It is being reported that Academy nominated actor Richard Widmark, best known for his role as the giggling murderer in Kiss of Death in 1947 has died at his home in Roxbury at the age of 93.
“When he was off the screen, he was just a down-to-earth guy and fun,” actress Shirley Jones, who appeared with Widmark in “Two Rode Together,” said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. “But I admired him as an actor as well. He had that passion.”
He was born on December 26 1914, in Sunrise, Minnesota. “Like most small-town boys, I had the urge to get to the big city and make a name for myself,” he recalled in a 1954 interview. “I was a movie nut from the age of 3, but I don’t recall having any interest in acting.”
“I know I’ve made kind of a half-assed career out of violence, but I abhor violence,” he remarked in a 1976 Associated Press interview. “I am an ardent supporter of gun control. It seems incredible to me that we are the only civilized nation that does not put some effective control on guns.”
He turned to acting after being rejected from the army due to a punctured eardrum, and never looked back. “The director, Henry Hathaway, didn’t want me,” the actor recalled. “I have a high forehead; he thought I looked too intellectual.” The director was overruled by studio boss Darryl F. Zanuck, and Hathaway “gave me kind of a bad time.”
“He was a damn good actor,” said close friend Karl Malden. “He knew what he was doing, he could do it well, and he hated anyone he worked with who wasn’t prepared, because he came ready to go.”