From 417-land to Fame
While us Springfieldians know and love Brad Pitt and proudly claim him as our own, the recent awards season had us wondering: Do we have any additional ties to the Academy Awards? After a little bit of digging, a few calls and a whole lot of Google research, we found a few more to share. Pass the popcorn and enjoy!
DISCLAIMER: The information in this article was fact checked and accurate at press time, but 417 Magazine cannot guarantee its accuracy indefinitely.
William Allen Horning, who received posthumous Academy Awards for Best Art Direction for Gigi and Ben-Hur, lived in Springfield as a young man.
William Allen Horning
Awards and Nominations: William Allen Horning received a posthumous Academy Award for Best Art Direction for best picture winner Gigi in 1958, and in 1959 Horning won the Academy Award for Best Art Direction for Ben-Hur. He also received an additional posthumous Oscar nomination in 1959 for North by Northwest, as well as a few other nominations in previous years.
Local Tie: While we weren’t able to confirm how long Horning lived here, we talked about his Springfield tie with one of his remaining local family members, Edith Horning Ulrich. “My grandfather and William’s father were brothers,” Ulrich says. As she thumbed through pages of her old family scrapbooks, Ulrich proudly showed us a photo of Horning’s grandfather, William H., pictured with her father, George, and other family members. In the photograph, the family is standing in front of a Springfield homestead (today the area is known as Monte Vista and Horning Drive). The home is still standing today, and Ulrich says she knows Horning was born in Springfield and lived here as a young man. Horning is noted with 50-plus credits of art direction, and he worked on productions including Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Wizard of Oz and Marie Antoinette.
Nomination: In 1986, Kathleen Turner was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for Peggy Sue Got Married.
Local Tie: Turner was born in Springfield in 1954. She graduated from American School in London in 1972, but the family moved back to the United States after her father died, and Kathleen later enrolled in college at what is today known as Missouri State University for two years. Turner starred in several other popular films, including Romancing the Stone and The War of the Roses, and she has won two Golden Globe Awards.
Tess Harper graduated from MSU before moving to Hollywood. Here she’s at the Los Angles premiere of No Country for Old Men at the El Capitan Theatre.
Nomination: In 1986, Tess Harper was nominated for an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Crimes of the Heart.
Local Tie: Tess Harper was born in Mammoth Spring, Arkansas. She attended Southwest Missouri State University (now MSU), graduating from the school with a degree in education. Her earlier days included acting in theater productions and appearances at theme parks, including the former Dogpatch, USA, and Silver Dollar City.
Award: In 1986, Tom Whitlock won an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for the song “Take My Breath Away” in Top Gun.
Local Tie: Tom Whitlock was born and raised in Springfield. He attended Glendale High School and then Drury University, where he spread his college career over several decades. He also won a Golden Globe Award for “Take My Breath Away,” and has had music featured in Beverly Hills Cop and Ten Things I Hate About You, among others.