Richard Widmark dead after life portraying killers, heroes
Richard Widmark, the poker-faced actor who made his name portraying sadistic villains and gunslingers, died at age 93, his family said Wednesday. ( dpa )
Widmark died Monday in his home in the US state of Connecticut, according to media reports.
Widmark made his screen debut in 1947 in the thriller Kiss of Death, portraying a psychopathic killer who giggles as he ties up an old woman in a wheelchair and pushes her down the stairs.
Even his upbeat roles, like the doctor in Elia Kazan's Panic in the Streets (1950) who fights bubonic plague, or the daredevil pilot in Slattery's Hurricane (1949) were laced with nerve-wracking tension, The New York Times wrote online.
Widmark once noted the tendency of movie fans to "fasten on to one aspect of the actor, and then they decide what they want you to be."
"The truth is that the only person who can ever really play himself is a baby," the Times quoted him as saying.
Before his acting career, Widmark worked as a teacher and was married 55 years to his college sweetheart, actress Jean Hazelwood, until her death in the 1990s - a rarity in the film industry's divorce factory.
"I happen to like my wife a lot," he was quoted as saying.
In 1999, he married the actress Susan Blanchard, the ex-wife of the late Hollywood legend Henry Fonda.
Other roles made famous by Widmark included the dauphin to Jean Seberg's Joan of Arc in Saint Joan (1957); Jim Bowie, the famous frontiersman who made the last stand in The Alamo (1960); an American army colonel prosecuting German war criminals in Judgement at Nuremberg (1961); and the evil hospital director in Coma (1978.)