On a full scholarship at Lake Forest College in Illinois, he played end on the football team, took third place in a state oratory contest, starred in plays and was, once again, senior class president. “Movie audiences fasten on to one aspect of the actor, and then they decide what they want you to be,” Mr. Widmark once said.
If his giggling killer in “Kiss of Death” made a big impression on movie audiences, his performance also had an effect on the actor.
Lodwrick Cook, epitome of L.A.’s bygone era of corporate engagement, dies. In his first stage role, he played an Army lieutenant in F. Hugh Herbert’s “Kiss and Tell,” directed by George Abbott. Among the bands that made their mark on Slash Records were X, the Germs, Los Lobos, the Blasters and the Violent Femmes. Birthday: December 26, 1914Date of Death: March 24, 2008Age at Death: 93. Spencer Davis, ‘Gimme Some Lovin” rock star, dead at 81, With Steve Winwood as lead vocalist, the Spencer Davis Group had two No. ; and Princeton, Ill., where Mr. Widmark graduated from high school as senior class president. “I’d always lived in small towns, and acting meant having some kind of identity.”. But Widmark stole the show as the revengeful Udo, who gleefully ties up an older woman in her wheelchair with a lamp cord and then pushes her down a flight of stairs. In 1991, he made his final screen appearance, as a senator in “True Colors.”. He played a rabid racist in Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s “No Way Out” (1950), an obsessed prosecutor in Stanley Kramer’s “Judgment at Nuremberg” (1961), an authoritarian Navy destroyer captain during the Cold War in James B. Harris’ “The Bedford Incident” (1965) and a tough New York City police detective in Don Siegel’s “Madigan” (1968). His death was announced Wednesday morning by his wife, Susan Blanchard. Henry Fonda, left, James Whitmore and Richard Widmark in “Madigan.”. Within two years after his Fox contract ended, Mr. Widmark had formed a production company and produced “Time Limit” (1957), a serious dissection of possible treason by an American prisoner of war that The New York Times called “sobering, important and exciting.” Directed by the actor Karl Malden, “Time Limit” starred Mr. Widmark as an army colonel who is investigating a major (Richard Basehart) who is suspected of having broken under pressure during the Korean War and aided the enemy. When his contract at Fox expired, he decided to work independently. I was doing ‘Inner Sanctum’ on radio at the same time, and I remember reading the ‘Kiss of Death’ script to some of the guys and saying, ‘Hey, get a load of this!’ and I’d laugh, it was so funny.”. “He can lead a normal life if he wants to.”. “I suppose I wanted to act in order to have a place in the sun,” he told the New Yorker. Richard Widmark, who made an indelible screen debut in 1947 as a giggling sadistic killer and later brought a sense of urban cynicism and unpredictability to his roles as a leading man, has died. He enrolled in a pre-law course at Lake Forest College in Illinois, where he won awards in oratory contests. Your contribution is much appreciated! She said that Mr. Widmark had fractured a vertebra in recent months and that his conditioned had worsened. Richard passed away on March 24, 2008 at the age of 93 in Roxbury, Connecticut, United States. But he also was active in the drama department and, after playing the lead in Elmer Rice’s “Counselor-at-Law” in his sophomore year, began to think seriously about becoming an actor. Older than most new recruits, he was, to his surprise, summoned to Hollywood after the movie was released. Richard Weedt Widmark (December 26, 1914 – March 24, 2008) was an American film, stage, and television actor and producer. “It’s a bit rough priding oneself that one isn’t too bad an actor and then finding one’s only remembered for a giggle,” he told one interviewer. There is even a story that Joey Gallo, the New York mobster, was so taken by Mr. Widmark’s performance in “Kiss of Death” that he copied the actor’s natty posture, sadistic smirk and tittering laugh. But it’s as Tommy Udo, the sadistic New York City gangster in Henry Hathaway’s 1947 film noir classic, “Kiss of Death,” that Widmark made what may be his most enduring on-screen impression. The chilling performance prompted film critic James Agee to write of Widmark’s character: “It is clear that murder is one of the kindest things he is capable of.”.
They married in 1942. The chilling performance prompted film critic James Agee to write of Widmark’s character: “It is clear that murder is one of the kindest things he is capable of.”.
While under contract to Fox, Widmark made about 20 movies between 1947 and 1954. “It’s a bit rough,” Mr. Widmark once said, “priding oneself that one isn’t too bad an actor and then finding one’s only remembered for a giggle.”, Richard Widmark, left, with Victor Mature in the 1947 film "Kiss of Death.". In his later years, Widmark divided his time between a ranch in Hidden Valley, Calif., and a farm in Connecticut. At the beginning of World War II, Mr. Widmark tried to enlist in the army but was turned down three times because of a perforated eardrum. The performance won Mr. Widmark his sole Academy Award nomination, for best supporting actor. “That damn laugh of mine! Richard Widmark as Harry Fabian in “Night and the City.”. Indeed, he became so adept at all types of roles that he consistently lent credibility to inferior movies and became an audience favorite over a career that spanned more than half a century. Richard's cause of death was natural causes. One of his biggest hits came in 1968 when he played the title role in the New York cop story “Madigan.” In 1972, Widmark reprised the role in a TV series of the same name that ran on NBC for a year. ‘Intellectual’ has become a dirty word.”, He also vowed he would never appear on a talk show on television, saying, “When I see people destroying their privacy what they think, what they feel by beaming it out to millions of viewers, I think it cheapens them as individuals.”, In 1970, he won an Emmy nomination for his first television role, as the president of the United States in a mini-series based on Fletcher Knebel’s novel “Vanished.” By the 1980s, television movies had transformed the jittery psychopath of his early days into a wise and stalwart lawman.
He showed his work to John Ford and, two years later, Ford sent Mr. Widmark a finished screenplay. “A lot of actors don’t know what to do with themselves when they retire; they have no other life. And whenever reporters came to call, they inevitably asked about his role in “Kiss of Death.”. He was so embarrassed by the character that after every scene he apologized to the young actor he was required to torment, Sidney Poitier. Widmark enjoyed not working. He married Blanchard, a longtime friend who was once married to Henry Fonda, in 1999. The one time he went fishing, he once recalled, “I caught a little trout. "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.
Mr. Widmark, who hated the limelight, spent his Hollywood years living quietly on a large farm in Connecticut and an 80-acre horse ranch in Hidden Valley, north of Los Angeles. He played a Texas Ranger opposite Willie Nelson’s train robber in “Once Upon a Texas Train,” a small-town police chief in “Blackout” and, most memorably, a bayou country sheriff faced with a group of aged black men who have confessed to a murder in “A Gathering of Old Men.”. The truth is that the only person who can ever really play himself is a baby.”, In reality, the screen’s most vicious psychopath was a mild-mannered former teacher who had married his college sweetheart, the actress Jean Hazelwood, and who told a reporter 48 years later that he had never been unfaithful and had never even flirted with women because, he said, “I happen to like my wife a lot.”. As his blonde hair turned grey, Mr. Widmark moved up in rank, playing generals in the nuclear thriller “Twilight’s Last Gleaming” (1977) and “The Swarm” (1978), in which he waged war on bees. Tommy Udo made the 32-year-old Mr. Widmark, who had been an established radio actor, an instant movie star, and he spent the next seven years playing a variety of flawed heroes and relentlessly anti-social mobsters in 20th Century Fox’s juiciest melodramas. “Getting launched was easy for me too easy, perhaps,” he said of his success playing “young, neurotic guys” on “Big Sister,” “Life Can Be Beautiful,” “Joyce Jordan, M.D.,” “Stella Dallas,” “Front Page Farrell,” “Aunt Jenny’s Real Life Stories” and “Inner Sanctum.”. For two years after that picture, you couldn’t get me to smile.
Get all the day's most vital news with our Today's Headlines newsletter, sent every weekday morning. James Redford, a filmmaker, activist and son of actor Robert Redford, has died of liver cancer at the age of 58. As Tommy Udo, a giggling, psychopathic killer in the 1947 gangster film “Kiss of Death,” Mr. Widmark tied up an old woman in a wheelchair (played by Mildred Dunnock) with a cord ripped from a lamp and shoved her down a flight of stairs to her death. “The older you get, the less you know about acting,” he told one reporter, “but the more you know about what makes the really great actors.” The actor he most admired was Spencer Tracy, because, he said, Tracy’s acting had a reality and honesty that seemed effortless.
"Richard Widmark was born Dec. 26, 1914, in Sunrise, Minn., where his father ran a general store, then became a traveling salesman. James Randi, dazzling magician and leading skeptic, dies at 92.
There was something slightly mysterious about his behavior, and you felt a slight unpredictability about him.”, Widmark, Schickel said, later became a much more conventional leading man, but even then his portrayals conveyed “sort of an awareness that the world didn’t always work out for the best, that you had to be somewhat wary of people.”.
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