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Letters to the Editor

Honoring Richard Widmark

Fans of Richard Widmark (1914-2008), the 1932 Princeton High School graduate who became a Hollywood movie star, have 15 more reasons to go to the Princeton Public Library, check out a Widmark movie, and rediscover this remarkable actor.

Among the 15 Widmark films that I recently bought and donated to the library is “How the West Was Won,” a 1962 star-studded epic that was filmed using the Cinerama wide-screen process.

Widmark plays a hard-driving railroad construction foreman in a segment about the building of the transcontinental railroad after the Civil War.

Other movies new to the library’s Widmark film collection are “The Street with No Name” and “Road House” (both from 1948), “Halls of Montezuma” (1950), “O. Henry’s Full House” (1952), “Saint Joan” (1957), “The Trap” (1959), “The Long Ships,” “Flight from Ashiya” and “Cheyenne Autumn” (all from 1964), “The Sell-Out” (1976), “Rollercoaster” (1977), “The Swarm” (1978), “A Gathering of Old Men” (1987), and “Once Upon a Texas Train” (1988).

Two of Widmark’s co-stars among those films — John Wayne (“How the West Was Won”) and Jean Seberg (“Saint Joan”) — also came from Midwestern towns.

Winterset, Iowa, where Wayne was born, plans a John Wayne Birthday Celebration on May 24-25. Hollywood star Maureen O’Hara has accepted the community’s invitation to attend. The festival, “A Tribute to Maureen O’Hara,” will feature big-screen showings of all the films starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, a barbecue and dance, and a dinner and auction to benefit the John Wayne Birthplace Museum.

Marshalltown, Iowa, where Seberg was born and grew up, held its second annual Jean Seberg International Film Festival this past November. The four-day festival featured the showing of eight Seberg films in Marshalltown’s impressive Orpheum Theater Center, documentaries, exhibits, symposiums, and bus tours of Marshalltown sites associated with the film star’s early life.

Proud of their famous former residents, Winterset and Marshalltown residents got together and acted to preserve the accomplishments of John Wayne and Jean Seberg.

I think Princeton area residents ought to do something similar for Richard Widmark, who would have turned 100 in 2014.

By the way, thanks to library Director Julie Wayland, Widmark Wednesday is back during May at the Princeton Public Library.

Please join Widmark fans at 6:30 p.m. May 8 and 22, and 6 p.m. May 29 to view three of Widmark’s adventure films from the 1950s. There will be no movie on May 15.

Jim Dunn


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