Friday, March 28, 2008

Actor Richard Widmark Dies At 93

Earlier this week, actor Richard Widmark died after a long illness at the age of 93. One of the things that I liked about Richard Widmark was that he didn't mind playing villains. In his film debut (1947's "Kiss of Death"), he played psychopathic thug Tommy Udo, one of the most memorable villains in movie history. The role earned him his only Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Even when he played good guys, his characters usually had an edge that made them stand out. My favorite performance by Widmark is in the 1953 suspense drama "A Pickup On South Street". In it he played Skip McCoy; a pickpocket who gets tangled up with Communists after unwittingly stealing a pocketbook that contains microfilm.

Fans of classic TV may remember Richard Widmark from his guest appearance as himself in a 1955 episode of "I Love Lucy". Titled "The Tour", the plot involved Lucy and Ethel taking a bus tour of star's homes in Beverly Hills. After getting off the bus to pick a grapefruit from Widmark's tree, Lucy winds up in his backyard... then inside his house... and eventually under a bearskin rug in his trophy room!

On Friday April 4th, TCM will pay tribute to Widmark with a block of 3 films starting at 8 pm EST. Unfortunately, TCM doesn't have access to many of the films made by 20th Century Fox (the studio where Widmark was under contract from 1947-1954 and did some of his best work). For details on the 3 film salute and an overview of Richard Widmark's career, click here.

Below is the most famous scene from "Kiss of Death". His retribution against the wheelchair-bound woman still makes me cringe.


X. Dell said...

This was sad. I've always enjoyed his acting, and he made a great villain for a (real life) nice guy.

X. Dell said...

Just learned of Neil Aspinall's death too.

pjazzypar said...

I hate to say it but I thought he was already dead. Another actor from the golden era is gone. I remember him in "Night and the City" and "Don't Bother to Knock" with Marilyn Monroe. 93 is a nice, ripe old age.

Malcolm said...

X. Dell: Richard Widmark reminds me of Robert Ryan in that they both were nice guys in real life who could play reprehensible characters onscreen. I saw the link about Neil's death the other day. I remember seeing him in some Beatle-related documentaries.

Pjazzy: I know what you mean. Because many of these older celebs disappear from the public eye, it can be hard to keep track of whether or not they are still alive.

Back when AMC was American Movie Classics and showed good stuff on a regular basis, I remembered seeing "Don't Bother To Knock". That was a good movie. I'm glad you mentioned "Night and the City". If time permits, I may pop that into the DVD player tonight.

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