The Tony Award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival has launched many an actor's path to fame over its 76-year history, from comedian Dick Cavett to film star William Hurt to "Boston Public's" Anthony Heald.
The festival "is absolutely a training ground" for other theaters, film and television, says Scott Kaiser, OSF's director of company development. He notes that it's part of his job to develop actors' gifts and potential.
Often, he adds, actors develop their skills to a high level at OSF and could seek fame in the big city but choose to stay in Ashland.
Here are some of the actors who've gone on to fame and fortune:
- Dick Cavett. A stand-up comic and actor, Cavett hosted a television variety show on daytime, prime time and late-night in the 1960s and 1970s and won two Emmys. He's since appeared in countless television shows and movies.
- William Hurt. Highly rated for performances in many popular movies, Hurt won acclaim in "Altered States" and went on to win the Best Actor Oscar for "Kiss of the Spider Woman" and Best Actor nominations for "Children of a Lesser God" and "Broadcast News."
- Stacy Keach. Keach played the title role of "Henry V" in OSF's 1963 production directed by Jerry Turner. He played the lead role in "Mike Hammer, Private Eye" in the 1990s and also appeared in "The New Centurions," "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean" and "W.," among multiple other roles.
- George Peppard. He was Audrey Hepburn's love interest in "Breakfast at Tiffany's" and starred in "How the West Was Won" and "The Blue Max." On TV, he was in the popular "The A-Team."
- Harry Anderson. He played the judge in TV's "Night Court." Charles Robinson, who returns to Ashland this season, also was on the show.
- Kyle MacLachlan. He acted in "Blue Velvet," "Showgirls," "Dune" and "The Doors." On TV, he was in "Desperate Housewives," played Charlotte's first husband in "Sex and the City" and was Special Agent Dale Cooper in "Twin Peaks," among many other roles.
- Anthony Heald, an Ashland resident, is famous as Dr. Frederick Chilton, who got outsmarted and eaten by imprisoned cannibal Hannibal Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs." He acted on Broadway, was nominated for Tony Awards, played Scott Guber in 81 episodes of "Boston Public" and acted in "X-Men," "Cheers," "Fraser," "Boston Legal" and other shows. He has recorded more than 60 audio books. He still sometimes acts at OSF, playing Shylock in last year's "Merchant of Venice" and the Duke of Vienna in this season's "Measure for Measure" and Cicero in "Julius Caesar."
- Joel David Moore. A fine arts graduate of Southern Oregon University, he acted in two seasons at OSF. He played Dr. Norm Spellman in "Avatar," and on TV, he's acted in "CSI," "House, M.D.," "My Name is Earl" and "Hawaii Five-0," among other shows.
- Jean Smart. She played the major role of Charlene Frazier Stillfield on the TV comedy "Designing Women" from 1986 to 1991 and was Lana Gardner / Lorna Lynley on "Fraser." She is now in the series "$h*! My Dad Says" and "Hawaii Five-0."
- Peter Frechette. His first major screen role was Louis DiMucci in "Grease 2." He also appeared in "The First Wives Club" and "The Hills Have Eyes, Part II." On TV, he acted in "thirtysomething," "Hill Street Blues," "Cagney & Lacey," "L.A. Law" and "Matlock."
- Gretchen Corbett. She acted in "The Rockford Files" with James Garner in the 1970s and other TV series, including "Columbo," "Gunsmoke," "Magnum P.I." and "Cheers."
- Harold Gould. The father of Rhoda in the "Mary Tyler Moore Show" and the spinoff "Rhoda," Gould acted in movies such as "The Sting" and "Patch Adams" and in countless TV shows, including "Ironside," "The Streets of San Francisco," "Dallas," "L.A. Law" and "Hawaii Five-0." He died last year.
- Powers Boothe. Just out of college in 1972, Boothe acted in the title role of OSF's "Henry IV, Part 2" and in "Troilus and Cressida." On screen he often played the bad guy, including the title role in "Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones," for which he won an Emmy award as Best Actor. He played Alexander Haig in Oliver Stone's "Nixon" and was in the films "Tombstone," "Southern Comfort," "Blue Sky" and "Red Dawn," among others. He also played Cy Tolliver in the acclaimed HBO series "Deadwood."
- Elizabeth Huddle. She acted and directed in many regional theaters and became artistic director at the Intiman Theatre in Seattle in 1987 and Portland Center Stage from 1994 to 2000. On television, she played the love interest of Cmdr. Howard Hunter on "Hill Street Blues," among other roles.
John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. E-mail him at email@example.com.
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