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Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2008

Actor Richard Widmark dies

Richard Widmark portrays Col. Tad Lawson, right, in a scene with Maximilian Schell in "Judgment at Nuremberg" in this photo from 1962. Widmark died Monday at age 93.

Richard Widmark portrays Col. Tad Lawson, right, in a scene with Maximilian Schell in "Judgment at Nuremberg" in this photo from 1962. Widmark died Monday at age 93.

March 27, 2008

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— Richard Widmark, who made a sensational film debut as the giggling killer in "Kiss of Death" and became a leading man in "Broken Lance," "Two Rode Together" and 40 other films, died at his home in Roxbury after a long illness. He was 93.

Widmark's wife, Susan Blanchard, said he died 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.

Widmark earned an Academy Award nomination for best supporting actor for his role in the 1947 thriller "Kiss of Death." He played Tommy Udo, who delighted in pushing an old lady in a wheelchair down a flight of stairs to her death. It was his only Oscar nomination.

"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."

Widmark appeared in 20 films for 20th Century Fox from 1957 to 1964. 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, Widmark starred in "Don't Bother to Knock" with Marilyn Monroe.

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;" also: "St. Joan" (as the Dauphin), "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 his only TV series.

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