Monday, December 13, 2010

Remembering Van Heflin

Emmett Evan Heflin, Jr. was born on December 13, 1910 in Walters, Oklahoma. His father was a dentist and his sister Frances Heflin [1920-1994] became an accomplished actress. Emmett attended the University of Oklahoma and then began his acting career on Broadway in the early 1930s. He was signed by RKO Radio Pictures and made his film debut in “A Woman Rebels” (1936) with Katharine Hepburn. In 1940 he signed with M-G-M and appeared in “Santa Fe Trail” and in 1942 he won an Oscar for best supporting actor in “Johnny Eager”. He then became a leading man in B films and supporting roles in more prestigious films. One of his best roles was in “Tennessee Johnson” (1942) about the near impeachment of President Andrew Johnson with Lionel Barrymore. During World War II he served as a combat cameraman in the Ninth Air Force with the First Motion Picture Unit. After the war he returned to films and appeared in probably his most familiar role as Joe Starrett in “Shane” (1953) with Alan Ladd. In 1957 he appeared as Dan Evans in “3:10 to Yuma” with Glenn Ford. During his career Van also continued his stage career in such plays as “The Philadelphia Story” and “A View from the Bridge”. He appeared on radio as “Philip Marlowe” from 1947-1951. When his career started to fade in the 1960s he went to Europe and starred in his only Euro-western “The Ruthless Four” (1968) with Gilbert Roland, Klaus Kinski and George Hilton. His last film appearance was in 1970's “Airport”. Van suffered a heart attack on July 6, 1971 and died on July 23rd never re-gaining consciousness. Today we remember Van Heflin on what would have been his 100th birthday.

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