Thursday 9 May 2013

Richard Widmark

Richard Weedt Widmark is a Hollywood actor best known for his villainous and anti-hero roles, although he later moved into westerns and dramas. I had never heard of this particular Richard until a grad school friend mentioned him, and now I feel kind of bad. Richard Widmark has been in 75 movies! 75! That's a ton. I can't believe I didn't know about him.

Anyway, Richard's first movie was Kiss of Death (1947) in which he played a giggling creepster named Tommy Udo. Udo's most famous scene comes when he murders a wheelchair-bound woman by pushing her down a flight of stairs. That is some serious shit, especially for a movie in the 1940s.

This is Tommy Udo. He looks creepy.

Richard did a bang-up job in this role. He was nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actor. He didn't win, but he did win the Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer." In fact, Richard was the first person to win this award (the award was discontinued in 1983 after Ben Kingsley won).
Richard spent the 50s, 60s, and 70s acting in a bunch of stuff. He was in some westerns (The Alamo and How the West Was Won) and he played the murder victim in Murder on the Orient Express.
He was evidently pretty darn famous, as he played himself in a 1955 episode of I Love Lucy. In the episode, Lucy sneaked into Richard's house to obtain a souvenir, but was caught by the actor while trying to hide under a rug.

Looking through Richard's filmography, I realized that I have seen him in action in the 1989 made-for-TV movie Cold Sassy Tree. Richard played the main character's grandpa, Enoch Blakeslee. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this. Cold Sassy Tree and I do not get along (for reasons I will not go into here), but I'm pleased that Richard portrayed one of the few characters I could actually tolerate. On a related - and even more shocking note - the main character (who is a teenage boy) was played by none other than Neil Patrick Harris! NPH! I can't even.

Richard seems like he was a cool guy. He was married to his first wife, Jean, for 55 years, until her death in 1997. In 1999, Richard remarried and was with his second wife until his own death in 2008.
Richard also has a miniscule airport named after him. Back in the day, he had a ranch near a small town in Missouri, and he gave a bunch of money for an airport to be built. If you build it, they will name it after you.

Finally, Richard was apparently no fan of guns, despite frequently toting them on the silver screen. According to the great Wikipedia, Richard once said:

"I know I've made kind of a half-assed career out of violence, but I abhor violence. I am an ardent supporter of gun control. It seems incredible to me that the United States are the only civilized nation that does not put some effective control on guns."

For more, see:

No comments:

Post a Comment