Fact Check

Fact Check: Did Coretta Scott King Babysit John Lithgow during his childhood?

In the tapestry of history, charming stories frequently arise that leave us both confused and entranced. One such story that has circled for years is the inquisitive claim that civil rights icon Coretta Scott King, spouse of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., used to babysit John Lithgow in his childhood. 

In this fact-checking article, we disentangle the strings of this puzzling connection, seeking to confirm or expose the reality of celebrity legend that has provoked curiosity for generations.

The Claim

Coretta Scott King, the prominent Civil rights activist, used to babysit the now-prominent actor John Lithgow during his childhood. 


Verdict Pending. 


Lithgow’s Statement: In an interview in 2017 on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,’ John Lithgow claimed that Coretta Scott babysat him as well as his siblings in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He also met her after growing up, their reconnection happened through a mutual friend, the producer of a play in which John was in. 

Residence in the same town: Their families resided in the pleasant town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, during the early 1950s, when this special connection is said to have bloomed.

Professor and student in the same college: John’s father, Arthur Lithgow, was a professor at Antioch School, where Martin Luther King Jr. was a dedicated student, possibly reinforcing the bond between the two families.

King’s commitment to babysitting: Coretta Scott King, besides her activism and advocacy, was also a trained musician and educator, known to babysit other families in Yellow Springs, making it conceivable that she to be sure played a nurturing role in young John Lithgow’s life.


The claim that Coretta Scott King babysat John Lithgow MIGHT BE TRUE, however, the verdict is still PENDING. 

Though the actor claims that he was babysit by King during his childhood, it will be more appropriate that we should wait for secondary evidence, like any statement from King’s family confirming Lithgow’s claim. 

Well, there were some claims on Twitter after the actor first disclosed the babysitting claim. Also, on his birthday i.e., 19th Oct, 2023, we found a Twitter Post reclaiming his babysitting done by King. 

In his autobiography, published in 2011, John Lithgow unveiled a clear picture of his childhood spent in the charming town of Yellow Springs, Ohio, where destiny had entwined his young life with that of Coretta Scott King’s family.

In a remarkable revelation, Lithgow admitted that Coretta Scott King babysat him during his childhood. He claimed that he met her years later in 1974, when she lovingly reminded him that she babysat him during his childhood.

Their timeline of Yellow Spring overlapped, as it is mentioned by the sources that Lithgow’s family moved to Yellow Springs, Ohio, after 1948 and King moved there in 1945. This also provides a glimpse of the idea that the claim might be true. 


While there is evidence to support the claim that Coretta Scott King babysat Lithgow as a child, there is no confirmed proof.

Lithgow’s claim depends on his memory of childhood, and there could be no other documentation to affirm it. Furthermore, King’s family has never openly affirmed or denied the claim.

Given the absence of concrete proof, we are rating it as ‘Verdict Pending.’


  • Did Coretta Scott King Babysit John Lithgow When He Was a Child? | Snopes.com
  • Rufus Xavier Sarsaparilla (Brandon Robnett) 🇵🇷 on X: "Since today is John Lithgow's birthday, I get to share my favorite fun fact about him again. https://t.co/QhFJtrFcvV" / X (twitter.com)
  • TIL that John Lithgow's childhood babysitter was Coretta Scott King (wife of Martin Luther King Jr. and a hugely accomplished activist in her own right) : r/todayilearned (reddit.com)
  • Coretta Scott King Babysat John Lithgow - YouTube
  • Yellow Springs News Online (ysnews.com)

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