A & E Biography of Richard Widmark, VHS version
Five out of five stars
Like so many other movie stars, Richard Widmark was from a small town and his family struggled when he was growing up. In the video there is the note that his first hometown was so small that it did not appear on any map. His father was a traveling salesman and a bit of a con man, so the family moved a great deal. He entered college with the intention of studying law, but he soon discovered that he had a natural talent for projective speaking, a skill essential for a strong lead actor.
After acting in many radio dramas, Widmark was cast as the sociopathic villain Tommy Udo in the movie “Kiss of Death.” It was his first major role and it won him his first and only Academy Award nomination. His act of pushing a wheelchair bound woman down a flight of stairs made him a villain that people loved to hate and typecast him a bit. In a humorous sidelight, Widmark mentions that a man was so incensed by what he did in the movie that he actually punched Widmark.
One clear point about Widmark that is indisputable is that he was an incredibly nice man. When black actor Sidney Poitier first came to Hollywood, Widmark made it a point to invite him over for dinner. The two were together in a movie where Widmark played a virulently racist man. Although his lines required Widmark to utter racial slurs, after the scenes were over, Widmark would go over and apologize to Poitier, saying that what he was saying are only his lines in a movie and not him.
Another interesting point is when Widmark is describing the early career of Marilyn Monroe. He describes her as a scared little girl, afraid to come out of her dressing room until the last instant and sometimes only after some significant pleading.
Widmark was a talented actor that appeared in over 60 films as well as making a large number of television appearances. His personal life was free of scandal, he was a demonstration that baseball manager Leo Durocher was wrong when he said, “Nice guys finish last.”