WIDMARK, Richard

(1914–2008)
   Born in Minnesota and raised in Illinois, Richard Widmark broke into film at his peak, winning an Academy Award nomination for his first film, Kiss of Death (1947). While he was never again nominated, he nevertheless developed a long, distinguished career, first in war movies and films noir. But Widmark also played in many great Westerns. He usually played the quick-witted, fast-talking cynic, in contrast to the stereotypical silent cowboy heroes such as Gary Cooper, with whom Widmark was paired in one of his first Westerns, Garden of Evil (1954). Hooker (Cooper) and Fiske (Widmark) are on their way to the gold fields when their ship is forced to put up at a Mexican port for repairs. Adesperate Leah Fuller (Susan Hayward) hires them to go deep into Mexico to rescue her husband, who is trapped at a gold mine. Hooker keeps his stiff, silent demeanor while Fiske, a gambler, keeps up a steady pace of cynical one-liners and rapid-fire card tricks.
   Widmark was one of Delmer Davies’favorite actors, using him in The Last Wagon (1956), opposite Felicia Farr; Warlock (1959) ; and Alvarez Kelly (1966). In Warlock, the sharp-tongued Johnny Gannon (Widmark) is paired with the stonily silent Blaisedell (Henry Fonda). John Ford cast Widmark as his lead in Cheyenne Autumn (1964), and John Wayne cast him as Jim Bowie in The Alamo (1960). The Way West (1967) and Death of a Gunfighter (1969) were Widmark’s last Westerns.
   See also CARD PLAY AND THE COWBOY HERO; CLASSIC WESTERNS; GAMBLER, PROFESSIONAL.

Historical Dictionary of Westerns in Cinema. . 2012.

Look at other dictionaries:

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