Oklahoma @ the Movies examines Sooners' cinema connections
BY GENE TRIPLETT
Who knew that the pretty blonde woman who comes face to face with Mrs. Bates in the climactic scene of “Psycho” was little Vera Jean Ralston of Boise City?
Or that the neurotic whiner who played Rock Hudson’s buddy in all those Doris Day comedies was Arthur Leonard Rosenberg, from Tulsa?
Or that the guy who guided Peter Sellers to international stardom in the “Pink Panther” series was William Blake Crump, also from Tulsa?
Or that the blacklisted screenwriter who won an Oscar for “A Place in the Sun” and a posthumous Academy Award for “The Bridge Over the River Kwai” grew up in McAlester?
The first three are better known as actress Vera Miles, actor Tony Randall and director Blake Edwards, and the beleaguered screenwriter was Michael Wilson, who wrote or co-wrote some of the most critically revered works in film history, including “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “Friendly Persuasion,” “Lawrence of Arabia” and the original “Planet of the Apes.”
Oklahoma movie buffs can learn all this and more about their state’s major contributions to the film art and industry when the Oklahoma History Center opens its latest pop-culture exhibit, “Oklahoma @ the Movies,” on Tuesday.
“It’s all about Oklahomans on the screen, Oklahomans behind the screen, the image of Oklahoma in the movies and going to the movies in Oklahoma,” said exhibit curator and Director of Collections Larry O’Dell as he stood in the middle of a vast roomful of memorabilia, artifacts, props and vintage equipment from the world of filmmaking.
One of the first sights the visitor encounters upon entering the museum’s Inasmuch exhibit hall is a strip of red carpet leading into the “Awards Section,” where five Oscar statuettes are displayed in a lighted glass case.
There’s the Best Actress trophy won by Tulsa native Phylis Lee Isley — better known as Jennifer Jones — for her work in the title role of “The Song of Bernadette” in 1943.
That Best Supporting Actor Oscar belonged to Walters-born Emmett Evan Heflin Jr. — aka Van Heflin — for his turn in the 1942 crime thriller “Johnny Eager” as the intellectual, alcoholic best friend of Robert Taylor’s title character.
Blake Edward’s honorary Oscar for his body of work as a writer, director and producer is on view, and so is Oklahoma City-based producer Gray
Frederickson’s Best Picture award for “The Godfather Part II.”
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