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Thread: Richard Widmark Dies

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    Kanai Nemeses's Avatar
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    Richard Widmark Dies

    Another member of old Hollywood has died, sadly.

    Tough-guy actor Richard Widmark dies at 93



    HARTFORD, Connecticut (AP) -- Richard Widmark, who made a sensational film debut as the giggling killer in "Kiss of Death" and became a Hollywood leading man in "Broken Lance," "Two Rode Together" and 40 other films, has died after a long illness. He was 93.


    Richard Widmark was known for performances in films such as "Murder on the Orient Express."

    Widmark's wife, Susan Blanchard, says the actor died at his home in Roxbury on Monday. She would not provide details of his illness and said funeral arrangements are private.

    "It was a big shock, but he was 93," Blanchard said.

    After a career in radio drama and theater, Widmark moved to films as Tommy Udo, who delighted in pushing an old lady in a wheelchair to her death down a flight of stairs in the 1947 thriller "Kiss of Death." The performance won him an Academy Award nomination as supporting actor; it was his only mention for an Oscar.

    "That damned laugh of mine!" he told a reporter in 1961. "For two years after that picture, you couldn't get me to smile. I played the part the way I did because the script struck me as funny and the part I played made me laugh. The guy was such a ridiculous beast."

    A quiet, inordinately shy man, Widmark often portrayed killers, cops and Western gunslingers. But he said he hated guns.

    "I know I've made kind of a half-assed career out of violence, but I abhor violence," he remarked in a 1976 Associated Press interview. "I am an ardent supporter of gun control. It seems incredible to me that we are the only civilized nation that does not put some effective control on guns."

    Two years out of college, Widmark reached New York in 1938 during the heyday of radio. His mellow Midwest voice made him a favorite in soap operas, and he found himself racing from studio to studio.

    Rejected by the Army because of a punctured eardrum, Widmark began appearing in theater productions in 1943. His first was a comedy hit on Broadway, "Kiss and Tell." He was appearing in the Chicago company of "Dream Girl" with June Havoc when 20th Century Fox signed him to a seven-year contract. He almost missed out on the "Kiss of Death" role.

    "The director, Henry Hathaway, didn't want me," the actor recalled. "I have a high forehead; he thought I looked too intellectual." The director was overruled by studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck, and Hathaway "gave me kind of a bad time."

    An immediate star, Widmark appeared in 20 Fox films from 1947 to 1954. Among them: "The Street With No Name," "Road House," "Yellow Sky," "Down to the Sea in Ships," "Slattery's Hurricane," "Panic in the Streets," "No Way Out," "The Halls of Montezuma," "The Frogmen," "Red Skies of Montana," "My Pal Gus" and the Samuel Fuller film noir "Pickup on South Street."

    In 1952, he starred in "Don't Bother to Knock" with Marilyn Monroe. He told an interviewer in later years:

    "She wanted to be this great star but acting just scared the hell out of her. That's why she was always late -- couldn't get her on the set. She had trouble remembering lines. But none of it mattered. With a very few special people, something happens between the lens and the film that is pure magic. ... And she really had it."

    After leaving Fox, Widmark's career continued to flourish. He starred (as Jim Bowie) with John Wayne in "The Alamo," with James Stewart in John Ford's "Two Rode Together," as the U.S. prosecutor in "Judgment at Nuremberg," and with Robert Mitchum and Kirk Douglas in "The Way West." He also played the Dauphin in "St. Joan," and had roles in "How the West Was Won," "Death of a Gunfighter," "Murder on the Orient Express," "Midas Run" and "Coma."

    "Madigan," a 1968 film with Widmark as a loner detective, was converted to television and lasted one season in 1972-73. It was Widmark's only TV series.

    He also was in some TV films, including "Cold Sassy Tree" and "Once Upon a Texas Train."

    Richard Widmark was born December 26, 1914, in Sunrise, Minn., where his father ran a general store, then became a traveling salesman. The family moved around before settling in Princeton, Illinois.

    "Like most small-town boys, I had the urge to get to the big city and make a name for myself," he recalled in a 1954 interview. "I was a movie nut from the age of 3, but I don't recall having any interest in acting," he said.

    But at Lake Forest College, he became a protege of the drama teacher and met his future wife, drama student Ora Jean Hazlewood.

    In later years, Widmark appeared sparingly in films and TV. He explained to Parade magazine in 1987: "I've discovered in my dotage that I now find the whole moviemaking process irritating. I don't have the patience anymore. I've got a few more years to live, and I don't want to spend them sitting around a movie set for 12 hours to do two minutes of film."

    When he wasn't working, he and his wife lived on a horse ranch in Hidden Valley, California, or on a farm in Connecticut. Their daughter Ann became the wife of baseball immortal Sandy Koufax.

    Copyright 2008 The Associated Press.
    Sympathies to his family and loved ones.
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    FORT Fogey Florimel's Avatar
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    Re: Richard Widmark Dies

    He was always one of my favorite actors and I will miss him. Just about a week ago, I rented "Night in the City" again. He gave an outstanding performance. It was a wonderful film noir and the special feature interviews with black-listed director Jules Dassin was a chilling reminder of the horror of the McCarthy era, a reminder much needed in current times.

    If a movie included Richard Widmark in its cast, that was enough for me to want to see it.
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    Kanai Nemeses's Avatar
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    Re: Richard Widmark Dies

    I hadn't realized until that article I posted that he was married to Susan Blanchard up until his death. I remember her from movies, also, and always remembered her name because she was so very pretty.

    I think I just heard a commercial from AMC that they'll be having a Widmark movie marathon this weekend. I'm going to try to catch some of his old movies, if so. I also enjoyed him during the '70's tragedy movies, as well as in Judgement At Nuremburg and Murder On the Orient Express.
    I live in my own world. But it's ok, they know me there.
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    MRD
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    Re: Richard Widmark Dies

    Judgement at Nuremburg is a great movie. I hope that's one of the movies they run this weekend.

    Sounds like he had a great and long life with a wonderful family as well.

    RIP Mr. Widmark
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    Trouble in my life just1paul's Avatar
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    Re: Richard Widmark Dies

    Rest in Peace Mr. Widmark. Thank You.

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    FORT Fogey Florimel's Avatar
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    Re: Richard Widmark Dies

    Nemeses, I love (and own) Murder on the Orient Express -- this version, not the dreadful remake. What an amazing cast Sidney Lumet put together. Each of them, including Richard Widmark, played his/her role to perfection.
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    Kanai Nemeses's Avatar
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    Re: Richard Widmark Dies

    Quote Originally Posted by Florimel;2870861;
    Nemeses, I love (and own) Murder on the Orient Express -- this version, not the dreadful remake. What an amazing cast Sidney Lumet put together. Each of them, including Richard Widmark, played his/her role to perfection.
    I so agree, Florimel. The movie itself was so well done, and the acting superb -- again, as you said, not the remake. It's worth owning just to catch that wonderful cast altogether in one movie: Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Richard Widmark, Michael York, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachael Roberts, Martin Balsam, Albert Finney, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Wendy Hiller, and others. Wow, what a cast. I especially loved Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman in it, along with Richard Widmark.
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    MRD
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    Re: Richard Widmark Dies

    Quote Originally Posted by Nemeses;2871149;
    I so agree, Florimel. The movie itself was so well done, and the acting superb -- again, as you said, not the remake. It's worth owning just to catch that wonderful cast altogether in one movie: Lauren Bacall, Ingrid Bergman, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Anthony Perkins, Richard Widmark, Michael York, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachael Roberts, Martin Balsam, Albert Finney, Jacqueline Bisset, Sean Connery, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Wendy Hiller, and others. Wow, what a cast. I especially loved Lauren Bacall and Ingrid Bergman in it, along with Richard Widmark.
    Me thinks you love Sean Connery too!

    That is a great movie. I had forgotten so many actors were in it until you listed them.
    Hmm, will be alone this weekend, may have to indulge in the Widmark film tribute.
    AMC is one of my favorite channels. That and TMC.
    We watch a lot of stuff on both channels. Great old stuff you can't see anywhere else.
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    Kanai Nemeses's Avatar
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    Re: Richard Widmark Dies

    Quote Originally Posted by myrosiedog;2872194;
    Me thinks you love Sean Connery too!

    That is a great movie. I had forgotten so many actors were in it until you listed them.
    Hmm, will be alone this weekend, may have to indulge in the Widmark film tribute.
    AMC is one of my favorite channels. That and TMC.
    We watch a lot of stuff on both channels. Great old stuff you can't see anywhere else.
    Wow, I hadn't noticed I listed Sean twice.
    Methinks you are right about my Sean Connery crush, mrd!
    Funny thing is, I didn't like him at all when he was younger, such as during his James Bond years, but after his hair turned grey, then white, he really started getting sexy.

    I'm with you, I love watching AMC and the TCM (Turner Classic Movies).
    I live in my own world. But it's ok, they know me there.
    Kid Nation... a sad day for society when the exploitation of children becomes acceptable entertainment for television viewers.
    "Online communities, like the Fort, are very snarky and borderline cynical when it comes to celebrities and their shenanigans." -- Leo, FoRT Writer

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    MRD
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    Re: Richard Widmark Dies

    I hated connery as bond, but like you, found him incredibly sexy as he got older. And that voice! Oh my, does it every time.
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