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Richard Widmark

Richard Widmark

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Also Known As: Died: March 24, 2008
Born: December 26, 1914 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Sunrise, Minnesota Profession: actor, producer, drama instructor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A charismatic, compact Broadway actor whose early roles in features were often as tough guys or heavies, Richard Widmark earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and instant stardom for his electrifying 1947 screen debut in the gangster saga "Kiss of Death" as a giggling psychopathic killer, he pushed a crippled old lady down a flight of stairs. He followed up with another villainous role in the fine film noir "Road House" (1948), but successfully worked to avoid typecasting soon thereafter. Widmark later played the disinterested hero of Sam Fuller's striking, ambiguous Cold War thriller, "Pickup on South Street" (1953), and was superb in the title role of Don Siegel's New York cop tale "Madigan" (1968). Blond, maturely handsome and athletic, Widmark displayed an early nervous quality that smoothed down somewhat to a flinty, sturdily heroic appearance evidenced as early as "Down to the Sea in Ships" (1949) and "Panic in the Streets" (1950). It also suited him well for his many westerns, including two of John Ford's later efforts, "Two Rode Together" (1961) and "Cheyenne Autumn" (1964). He also played tough yet articulate leading roles in the well-received films "Judgment at Nuremberg"...

A charismatic, compact Broadway actor whose early roles in features were often as tough guys or heavies, Richard Widmark earned a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and instant stardom for his electrifying 1947 screen debut in the gangster saga "Kiss of Death" as a giggling psychopathic killer, he pushed a crippled old lady down a flight of stairs. He followed up with another villainous role in the fine film noir "Road House" (1948), but successfully worked to avoid typecasting soon thereafter. Widmark later played the disinterested hero of Sam Fuller's striking, ambiguous Cold War thriller, "Pickup on South Street" (1953), and was superb in the title role of Don Siegel's New York cop tale "Madigan" (1968). Blond, maturely handsome and athletic, Widmark displayed an early nervous quality that smoothed down somewhat to a flinty, sturdily heroic appearance evidenced as early as "Down to the Sea in Ships" (1949) and "Panic in the Streets" (1950). It also suited him well for his many westerns, including two of John Ford's later efforts, "Two Rode Together" (1961) and "Cheyenne Autumn" (1964). He also played tough yet articulate leading roles in the well-received films "Judgment at Nuremberg" (1961) and "The Bedford Incident" (1965), and was especially expert at showing the nastiness and neurotic cracks which sometimes surface in authority figures. Beginning with the worthy courtroom drama "Time Limit" (1957), Widmark began producing occasional films under the banner of his own Heath Productions, including the spy thriller "The Secret Ways" (1961), scripted by wife Jean Hazelwood. Widmark's stardom began to ebb in the early 70s, but he still kept busy with prominent screen roles in all-star fare including "Murder on the Orient Express" (1974) and "Rollercoaster" (1977) and with parts in "Coma" (1978) and "Against All Odds" (1984). Widmark also moved more into the realm of TV-movies ("Mr. Horn" 1979, "Blackout" 1985) and miniseries ("The Rebel" 1975). In 1989 he garnered considerable acclaim for his quiet, perceptive work opposite Faye Dunaway in the made-for-TNT saga "Cold Sassy Tree" as a man who marries a much younger woman. Carrying with him the aura of one of the screen's durable elder statesman, Widmark also returned to the big screen to play a senator in "True Colors" (1991).

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
2.
3.
 True Colors (1991) Senator James B Stiles
4.
 Cold Sassy Tree (1989) E Rucker Blakeslee
5.
 Once Upon a Texas Train (1988) Captain Oren Hayes
7.
 Gathering of Old Men, A (1987) Mapes
8.
9.
 Blackout (1985) Joe Steiner
10.
 Against All Odds (1984) Ben Caxton
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1936:
Taught drama at Lake Forest College
1938:
Moved to New York
:
Worked in radio in New York City
1943:
Made Broadway debut in "Kiss and Tell"
:
Achieved success on Broadway in plays including "Get Away, Old Man" (1943), "Kiss Them for Me" (1944), "Dunnigan's Daughter" (1945) and "Dream Girl" (1946-1947)
:
Signed by Twentieth Century-Fox
1947:
Feature debut, "Kiss of Death"; instantly achieve star status; also received Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor
1949:
First films in which he received top billing, "Down to the Sea in Ships" and "Slattery's Hurricane"
1953:
Appeared in "Take the High Ground"; first film not at Twentieth Century-Fox
1955:
Formed production company, Heath Productions
1956:
Last film at Twentieth Century-Fox for several years, "The Last Wagon"
1957:
First film as co-producer (also actor), "Time Limit"; sole directorial effort for Karl Malden
1957:
Served as vice president of Widmark Cattle Enterprises
1965:
Last featuring producing credit, "The Bedford Incident"; also starred
1968:
Portrayed Sergeant Don Madigan opposite Henry Fonda in "Madigan"
1971:
Made TV acting debut in the miniseries, "Vanished"
1972:
Recreated the role of Sergeant Don Madigan for the short-lived NBC television series, "Madigan"
1974:
Cast in Sidney Lumet's "Murder on the Orient Express" based on the 1934 novel by Agatha Christie
1976:
Last received top billing in features in "The Sell Out" and "To the Devil, a Daughter"
1984:
Last feature film for seven years, "Against All Odds"
1991:
Returned to feature films after a seven-year absence to play a Senator in "True Colors"
1995:
Appeared as himself in the documentary, "Wild Bill, Hollywood Maverick: The Life and Times of William A. Wellman"
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Education

Lake Forest College: Lake Forest , Illinois - 1936
Lake Forest College: Lake Forest , Illinois - 1936

Notes

Awarded honorary doctor of fine arts degree by alma mater Lake Forest College in 1973.

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Ora Jean Hazelwood. Actor, screenwriter. Married from April 5, 1942 until her death on March 2, 1997 of complications from Alzheimer's Disease.
wife:
Susan Blanchard. Married in September 1999 in Roxbury, Connecticut; formerly married to Henry Fonda.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Carl H Widmark.
mother:
Ethel Mae Widmark.
daughter:
Anne Heath Widmark. Formerly married to baseball player Sandy Koufax.

Bibliography close complete biography

"Richard Widmark: A Bio-Bibliography" Greenwood Press

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