Arts and Humanities
Thu February 28, 2013
Keith Runyon Discusses Kentucky Ties to the Academy Awards
Keith Runyon, the former Courier-Journal editorial page editor, also takes great interest in film. He discussed Sunday night's Academy Awards ceremony—where a couple of Kentucky natives were recipients—recently with WFPL's Jonathan Bastian.
You can listen to the interview here:
And here are some of Runyon's notes:
On George Clooney:
Clooney, an Augusta, Ky., native, received a best supporting actor Oscar in 2006 for his role in “Syriana.” This year he was a producer of the best picture winner, “Argo.” Clooney holds a record for being nominated in more categories – six – than any other film personality. In addition to his award in “Syriana,” he has been nominated for Best Actor for “Michael Clayton,” “Up in the Air” and “The Descendants.” He was nominated for best director and best screenwriter for “Good Night and Good Luck,” and for best screenwriter for “The Idea of March.”
Jennifer Lawrence won her Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook.” Two years ago she was first nominated for “Winter’s Bone.” She’s a Louisville native and at 22 the second youngest actress ever to win in the top female acting category.
“Lincoln” – Stephen Spielberg’s epic film about the Kentucky born president – didn’t win the best picture award, but Daniel Day-Lewis, an Anglo-Irishman, was named best actor for his role as the log-splitter.
On Kentucky's past Academy Award recipients:
It’s worth noting that the only other Kentucky native to win best actress was Patricia Neal, back in 1963, for her role in “Hud.” In 1968, after she recovered from a stroke, she was nominated for her starring role in “The Subject Was Roses.” Johnny Depp, a native of Owensboro, Ky., has been nominated three times for best actor, but hasn’t yet won an Oscar. Those nominated films were “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl,” “Finding Neverland” and “Sweeney Todd.”
On Kentucky's other celebrated film stars:
Tom Cruise was born in Syracuse, New York, but spent part of his childhood in Louisville, where he was known as Tommy Mapother. He’s been nominated for three best-actor Oscars (for “Born on the Fourth of July,” “Jerry Maguire” and “Magnolia,” but has yet to win.
There are other famous actors and actress from the Bluegrass state. Irene Dunne, star of “Show Boat,” “Life With Father” and “I Remember Mama,” among many other film classics was born in Louisville in 1898. She was nominated five times for an Oscar, but never won. Other Louisvillians to make it big in Hollywood including Jane Withers, the child star who was most noted for being the nasty child in Shirley Temple’s “Bright Eyes,” and Victor Mature, who starred in the first Cinemascope film, “The Robe,” back in 1953. Also from our town are notables such as Ned Beatty, who starred in “Deliverance,” Tod Browning, director of such famous horror films as the original “Dracula”.
George Clooney’s aunt, Rosemary, was best known as a singer and nightclub entertainer, but she starred in one classic film, “White Christmas” with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye. That was Paramount’s first film show in wide-screen VistaVision.
Radio and TV star William Conrad; Billy Gilbert, who was a movie comedian who did the voice for Sneezy in Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs”
Finally, Crestwood, Ky., was the birthplace of the father of the motion picture D.W. Griffith, who spent his early years as an actor in Louisville.
Looking across the river to Indiana, Winchester was the birthplace of director Robert Wise, who won Oscars for directing “West Side Story” and “The Sound of Music.”
Anne Baxter, who was nominated for Best Actress for her role in “All About Eve” and won for best supporting Actress in “The Razor’s Edge,” was born in Michigan City. Carol Lombard, who was nominated for Best Actress for the film “My Man Godfrey,” and later became the wife of actor Clark Gable, hailed from Fort Wayne. James Dean never won an Oscar in his brief career, but he was nominated twice for Best Actor, in 1955 for “East of Eden” and in 1956 for “Giant.” Both nominations came after Dean’s tragic death at age 24 in a car crash.
Michael Jackson, who never won an Oscar but won practically everything else, was born in Gary, Indiana. Red Skelton, a movie star in the 1940s and a big TV star in the Fifties and Sixties, came from Vincennes. Beulah Bondi, who played Jimmy Stewart’s mother in “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” was born in Valparaiso. Steve McQueen, born in Beach Gove, was nominated for best actor in 1965 for “The Sand Pebbles. And Clifton Webb, born in Indianapolis, was nominated for an acting Oscar three times: for “Laura,” “Sitting Pretty” and “The Razor’s Edge.” Webb, of course, is best known today for his role as the father in “Cheaper by the Dozen.”