Lawrence O'Donnell - Biography

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Lawrence Francis O’Donnell is an American political analyst, a journalist, an actor, a producer, writer and a host of the Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.



Lawrence O’Donnell was born on November 7th, 1951; in Boston, Massachusetts, USA. He attended St. Sebastian’s School in the year 1970 and Harvard University in 1974. In 1983, he published his first book called ‘Deadly Force’ which was later selected as a CBS movie (1986). O’Donnell also featured in the HBO series ‘Big Love’ as Lee Hatcher, played President Josiah Bartlet’s father in ‘Two Cathedrals’ and portrayed himself as Judge Lawrence Barr in the series entitled ‘Monk’. Nonetheless, he wrote more than 16 episodes of ‘The West Wing’.

Early Life and Education

Lawrence O’Donnell is the son of Lawrence Francis O’Donnell Sr. and Frances Marie, an office manager, and an attorney respectively. He got his degree from Harvard University with a major in Economics in 1976. During his times at Harvard, Lawrence wrote for ‘Harvard Lampoon’ and he was pretty popular due to his sarcasm and wittiness among its members.


Speaking of his career, he is an MSNBC host at present. Prior to his involvement in multiple professions, O’Donnell used to be a writer and he even wrote a book called ‘Deadly Force’. The book mainly focuses on an event of wrongful death and police viciousness. Later in 1986, the book turned so popular that it was adapted as a CBS movie, ‘A Case of Deadly Force’ where Lawrence clutched a seat of an associate producer.

The cover page of 'Deadly Force'.

The cover page of 'Deadly Force'.

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From 1989 to 1991; he served to Moynihan as a senior advisor and  during 1992 to 1993; he was a staff director of US Senate Committee on Public Works and Environment. From 1993 to 1995, he turned himself to a staff director of Senate Finance Committee, which concerns with matters relating to revenues and taxation.

Lawrence O’Donnell’s Filmography

From 1999, his television career gets taken off. O’Donnell was associated with a TV drama ‘The West Wing’ where he wrote more than 16 episodes during the first period of the series. As of 1999 and 2000, he became an executive story editor for 12 episodes. In 2000, he turned in to a co-producer for 5 episodes. From 2003 to 2005, he was a consulting producer for more than 40 episodes. And as of 2005 and 2006, he was an executive producer for 22 episodes.


 In 2001, he was an Emmy award winner for ‘Outstanding Drama Series’; and in 2006, he was nominated for the same category. In 2002, he was a supervising writer and producer for the TV drama ‘First Monday’. He was also a creator, an executive producer and a writer for the TV drama ‘Mister Sterling’. As per his acting, O’Donnell played as an attorney for the Henrickson, ‘Lee Hatcher’ in the HBO series called ‘Big Love’.

Being a producer for The West Wing, he once portrayed President Josiah Bartlet’s father in the chapter ‘Two Cathedrals’. Likewise, he featured as Judge Lawrence in two of the episodes of ‘Monk’. And nevertheless, he plays as ‘Lawrence O’Donnell (himself)’ on an episode of Showtime’s Homeland.


Lawrence O’Donnell and MSNBC

As per his MSNBC career, he joined in 2009 and became a fixed contributor in Morning Joe with Joe Scarborough. In 2010, he started hosting a show called ‘The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell’ that aired at 10 P.M sharp. In 2011, it was announced that he would take over Keith’s Olbermann’s slot in ‘Countdown with Keith Olbermann’.

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Lawrence had to go through many controversies at times. In 2004, he got into an intense debate with John O’Neill on Scarborough Country who is a spokesperson for ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth’. The debate was over the claims O’Neill made against John Kerry who is an American Diplomat and a Democratic Party Politician.

Once, O’Donnell drew criticism in an interview with Congressman Ron Paul. The conversation heated up when Paul accused him of breaking an agreement that he would not ask him about other political personalities. Lawrence said that he wasn’t part of any agreements and did what’s best for everyone.

In an interview held in 2011 with Herman Cain, O’Donnell accused him of sitting on the offshoots during the civil rights dispute of the 1960s. He also accused him of evading the draft during the Vietnam War. In the interview, Lawrence goes to the ridiculous extent to use Jingoism and Patriotism as sticks to throw at his conservative guest. Later, the interview was defended by Reverend Al Sharpton.

In 2015, Lawrence O’Donnell alleges Donald Trump of being untruthful about his salary on ‘The Apprentice’. He later regrets having openly asked about the money NBC paid Donald Trump for featuring in ‘The Apprentice’ reality series. The fight continued on Twitter and all the way through the rest of Morning Joe.

Personal Life

O’Donnell married a movie actress Kathryn Harrold in 1994; later with some disputes, they had to file a divorce in 2008. Together, they have a daughter named ‘Elizabeth Buckley Harrold O’Donnell. At present, it is believed that Lawrence has been in an affair to a well-known TV host Tamron Hall. As per his height, O’Donnell stands 5 feet and 10 inches tall.

Lawrence O'Donnell and Tamron Hall.