Monday, October 23, 2006

A Hollywood-Broadway Connection

I saw Clint Eastwood's new movie, Flags of Our Fathers, Sunday night.

One of the things that struck me about the film was Eastwood's casting of several distinguished Broadway actors in some of the supporting roles. These were people I recognized because I have seen them on stage, not on TV or in the movies.

Examples include Len Cariou, George Grizzard, George Hearn, John Benjamin Hickey, Judith Ivey, and Harve Presnell.

(Here's a bit of trivia: In which movie musical did Clint Eastwood co-star with Harve Presnell? Answer below.)

I saw Len Cariou in the Kennedy Center's production of Neil Simon's The Dinner Party with Henry Winkler and John Ritter. Cariou is a three-time Tony nominee, winning in 1979 for Sweeney Todd.

I last saw George Grizzard as Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof during the KenCen's Tennessee Williams Festival. Grizzard has also been nominated for three Tony Awards, winning in 1996 for A Delicate Balance.

I ran into George Hearn -- another Sweeney Todd -- at the Kennedy Center's Spring Gala earlier this year. (Funny, I asked him specifically about any new projects he was involved with, and he failed to mention Flags of Our Fathers, instead demurring with, "Oh, I'm retired now." Too modest, too modest.) Hearn is a five-time Tony Award nominee, twice winning (for La Cages Aux Folles and for Sunset Boulevard).

The first time I saw John Benjamin Hickey was in the original Broadway cast of the vibrant play, Love! Valour! Compassion! He played the same role in the dreary film version. (Someone please remind me to post my review of that show.)

Judith Ivey is the recipient of not one, but two, Tony Awards -- for Steaming (1983) and Hurlyburly (1985), with one additional nomination under her belt.

And Harve Presnell, of course, co-starred with both Tammy Grimes and Debbie Reynolds in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Presnell won a Golden Globe for "Most Promising Newcomer - Male" in 1965, which he shared with George Segal and Topol. (What joint award will never be a Jeopardy answer?)

* * *

What was the movie musical starring Clint Eastwood and Harve Presnell? Why, Paint Your Wagon, of course, which also starred Jean Seberg and Lee Marvin. Keep that in mind the next time you're playing Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

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