. Of course, the talented actor would be nominated for other shows, proving his talent as an actor. With more than 100 on-screen credits on both the small and big screen, Larroquette has mastered his professional life. One might also say he is lucky in love, having married his wife, Elizabeth Larroquette, in 1975, with the couple raising three children together. As of this writing, the pair are still together almost 50 years since they exchanged their nuptials. 

Let's take a look back at what John Larroquette has been up to since the original "Night Court" ended.

He got his own show after Night Court

When the original "Night Court" ended in 1992, fans didn't have to wait long before they got to see John Larroquette on their TV screens again. In September 1993, "The John Larroquette Show" debuted, and this time his character hit a little closer to home — the actor was also in recovery from alcohol addiction, just like his character. Initial reviews were mostly positive, with Ray Loynd writing for Variety, "Credit John Larroquette ... for bringing humor, respectable drama, and even a touch of grace to the dark, edgy corners of this refreshing sitcom." His performance also received a nomination for a lead actor primetime Emmy in 1994. 

The show only lasted four seasons, with the final season only half as long as the others. In 1995, The New York Times reported that it was clear the show was waning, stating, "'Larroquette' has weaker writing than 'Grace [Under Fire]' and 'Roseanne,' and lower ratings to match." The actor likewise knew it would be tough to compete. On an episode of "Charlie Rose," he shared that the network wanted him to change things on his show because of how it was doing compared to "Roseanne." "They've asked me to pull back a little from the alcoholic viewpoint," he said, something he wasn't happy about but did to try to save the show. Sadly, it didn't work.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

His show was accused of using racial stereotypes

Starting a new television series comes with a lot of challenges. Addressing a complex issue within a comedy series heightens those challenges, which is something the creators of "The John Larroquette Show" likely expected when the project centered around a character recovering from alcohol addiction. Viewers were surprised to be introduced to the show with an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Yet, it was an entirely different issue that sparked controversy for "The John Larroquette Show."

In the show's third episode, Gene, an African-American male who works as a janitor, is shown being desperately concerned when he discovers a white spot on his genitals. The character proceeds to show several people to get opinions, including Larroquette's character, whose response indicates he's looking at something sizeable. Critics for the Los Angeles Times slammed the scene for playing into a degrading stereotype regarding African-American men, stating, "[It] set the tone for some of the most racist and demeaning television we have seen for some time." The outlet added that Gene's characterization played into several outdated and harmful racial stereotypes, overall.

As an executive producer on the show, Larroquette was nonetheless proud of the show's diversity. "If you look at the landscape of sitcom television anyway, this is the only diverse, ethnic cast on television," he said during an appearance on "Charlie Rose." "We have a Hispanic woman, we have two Black men, we have an old man, we have a young woman, [and] we have me as a middle-aged, white, sagging American." 

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

He was repeatedly cast as a lawyer

It makes sense that an actor who wins an Emmy four years in a row must be convincing in his role. That could be one of the reasons John Larroquette was so often cast as a lawyer. As the actor told Entertainment Weekly in 2007, by that point he'd played a lawyer around 15 to 20 times. That included a six-episode guest spot on "The Practice," a series of TV movies around the character Mike McBride, and the new series he'd just joined, "Boston Legal." And there would be more to come. In 2009, he played pro-immigration lawyer, Randall Carver on "Law & Order: SVU."

In 2018, Larroquette had a bit of a graduation and appeared as a judge on "Murphy Brown" and by the following year he was playing the president in the reboot of "The Twilight Zone." Of course, the actor couldn't seem to elude that lawyer vibe as he found himself right back in front of the judge in the 2023 reboot of "Night Court."

So, what is it about the man and his career that had him type-casted in that role? As Laroquette told the AV Club in 2008, people simply couldn't move beyond his performance as Dan Fielding. "Because he was such a bizarre character, he had made such an impression, that typecasting does happen," he said. "Every role was some sleazy lawyer or some sleazy this or some sleazy that."

John Larroquette's tragic House appearance

In 2006, John Larroquette appeared in Season 3, Episode 7 of the Emmy-winning show, "House." His character, Gabriel, was a man who was in a coma for ten years. Dr. House wanted to wake him in the hopes of saving the man's dying son who was in the same hospital. Upon his revival, Gabriel says, "God, I'm starving." When he finds out his alert state is temporary and that he will soon slip back into a coma, he's more interested in getting out of the hospital than saving his son. Strangely, Dr. House decides to accompany the man to Atlantic City so he can get his medical history on the way.

Larroquette was perfect as the matter-of-fact, somewhat sarcastic character who gave House a run for his money in the psychological warfare department, literally telling House he was going to annoy him. Entertainment Weekly said of his performance, "Larroquette was ... right on the ball as a befuddled dad with a dark sense of humor who struggled with potentially failing to save his family again."

Tragically, his options for saving his son are limited — cue a disturbing scene where Gabriel and House discuss the most advantageous methods of assisted suicide that will protect the organs that his kid needs. However, one of the coolest things about this episode, was that viewers got to hear why Dr. House became a doctor as he shares the story with Larroquette's character.

He starred on Boston Legal for two seasons

Despite having to play yet another lawyer, in 2007, John Larroquette was more than happy to join the cast of "Boston Legal" for the show's last two seasons as new senior partner, Carl Slack. Larroquette had already worked with David E. Kelley when he had four episodes on "The Practice." As the actor shared with the AV Club, he didn't need time to think it over when he received a call from the king of lawyer-centric TV shows about joining the cast. "I said immediately, 'Would you like me to come today?'" he shared.

He was not just familiar with the show but a fan. Initially drawn to "Boston Legal" because of James Spader's work, Larroquette added, "I also loved Candice Bergen and Bill Shatner." But, the main reason he wanted to be a part of the show was Kelley's writing, which has earned the former attorney both Emmy nominations and wins.

During his run on the show, Carl was a love interest to Candace Bergen's character, Shirley, and in the two-hour finale, the couple get married, as do Alan and Denny (who marry for reasons other than romantic love). But the coolest storyline might be two episodes prior when Carl defends Betty White's character in a case against ageism in the networks. In a winking line, Carl says, "The only show unafraid to have its stars over fifty is Bo —" At this point, Carl looks into the camera and says, "Gee, I can't say it. Would, uh, break the wall."

John Larroquette won a Tony award

In 2011, John Larroquette stepped out of his comfort zone and onto the Broadway stage to star as J B. Biggley alongside "Harry Potter" star, Daniel Radcliff in a musical revival of Frank Loesser's "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying." Having never done a part with dancing before, and having learned that Radcliff took lessons for a year, the pressure was on for Larroquette. Sitting next to his co-star, he shared on "The View," "I knew the comedy would come. I knew the character would come, so I just sort of ignored that for a while and really tried to diligently at least get the steps down so I wouldn't kill him."

Of his performance, The Hollywood Reporter said, "In his Broadway debut, TV veteran John Larroquette is no great singer. But he nails his laughs with sharp timing and eccentric line readings." Whether or not that was true, Larroquette earned himself a Tony. As captured by Gold Derby, while speaking to reporters backstage, he said, "For this community to not only welcome me the first time ever being on Broadway but to embrace me enough to offer me this sort of honor is a spectacular feeling."

Although Larroquette came to the theater later in his career, he really took to it. In a Q&A session with Broadway Buzz, he said, "It's a drug that I hope to get addicted to." He went on to appear in "Gore Vidal's The Best Man," "1776," and "Nantucket Sleigh Ride."

He was a series regular on two shows simultaneously

In 2014, John Larroquette snagged a spot as a series regular in a new fantasy adventure series called "The Librarians." Starring alongside Rebecca Romijn and Noah Wyle, Larroquette played Jenkins, manager of the Library's Annex. When asked by Behind the Velvet Rope about the departure from his typical roles, he said, "Acting is acting. It doesn't matter if it's comedy or drama or fantasy. It's about character and relationships and situations." Meanwhile, creator John Rogers told Collider that hiring Larroquette elevated Jenkis' potential. "I knew that I could just write the snarkiest, driest jokes I've written in my life, and he'll hit it," he said. 

While working on "The Librarians," Larroquette was tapped for another series in 2017. He was one of three actors playing the same character at different stages in his life in the comedy series, "Me, Myself and I." Early critics of the show pointed out the obvious height difference between Larroquette (who is 6'4”) and co-star, Bobby Moynihan, who is 5'8”. Executive producer Dan Kopelman pointed to the fact that the two actors were never on screen together and that they tried to surround Larroquette with taller people. More importantly, he told the Television Critics Association summer press tour (via TV Line), "Honestly, it was about getting the best actor possible for the role, and we trust the audience will go along for the ride." Unfortunately, the show only survived one season, ending in 2018 along with "The Librarians."

John Larroquette returned to the theater

With both of his series ending around the same time, John Larroquette was back on the market. In his early 70s at the time, the actor didn't think of retirement. Instead, he opted for hard work and fun, taking on the lead role of Edmund Gowery in John Guare's offbeat off-Broadway play, "Nantucket Sleigh Ride." 

Depicting a central character who appears in almost every scene was demanding, to say the least. Speaking with MetroFocus about the rigors of leading the play, he quipped, "I was an idiot." He then shared that he had talked it over with his wife and realized that he simply couldn't turn down the opportunity, even if it was challenging. It had been several years since the actor had been on stage, and if for nothing else, the closeness an actor can share with an audience could sometimes be daunting. As he put it, "I can tell within thirty seconds of the lights going up if the audience is leaning forward, ready for the story, or if they're leaning back, saying 'show me.'" And show them he did.

The New York Times said of his performance, "Mr. Larroquette has the right combination of swagger and self-doubt but spends most of the play nursing the harried [effect] of someone running for a bus that keeps shutting its doors every time he catches up." Meanwhile, Variety touted, "Larroquette has perfected a droll, deadpan delivery that suits Guare's under-the-radar brand of humor."

He received a ... 'high' payment for Texas Chainsaw

John Larroquette's introduction into the acting world was somewhat legendary. In 1974, the burgeoning actor provided the opening narration to the classic horror film, "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre." Of the nine films in the movie franchise, Larroquette lent his voice to four of them, including 2022's "Texas Chain Saw Massacre" on Netflix. Director David Blue Garcia shared with Variety why they wanted Larroquette to return for the opening narration for the film. "It felt important to honor the original 'TCM' at every opportunity," he noted. "John's voice is iconic in the original opening."

In the January 2023 cover story of Parade, the actor shared how he met the director, Tobe Hooper, of the original film in 1969, while Larroquette was working as a bartender in Colorado. When he moved to Los Angeles four years later, the two reconnected. Apparently, Hooper asked his friend to do the job as a favor and that it only took an hour of his time. As rumors have long suggested, Larroquette did indeed receive an unusual payment for his work. "[Hooper] gave me some marijuana or a matchbox or whatever you called it in those days," he said. "I walked out of the studio and patted him on his backside and said, 'Good luck to you!'"

While Larroquette says he doesn't like horror and hasn't seen any of the films, he did get paid — in actual money, this time — for the jobs he did for the subsequent movies in the franchise.

He reluctantly joined the Night Court reboot

Dan Fielding was one of the most iconic lawyer characters in television history. John Larroquette played the larger-than-life, womanizing man on "Night Court" between 1984 and 1992, appearing in every episode of the nine seasons. So, it makes sense that a reboot of "Night Court" in 2023 could only be made better with the original star on board. 

But more than 30 years after the final episode, was Larroquette interested in reviving his award-winning character? Admittedly, he wasn't so sure. On an episode of "Late Night with Seth Meyers," he revealed that it took a lot of convincing from Melissa Rauch, who plays the new judge, Abby Stone. Clearly, life had imitated art. In the reboot of "Night Court," Larroquette's character likewise had to be persuaded by Abby to rejoin the courtroom, by pulling on his heartstrings regarding her father and his friend, Harry Stone, who had died. The actor behind the character, Harry Anderson, died in 2018.

Larroquette realized he couldn't pass up this rare opportunity, telling Seth Meyers, "How often does one get a chance to look at a character that you played thirty years ago and see him now thirty years into the future and what's happened to him?" In the "Night Court" reboot, Fielding has certainly transformed — jumping from the prosecution side by becoming a public defender. Another interesting tidbit Larroquette shared with Meyers is that his son, Benjamin Larroquette, composed a tweaked version of the original theme song for the reboot.

John Larroquette is preparing for retirement

The prolific John Larroquette has almost five decades of screen time under his belt. With a spotlight shining on him thanks to the reboot of "Night Court" a whole new generation can discover his talent and learn more about him. Personally, Larroquette has had just as much success in life. He met his wife, Elizabeth, in 1974 while working on a production of "Enter Laughing" and they married a year later. The couple welcomed two sons, Jonathan and Benjamin, as well as a daughter Lisa from Elizabeth's previous marriage. In 2011 when asked by Broadway Buzz what the secret to a happy marriage was, John replied, "I don't know. She has an enormous amount of patience."

Despite so much success, even in his senior years, the actor is still thinking ahead to retirement. As he shared with The New York Times, he consulted both his wife and financial advisors, who told him that if he cut back on topping up his rare book collection then his pension pot would be good. Currently, he and Elizabeth live on a rural property just outside of Portland, Oregon. He told Parade, "It's really beautiful. And at my age, it's time to slow down and be out somewhere."

If you're looking to follow the actor on social media, you won't find much. He has a Twitter account but he rarely posts on it. As he shared backstage at the Tony Awards, "Unlike most people, I don't take pictures of my life every second."