QUINCY, Ill. - Despite having lengthy careers, several of the 10 veteran actors meeting the public at the Great River Film Festival on Thursday through Saturday are still active in their profession. They also enjoyed meeting each other, some for the first time, while their movies and television shows were being screened at the Atrium on Third Street hotel in Quincy.
One still acting was Buck Taylor, who has become an artist while also continuing to act in a series. His art gallery in Fort Worth, Texas, features his American watercolors. He followed his dad, the late Dub Taylor, to become an actor in Westerns for the past 65 years. He is remembered as Newly O'Brien in “Gunsmoke,” and he acted with Kevin Costner in the “Yellowstone” series.
Terry Moore was another attendee, who was happy to still be acting. Moore received a Lifetime Achievement Award during the film festival. She has made 200 movies and was nominated for an Emmy award for “Come Back, Little Sheba.” At age 11, she made her movie debut in “Maryland.” One of her favorite roles was with Glenn Ford in “Return of October.” Her latest role is in “The Silent Life” about Valentino, which finished filming in September and has not been released.
Moore's then-husband, Howard Hughes, inspired her first two books, “Beauty and the Billionaire” and “Passions of Howard Hughes.” Her third book, “How Do You Stay So Young?” offers advice on several topics. Describing herself as “a very strong Christian,” Moore was happy to report she will celebrate her 90th birthday in January.
Patrick Wayne, son of the late John Wayne, acted in many of his dad's films, but for the past 15 years has been director of the John Wayne Cancer Research Institute in Santa Monica, Calif. His dad did not offer acting advice, he said, instead teaching by example.
“He was very professional, on-time and worked hard to be prepared for each role,” Patrick Wayne said.
After John Wayne's cancer death, Patrick Wayne and his siblings founded the Cancer Research Institute to honor him. “We never realized his name would still resonate 40 years later,” he said. Offering advice to future actors, he said, “You have to be passionate and really want to do it. And you have to deliver.”
Some actors described how their careers began in childhood. Lynda Day George was 12 when her mother lied about her age to enter her in a beauty contest in Phoenix. She took third place and began acting and making commercials. Her mother took her to New York at age 15, where she became part of the Eileen Ford modeling agency. While making the movie, “The Gentle Rain,” in Brazil, she met her future husband, Christopher George. Day George enjoyed acting, especially in “Rat Patrol,” “Mission Impossible” and “Roots.” She advised would-be actors to “Be patient and go slow. … You can save your life by going slow.”
Character actor Warren Berlinger has been acting for 72 years, since beginning at age 8 in 1946. He was playing on the street in Brooklyn when he was discovered and was scheduled for an audition for “Annie Get Your Gun.” When the director asked, “Can you read?” he responded “Yes. Can you read?” and was hired. He has acted in 42 films, nine Broadway shows and 1,000 television episodes. He especially enjoyed making “Love, American Style,” and acting with Elvis in “Spinout.” He is executive director of the Entertainment Industry Health and Welfare Plan in Chatsworth, Calif.
Lana Wood also began acting as a child, at age 8 in “The Searchers.” Her sister, the late Natalie Wood, “made it a point” to not help her, so no one could say Lana was successful because of her. Being several years younger than Natalie, Lana grew up among actors and considered this normal, not realizing her sister was famous. Her favorite role was in “Wild, Wild West,” because “it was so much fun. I got to be relaxed. I'd known Bobby Conrad since I was a kid.” Lana is still acting, doing independent films, including “The Book of Ruth,” seven years ago. She also keeps busy raising her late daughter's three children.
Kim Lankford, who is remembered for her role in “Knot's Landing,” is glad the cast has had a couple of reunions. When filming a series, she said, “You are like family.” Describing her favorites as “in the western genre,” she added she now plays and writes music. She recently acted in a “Donner Party” movie. Previous roles were “Fantasy Island,” “The Hardy Boys” and “The Love Boat.”
Actor Ron Masak enjoyed working with Angela Lansbury in “Murder, She Wrote,” calling her the Rolls-Royce of acting. “I enjoyed everything I did,” he added, naming “Shenandoah” as the favorite. Masak is continuing his career, and preparing to make “Quidley II,” about autistic children who make toys. It is expected to be distributed by the Christmas season in 2021. Masak has done a 90-minute Mark Twain show, and shared some of his favorite Twain quotes, including “Don't give up your illusions. If you do, you will continue to be alive, but you will cease to live.”
The film festival included appearances by Lisa Loring and Chris Noel and screening of their work.
One highlight was a salute to the late Cliff Edwards of Hannibal, who did the voice of Jiminy Cricket in “Pinocchio.”
See photo gallery for more photos of the actors.