Widmark, Richard

views updated May 23 2018

WIDMARK, Richard

Nationality: American. Born: Sunrise, Minnesota, 26 December 1914. Education: Attended Princeton High School, Illinois, graduated 1932; Lake Forest College, Illinois, B.A., 1936. Family: Married 1) Jean Hazlewood, 1942 (died 1977), daughter: Ann; 2) Susan Blanchard, 1999. Career: 1936–38—drama instructor, Lake Forest College; 1938—began period of radio acting; entertained servicemen under the auspices of the American Theatre Wing during World War II; 1943—Broadway debut in Kiss and Tell, followed by other Broadway plays; 1947—film debut in Kiss of Death; contract with 20th Century-Fox; formed production company Heath Productions: produced the film Time Limit, 1957; 1972–73—starred in TV series Madigan; and in the mini-series Mr. Horn, 1979. Agent: ICM, 8899 Beverly Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90048, U.S.A.

Films as Actor:


Kiss of Death (Hathaway) (as Tommy Udo)


Road House (Negulesco) (as Jefty Robbins); The Street with No Name (Keighley) (as Alec Stiles)


Yellow Sky (Wellman) (as Dude); Down to the Sea in Ships (Hathaway) (as Dan Lanceford); Slattery's Hurricane (De Toth) (title role)


Night and the City (Dassin) (as Harry Fabian); Panic in the Streets (Kazan) (as Clinton Reed); No Way Out (Mankiewicz) (as Ray Biddle)


The Halls of Montezuma (Milestone) (as Lt. Anderson); The Frogmen (Bacon) (as Lt. Commander John Lawrence)


"The Clarion Calls" ep. of O. Henry's Full House (Hathaway) (as Johnny Kernan); Don't Bother to Knock (Baker) (as Jed Towers); Red Skies of Montana (Newman) (as Cliff Mason); My Pal Gus (Parrish) (as Dave Jennings)


Take the High Ground (Brooks) (as Sgt. Thomas Ryan); Destination Gobi (Wise) (as CPO Sam McHale); Pickup on South Street (Fuller) (as Skip McCoy)


Hell or High Water (Fuller) (as Adam Jones); Garden of Evil (Hathaway) (as Fiske); Broken Lance (Dmytryk) (as Ben Devereaux)


The Cobweb (Minnelli) (as Dr. McInver); A Prize of Gold (Robson) (as Joe Lawrence)


Backlash (Sturges) (as Jil Slater); The Last Wagon (Daves) (as Todd); Run for the Sun (Boulting) (as Mike Latimer)


Saint Joan (Preminger) (as Dauphin)


The Law and Jake Wade (Sturges) (as Clint Hollister); The Tunnel of Love (Kelly) (as Angie Poole)


The Trap (The Baited Trap) (Panama) (as Ralph Anderson); Warlock (Dmytryk) (as Gannon)


The Alamo (Wayne) (as Jim Bowie)


Two Rode Together (Ford) (as Lt. Jim Gary); Judgment at Nuremberg (Kramer) (as Colonel Tad Lawson)


How the West Was Won (Ford and others) (as Mike King)


Cheyenne Autumn (Ford) (as Captain Thomas Archer); Flight from Ashiya (Anderson) (as Colonel Glenn Stevenson); The Long Ships (Cardiff) (as Rolfe)


The Bedford Incident (Harris) (as Captain Eric Finlander)


Alvarez Kelly (Dmytryk) (as Colonel Tom Rossiter)


The Way West (McLagen) (as Lije Evans)


Madigan (Siegel) (title role); A Talent for Loving (Quine)


Death of a Gunfighter (Siegel and Totten) (as Marshal Frank Patch)


The Moonshine War (Quine) (as Dr. Taulbee)


Vanished (Kulik—for TV) (as President Roudebush)


When the Legends Die (Miller) (as Red Dillon)


Madigan: Park Avenue Beat (March—for TV) (title role); Brock's Last Case (Rich—for TV) (as Madigan); Madigan: The Lisbon Beat (Sagal—for TV) (title role); Madigan: The Naples Beat (Sagal—for TV) (title role)


Murder on the Orient Express (Lumet) (as Ratchett)


The Last Day (McEveety—for TV)


To the Devil a Daughter (Sykes) (as John Verney); The Sell Out (Collinson) (as Sam Lucas)


The Domino Principle (Kramer) (as Tagge); Rollercoaster (Goldstone) (as Hoyt); Twilight's Last Gleaming (Aldrich) (as Martin MacKenzie)


Coma (Crichton) (as Dr. Harris); The Swarm (Irwin Allen) (as General Slater); Dinero Maldito (Il braccio violento della mala) (Pacheco)


Bear Island (Sharp) (as Otto Gerran); Mr. Horn (Starrett—for TV)


All God's Children (Thorpe—for TV)


A Whale for the Killing (Heffron—for TV)


Hanky Panky (Poitier) (as Ransom); National Lampoon's Movie Madness (Giraldi and Jaglom); The Final Option (Who Dares Wins) (Sharp) (as U.S. Secretary of State)


Against All Odds (Hackford) (as Ben Caxton)


Blackout (Hickox)


The Leopards of Kora (as narrator)


A Gathering of Old Men (Schlöndorff—for TV) (as Mapes)


Once upon a Texas Train (Texas Guns) (Kennedy—for TV) (as Capt. Oren Hayes)


Cold Sassy Tree (Tewkesbury—for TV) (as E. Rucker Blakeslee)


True Colors (Ross) (as Sen. James B. Stiles)


Lincoln (Kunhardt—for TV) (as voice of Ward Hill Lamon)


Wild Bill: Hollywood Maverick (Todd Robinson—doc)


Big Guns Talk: the Story of the Western (Morris—doc for TV) (as himself)

Films as Producer:


Time Limit (Malden) (+ ro as Colonel William Edwards)


The Secret Ways (Karlson) (+ ro as Michael Reynolds)


By WIDMARK: article—

"Creating without Compromise," in Films and Filming (London), October 1961.

Interview with Christian Viviani and Michael Henry, in Positif (Paris), July-August 1995.

On WIDMARK: books—

Hunter, Allen, Richard Widmark: The Man and His Movies, New York, 1985.

Holston, Kim, Richard Widmark: A Bio-Bibliography, Westport, Connecticut, 1990.

On WIDMARK: articles—

Current Biography 1963, New York, 1963.

Marill, A.H., "Films on TV: Richard Widmark," in Films in Review (New York), March 1979.

Buckley, Michael, in Films in Review (New York), April, May, and June/July 1986; see also issue for May 1990.

"Richard Widmark," in Stars (Mariembourg), March 1992.

* * *

Richard Widmark never became a major star, but through the middle part of the twentieth century regularly turned in convincing, workmanlike performances. A genuine product of the American midwest, Widmark strove for a career in show business. He worked at the local Princeton, Illinois, movie house as a high school student so he could see all the films free. At Lake Forest College, outside Chicago, he majored in drama, and after graduation made his way to New York to join a radio drama company. Throughout the late 1930s and the early 1940s Widmark was a fixture on radio, acting in hundreds of programs including Big Sister, Stella Dallas, Front Page Farrell, and March of Time. He also regularly took parts on Broadway, but always made no secret of his desire to go to Hollywood.

His chance came at an age (33) when most movie actors had long built up a list of credits. Even so Widmark was able to make a memorable impression in a small part in his very first film. His portrayal as a giggling psychopath in Henry Hathaway's Kiss of Death earned him his only nomination for an Academy Award. Widmark then signed a standard seven-year contract with Twentieth Century-Fox, and went on to do his best film work during the 1950s and 1960s. He should best be remembered as a sentimental hoodlum in Sam Fuller's Pickup on South Street, and as the tender and understanding hero in John Ford's Two Rode Together and Cheyenne Autumn.

By the 1970s Widmark had turned his considerable talents to television. For a two-part television movie, Vanished, he was nominated for an Emmy, but lost. His lone prime-time series, Madigan, based on his film role, did better, lasting two seasons. He ended his career with frequent appearances in television movies and mini-series.

—Douglas Gomery

Widmark, Richard 1914-2008

views updated May 18 2018

Widmark, Richard 1914-2008


Born December 26, 1914, in Sunrise, MN; died of complications from a fall, March 24, 2008, in Roxbury, CT. Actor and producer. Widmark's portrayal of a psychotic gangster in his screen debut, the 1947 thriller Kiss of Death, made him an instant star. Growing up in Illinois, Widmark attended Lake Forest College with every intention of becoming a lawyer. After winning the lead role in a college production, however, he changed course and stayed with the drama department. After graduating in 1936, Widmark became the assistant director of speech and drama at Lake Forest, quitting in 1938 to move to New York. He was soon cast in a variety of radio roles, including Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories, Stella Dallas, Inner Sanctum, and Life Can Be Beautiful. Widmark made his Broadway debut as an army lieutenant in the 1943 production Kiss and Tell. He continued to act on Broadway until 1947, when Twentieth Century-Fox studio head Darryl F. Zanuck insisted that Widmark be cast as the psychopath in the gangster film Kiss of Death. With a sadistic laugh and a menacing stare, Widmark's portrayal of the killer Tommy Udo scared movie audiences across the country. His performance earned him an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor and a Golden Globe Award for most promising male newcomer. He was soon typecast, playing psychotics in The Street with No Name and Road House, and acting as the villain opposite Gregory Peck in the Western Yellow Sky. Director Elia Kazan cast Widmark to star with Jack Palance in the bubonic plague thriller Panic in the Streets. In a role reversal, Marilyn Monroe played the psychopath to Widmark's hapless airline pilot in the 1952 production Don't Bother to Knock. When his contract with Twentieth Century-Fox was not renewed, Widmark went independent, forming his own production company, Heath Productions. With a strong screen presence, Widmark took on more varied roles, including the Dauphin in the Joan of Arc film Saint Joan, Jim Bowie in John Wayne's The Alamo, an American army colonel in Judgment in Nuremburg, and the sympathetic cavalry Captain Thomas in John Ford's Western Cheyenne Autumn. In 1968 Widmark was cast as the amoral Detective Sergeant Daniel Madigan in Madigan. Widmark's character was so popular that he went on to star in the television series of the same name during the 1972-73 season. He continued to work in both movies and television, accepting more television roles as he grew older and winning an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of the president of the United States in the television movie Vanished. Widmark's last role was in the 1991 political drama True Colors, after which he retired from acting.


New York Times, March 26, 2008.