Awards Season Hits Ohio

Audiences could hunker down for a double feature of I Escaped from the Gestapo and Cowboy in Manhattan. Courtesy of Tiffin-Seneca Public Library. Via Ohio Memory.

With New Year’s celebrations behind us, Awards Season is upon us! Cinephiles are gearing up to catch up on this year’s most anticipated Oscar contenders, and the entertainment world is abuzz with predictions and fan favorites for the Academy Awards. Ohio doesn’t necessarily come to mind as a state that bears Hollywood stars and filmmakers, but many household names have Ohio roots–Paul Newman, Steven Spielberg, Halle Berry, Ed O’Neill, and Patricia Heaton to name a few. Let’s take a look at some of Ohio’s historic nominees and award-winners!

This top 10 Neilsen ratings list was included in the 1989 Grand Valley High School yearbook, showing that year’s Academy Awards broadcast reaching 26.9 million American homes. Courtesy of Grand Valley Public Library. Via Ohio Memory.

Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Tyrone Power came from a family of well-established and distinguished actors. Early in his career, Power mostly performed in Broadway productions, such as Saint Joan and Romeo and Juliet. He caught his big break in 1936 when he starred as the lead in Henry King’s Lloyd’s of London, and was regularly cast in hit films for the rest of his career. One of his most famous roles was that of the masked swordsman Zorro in The Mark of Zorro (1940), based on Johnston McCulley’s 1919 novel The Curse of Capistrono. This film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Score. One of 2022’s Oscar contenders is Guillermo del Torro’s Nightmare Alley, a remake of the 1947 original, in which Power played the lead role.

The pamphlet excerpt featured at the beginning of this post shows movie poster advertisements for Schine’s Tiffin Theater, once located in Tiffin, Ohio. Included is I Escaped from the Gestapo (1943), starring Ohio native Dean Jagger. In this film, Jagger portrays Torgut Lane, a forger who is forced to work for Nazi spies printing counterfeit bills in the United States. His character eventually reports this illegal activity to the FBI by engraving a recognizable symbol revealing the truth on a printing plate. However, Jagger is most well-known for his role in another World War II film, Twelve O’Clock High (1949), for which he won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

The November 8, 1995, issue of North Canton’s The Sun advertises Holbrook’s Mark Twain Tonight! at University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall. Courtesy of North Canton Public Library. Via Ohio Memory.

Hal Holbrook was born in 1925 in Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in Lakewood by his grandparents. He attended Denison University in Granville, where he developed his one-man show Mark Twain Tonight!, for which he is best known. This humorous production featured Holbrook as Mark Twain, reciting some of Twain’s most famous writings, but adapting each performance and set with improvised bits that changed with the times, resulting in no two shows being alike. Holbrook toured across the United States performing Mark Twain Tonight! in various capacities from 1954 to 2017, winning a Tony in 1966 for Best Actor in a Play. Holbrook also won five Emmys for various television performances and was nominated for an Academy Award for Supporting Actor in Into the Wild (2008).

Ohio has a rich history in performing arts, and this field continues to be a strength for several Ohio colleges and universities to this day. Seemingly ordinary people can tell extraordinary stories. To learn more about Ohio’s contributions to film and filmmaking, browse Ohio Memory!

Thank you to Kristen Newby, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!

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