Ken & Tess

Hooray For Hollywood Talent From Minnesota

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Some very talented Minnesotans have won Oscar gold throughout the years.

Let’s start with Judy Garland (Frances Gumm) from Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Judy never won a competitive Oscar but she was presented with a “juvenile Oscar” for her portrayal of Dorothy in The Wizard Of Oz. The practice of rewarding young and up and coming performers with these “juvenile Oscars” was discontinued in the early 1960s.  Judy was later nominated for two Oscars. The fact that Judy did not win the 1955 Best Actress Oscar for her performance in “A Star Is Born” is still considered one of the biggest shockers in Academy history. The surprise winner was the soon to be Princess of Monaco, Grace Kelly for her work in the movie “A Country Girl”.

The most honored on screen performer with Minnesota roots is Jessica Lange, a 1967 graduate of Cloquet High School. She left the 1983 Academy Awards ceremony with the Best Supporting Actress Oscar in hand having been recognized for her work as Dustin Hoffman’s love interest in “Tootsie”.  Eleven years later, she took home the Best Actress trophy  for her superior work in “Blue Sky”, a film which co-starred Tommy Lee Jones and which was seen by very few movie goers.

Joel and Ethan Coen graduated from St Louis Park High School in the 1970s. These two brothers have since gone on to win 4 Academy Awards for their work behind the camera. They first struck screenwriting gold  for their script of that 1996 Minnesota classic, “Fargo”.  In 2007, they were rewarded with Best Screenwriting, Best Director and Best Picture Oscars for their production of “No Country For Old Men”. All told, the Coens have been nominated for 14 Academy Awards. “Fargo” is one of  my favorites.  However, it seems that many Minnesotans still take umbrage with the heavy use of regional colloquialisms and “scandinoovian speak” which the Coens employed to tell their story. I loved it–you betcha, yaaah.

Finally, let’s not forget that Hibbing’s native son, Bob Dylan, is an Oscar winner. The troubadour from “The Range” won the Best Original Song Oscar for a tune called “Things Have Changed” from the 2001 feature, “The Wonder Boys”.

The list of Minnesotans who have achieved success both in front of and behind the camera is impressive. I’m sure that you can name more than a few.