Sam Waterston and Lynn Waterston
Credit: Getty Images

Sam Waterston has been a staple on Law & Order for decades. But in his personal life, the accomplished film, movie and theater actor is also a loving husband and father. Who is Sam Waterston’s wife? Keep reading to learn about his current spouse and what happened in his previous marriage.

Law & Order is NBC’s crime procedural that follows detectives and prosecutors as they investigate and pursue justice by the New York County District Attorney at the Manhattan DA’s office. Created by Dick Wolf, the show first premiered in 1999 and is the longest-running live-action scripted prime-time show in American TV history. The flagship show has two other spinoffs currently on air: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Law & Order: Organized Crime. Although Law & Order was cancelled in May 2010, it returned a decade later in February 2022 on NBC. The network recently renewed Law & Order for a 23rd season, our sister site Variety reported in April 2023. Law & Order currently stars Sam Waterston, Jeffrey Donovan, Mehcad Brooks, Camryn Manheim, Hugh Dancy and Odelya Halevi.

Sam Waterston made his debut as Executive Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy in the fifth season of Law & Order back in 1994. He starred on the show for 16 Seasons before he returned for Law & Order’s revival in 2022. NBC recently announced that Waterston will continue as McCoy on Law & Order’s upcoming Season 23 which will air in the fall of 2023. In 2022, Waterston became the longest-tenured cast member on Law & Order after 18 seasons, according to Deadline.

In an interview with The New York Times in February 2022 ahead of Law & Order’s return, Waterston spoke about what it was like returning after many years. “It’s nice to come back and just witness the thing we made,” Waterston told The Times. He said that walking through the rebuilt sets, housed in Long Island City, felt like a dream. Dick Wolf also praised Sam’s portrayal of McCoy. “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,” the show’s creator told Deadline. “He is the ultimate conscience of the show and I look forward to him emulating the career of New York District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who served until he was 90.”

In addition to his long tenure on Law & Order, the 82-year-old actor is accomplished in theater, television and film. He’s been awarded a Primetime Emmy Award, Golden Globe Award and Screen Actors Guild Award as well as nominations for an Academy Award, a Tony Award and a BAFTA Award. He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to his mother Alice Tucker, a landscape painter, and his father George Chychele, a semanticist and language teacher. He attended Yale University to study French and History before pursuing a career in acting.

Who is Sam Waterston’s wife?

Sam Waterston and wife Lynn Waterston

Who is Sam Waterston’s wife and how long have they been together? We have the details about his two marriages below.

Lynn Louisa Woodruff

Married: 1976 – Now

After Sam Waterston divorced his first wife, he married his second wife, Lynn Louisa Woodruff, a former fashion model. Woodruff appeared in various vintage editions of Vogue, Vogue Italia, Cosmopolitan and more. Little is known about how the couple first met, but they tied the knot in 1976 and have been married for 56 years.

Sam Waterston and Lynn Waterston

The pair have three children together: daughters Katherine Waterston (age 43) and Elisabeth Waterston (age 46), who are both actresses and one son, Graham Waterston (age 40), who is a film producer and director. Sam and Lynn have frequently attended movie premieres and red carpets together for Sam’s and their children’s projects. For example, they attended the premiere of Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them at the Lincoln Center on November 10, 2016, in New York City. They were there to support their daughter Katherine who played Tina Goldstein, the half-blood witch and the deuteragonist. They were also photographed together at the Netflix Original Series Grace & Frankie Season 2 premiere on May 1, 2016, in Los Angeles, California.

Barbara Rutledge Johns

Married: 1964 – 1975

Sam Waterston married his first wife, Barbara Rutledge Johns, in December 1964, according to the couple’s marriage announcement in The New York Times. Although we’re not sure how exactly the couple met, it was likely when they were both students at Yale (he graduated in ’62, while she was in the ‘60 class). They married at the Branford College Chapel at Yale University, followed by a reception at the bride’s home in Westport, Conn. “Given in marriage by her father, the bride wore an empire gown of white wool lined in satin and a shoulder‐length veil of fishnet. She carried a spray of spider chrysanthemums and podocarpus leaves,” The Times described. At the time of her marriage, Barbara was a fashion reporter in the women’s feature department of The New York Herald Tribune. Sam and Barbara divorced in 1975 after more than a decade of marriage. They had one child together, James Waterston (age 54) , who also followed in his footsteps to become an actor.

Law & Order airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Ever wonder who the stars of your favorite Law & Order series are dating in real life? Wonder no more, because the gallery below will answer that very question!