Seldom a leading man — in fact a character actor almost from his start in movies — Van Heflin was one of the stalwart actors of Hollywood’s Golden Era.
One of our 2,000 followers on Twitter is a BIG Heflin fan, and keeps bugging us to write more about the star so here goes. To satisfy popular demand, we are devoting this week’s summertime Mini-Quiz to this consummate actor.
Unlike most classic Hollywood stars, Heflin looked “recognizably American.” He often portrayed the principled father-husband, but could turn it on convincingly when a movie called for a measure of nastiness.
Make no mistake. Despite his aw-shucks facade, the former Emmett Evan Heflin Jr. (born in Oklahoma in 1910) was an accomplished craftsman who worked hard on each of the some 66 movie and tv roles he assumed before his death of a heart attack in 1971, at the age of 60.
Ok, Heflin fans. Let’s see how much your known about your Van. As usual, questions today and answers tomorrow. Here we go:
1) Question: Perhaps Heflin’s most memorable performance was delivered in George Stevens’ 1953 western, Shane, costarring Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Jack Palance and Emil Meyer. Who played the character of “Joey,” Heflin’s son in the picture who implores the title character — “C0me Back, Shane” — at the movie’s emotional finale? a) Freddie Bartholomew; b) Roddy McDowell; c) Jackie Cooper; or d) Brandon deWilde.
2) Question: Which studio boss told Heflin that with his looks, you will never get the girl at the end? a) Harry Cohn; b) Darryl Zanuck; c) Louis B. Mayer; or d) David Zelznick.
3) Question: Heflin’s private life was livened up by his second wife, a former actress who was a real social whirlwind. Who is she? a) Mae West; b) Linda Darnell; c) Frances Neal; or d) Terry Moore.
4) Question: Heflin costarred with Robert Ryan and an aging Mary Astor in a 1948 noir thriller directed by Fred Zinnemann. Can you identify this picture?
5) Question: Heflin costarred with Glenn Ford in what is now considered one of the best westerns ever made. Can you name the film? (Hint: It was remade — badly — in 2007 with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale).