RICHARD WIDMARK: THE FACE OF FILM NOIR by Brian W. Fairbanks

"Well, hereís that laughing sonofabitch,"
the Duke purportedly sneered when introduced to the actor at a party several years later.* But if Wayne couldnít warm to Widmark, the rest of Hollywood did. In addition to earning an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor, Widmark was named "most promising newcomer" at the Golden Globe Awards, and, in 1949, less than two years after his film debut, he placed his hand and footprints in cement outside Graumannís Chinese Theater.

Such recognition was a tribute to the impact of Widmarkís screen debut, but that impact proved both a blessing and a curse. Under contract to 20th Century Fox, Widmark successfully lobbied studio head Darryl F. Zanuck for more varied roles, but though he would remain an above the title star well into the 70s, the kind of recognition he received at the beginning of his career would not be repeated. He has been honored at Telluride and by the Museum of Modern Art, but has been passed over for the more highly coveted life achievement honors from the American Film Institute and the Kennedy Center. He is also conspicuously absent from many of those mammoth coffee table books about
"The Movie Stars."

* Source: John Wayne's America by Gary Wills (1998: Touchstone Books)

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