Page 5 - The Woods Magazine - Summer 2012

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The man who portrayed Doc Holliday is now
Dr. Kilmer, a title bestowed on him with the
honorary degree he received May 5 from
William Woods University. Kilmer was
the speaker for the school’s 142nd
Doc Holliday was a gambler, gunfighter,
and dentist of the Old West, known for his
friendship with Wyatt Earp.
Val Kilmer
who played Holliday in the 1993 movie,
“Tombstone,” joked during his speech to
the graduates that, “Maybe they liked
Doc Holliday so much they wanted me
to be Doc Kilmer.”
Kilmer came to WWU at the invitation of
the president,
Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett
, and her
husband, Eddie, who is a friend of the actor.
Barnett has stated that her “personal favorite”
of Kilmer’s movie roles is indeed
Doc Holliday.
The faculty voted to present an
Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts to Kilmer
in recognition of his creative abilities and
his contributions to art and theater.
One of the most prolific actors of his
generation, Kilmer’s memorable roles include
Batman in “Batman Forever,” Jim Morrison
in Oliver Stone’s “The Doors,” and Simon
Templar in “The Saint.” He has worked with
many of film’s most respected directors
and actors.
Kilmer’s latest project is a film that
focuses attention on two important people
from the 19th century, Mark Twain and Mary
Baker Eddy. Starring as Mark Twain in the
movie, Kilmer also wrote the screenplay. He
currently is performing on stage in a play he
wrote called “Citizen Twain.”
While at William Woods, Kilmer was
transformed by makeup, clothing, words, and
actions into a realistic likeness of Missouri’s
homegrown author and humorist, Mark
Twain. Kilmer performed “Citizen Twain”
to a sold-out crowd in historic Dulany
Auditorium May 1.
Kilmer also held a question and answer
session with students and posed for pictures
at a dinner in his honor. People from the
community reported spotting him shopping
in local book and antique stores.
Many were surprised when Kilmer chose
to spend a week in Fulton, Mo., a town of
about 12,000 in mid-Missouri. However, he
was not the only celebrity to visit William
Woods over the years.
Others have included actors William
Shatner and Mike Farrell, best-selling author
Rita Mae Brown, “Mr. Las Vegas” Wayne
Newton, and Boston Pops Orchestra
conductor, John Williams.
Perhaps the most famous person to
serve as commencement speaker was
Ronald Reagan, who was president of the
Screen Actors Guild when he addressed the
graduates 60 years ago. His speech offered
a glimpse of world events as seen through the
eyes of a man who would one day become
President of the United States.
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By Mary Ann Beahon