Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Minnesota Movie Stars

Wick's World


Some people are born actors. If the part called for a larger than life, arrogant loud-mouth to play the role of a wrestler turned politician, one need look no farther than Jimmy Janos, better known as Jesse Ventura, the former governor of the state of Minnesota. After he “shocked the world” Jesse hit center stage running. I fell for the hype. My wife and I headed down to the Target Center to watch an inauguration unprecedented in Minnesota history. Jesse blasted into the basketball arena atop a Harley-Davison motorcycle, his wife tightly gripping his muscular girth. The background music was provided by the band America. The song they were playing was “Ventura Highway” of course. Jesse did indeed take his last name from a small city in California, Ventura. Sitting astride the motorcycle, the exhaust mixed with a fog machine to create an otherworldly atmosphere, exactly the stage and setting befitting the newest rock star in national politics. With a pink feathered boa wrapped around his neck, the next governor of Minnesota would soon be performing a duet with Warren Zevon, “The Werewolves of London.”

After his musical performance received a blistering critique in the local newspapers, for Jesse, the honeymoon was over. I felt this was a chance squandered by the man who road the coattails of his KFAN radio show to victory. Jesse was great at dishing it out, but not so good at taking criticism. Jesse could have made my list of Minnesotans in the movies even without becoming governor. His accolades include roles opposite the great Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. His first starring role came in Predator which gave birth to his famous one-liner, “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

He followed that 1987 performance with The Running Man, Repossessed, Ricochet, Demolition Man, and Major League II. Shortly after inauguration, he appeared in Beyond the Mat and later that year in a famous documentary about himself titled, Jesse “The Body” Ventura: The Man, The Myth, The Legend.

One of my favorite actors was born and raised in South Minneapolis. His name is Eddie Albert better known as Oliver Wendall Holmes of Green Acres fame.

One of Hollywood’s legends was the great Marlon Brando. Following in his father’s footsteps, he had a short stay at Shattuck Military Academy in Faribault. Hating everything about the place, Brando called it “The Military Asylum.” Brando’s stay at the military academy in Minnesota lasted just slightly less than two years, not quite long enough to graduate.

Other famous Minnesotans on television and in movies include Loni Anderson, James Arness (Matt Dillon’s Gunsmoke), Richard Anderson (MacGyver), and Robert Vaughn (The Man from Uncle). Some current actresses include the love-child daughter Winona Ryder who took the name of the town where she was born. And, of course, there’s Cloquet’s own Jessica Lange. Prince is worthy of inclusion for his hugely successful Purple Rain.

No other Minnesotan comes close to having the star impact on Hollywood than Frances Ethel Gumm. Born in Grand Rapids, Minnesota, she soon adopted her stage name of Judy Garland. Her meteoric rise (and fall) to fame and fortune was short-lived. Bing Crosby once said about her, “There wasn’t a thing that gal couldn’t do…except look after herself.”

Ray Bolger said this: “Judy didn’t die. She just wore out.”


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