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Kansas cast of Hollywood notables gets a bit longer

  • Published Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011, at 12:04 a.m.

As if there was ever any doubt, Kansas is perfectly capable of producing star-caliber residents. Just last week on this page, writer Bob Curtright produced a 74-inch story about Kansans who went on to make it big in film and television. (For your information, 74 inches is newspaper-speak for "very, very long story.")

He included a long list of notables, including "Gone With the Wind" Oscar winner Hattie McDaniel, Topeka-born Annette Bening and up-and-coming funnyman Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cameron on TV's "Modern Family."

He covered his bases well, mentioning a total of 30 stars. (Oh, and for the record, we've since discovered that Paul Rudd was born in New Jersey and not Kansas, but since he attended the University of Kansas, and because he's hilarious, we're still going to claim him.)

But after the story appeared, several readers chimed in with "I can't believe you missed" e-mails and comments.

One reader pointed out that we'd missed Vera Miles, who was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Pratt and also lived in Wichita, graduating from Wichita North High. (Last week's story focused on stars born in Kansas.)

Still, Miles is worth a mention. She was crowned Miss Kansas in 1948 and went on to enjoy a film career throughout the 1950s and 1960s, starring in movies such as "The Wrong Man" with Henry Fonda and a supporting role in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho."

She lives now in California.

Other omissions that readers pointed out:

* Emmett Kelly was born in Sedan in 1898 and was a circus performer most famous for his hobo clown "Weary Willie."

* Patrice Wymore was born in Miltonvale and spent her childhood traveling with her vaudeville-performing family. She became a Broadway regular, and eventually moved to California to start a film and television career. Her most notable film roles include 1950s movies such as "Rocky Mountain" with Errol Flynn, whom she eventually married, as well as "The Man Behind the Gun" and "King's Rhapsody."

* Max Showalter, aka Casey Adams, was born in Caldwell in 1917 and is best known for his role in 1953's "Niagara," which starred Marilyn Monroe.

* Billy Drago was born in Hugoton in 1948, worked as a stuntman at Boot Hill in Dodge City and went to KU. His film career started in 1979, and his most notable role was that of Al Capone's henchman Frank Nitti in 1987's "The Untouchables."

* Angus Scrimm is a Kansas City, Kan., native who made a career out of playing villains such as The Tall Man in 1979's "Phantasm."

* David Rees Snell is a hunky, Wichita-born actor whose credits include television shows such as "The Shield," "Criminal Minds" and "The Unit."

* John Lehr hails from Overland Park and has appeared in shows such as "10 Items or Less" on TBS and the short-lived "Cavemen."

* Stacey Hinnen is a young actor from Kansas and a KU graduate who's appeared in television shows such as "Modern Family," "Scrubs," "Without a Trace" and "Grey's Anatomy." He also has a role in the "The Rig," a 2010 sci-fi thriller also starring William Forsyth.

* Kevin Schmidt is the brother of Kendall Schmidt, who was mentioned in Bob's story. He's 22 and has appeared in "The Young and the Restless" and in the movie "Cheaper by the Dozen."

* Taryn Southern is a native Wichitan I've written about several times whose biggest role to date is that of Allison on the TV show "Rules of Engagement."

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