Lemmon was born in an elevator at Newton-Wellesley Hospital in Newton, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston. He was the son of Mildred Burgess LaRue (nee Noel) and John Uhler Lemmon, Jr., who was the president of a doughnut company. Lemmon attended John Ward Elementary School in Newton and The Rivers School in Weston, Massachusetts. He later revealed that he knew he wanted to be an actor from the age of eight. Lemmon attended Phillips Academy (Class of 1943) and Harvard University (Class of 1947) where he lived in Adams House and was an active member of several Drama Clubs - becoming president of the Hasty Pudding Club - as well as a member of the Delphic Club for Gentleman, a final club at Harvard. After Harvard, Lemmon joined the Navy, receiving V-12 training and serving as an ensign. On being discharged, he took up acting professionally, working on radio, television and Broadway. He studied acting under Uta Hagen. He also became enthused with the piano and learned to play it on his own. He could also play the harmonica and the double bass.
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans I miss it each night and day I know I'm not wrong that feeling's getting stronger The longer I stay away
Miss the moist covered vines The tall sugar pines Where mocking birds use to sing And now I like to see the lazy Mississippi Are hurrying to spring
The Mardi Gras memories* Of creol tunes that fill the air* I dream of oleanders in June* And soon I'm wishing that I was there*
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans When that's where you left your heart And there's something more I miss the one I care for More than I miss New Orleans