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May 18, 2008

A+ SERIES: County's Hollywood connections

ANDERSON — From early silent movies filmed in black and white to the latest in computer-animated storytelling, Madison County has left its footprint on American cinema.

Hollywood films like “Independence Day,” “Hoodwinked” and “That Darn Cat” and television shows including “Bonanza,” “I Love Lucy” and “Law & Order” have all featured Hoosier talent plucked from the county.

Actors, directors and screenwriters from Anderson, Elwood, Frankton and Pendleton are chronicled in Ball State University professor David Smith’s book, “Hoosiers in Hollywood.”

The earliest Madison County Hoosier on film, according to Smith’s list, was Helen Weir, a silent film actress from Anderson. Weir was featured in “The Builder of Bridges” (1915), “The Social Secretary” (1916), “The Incorrigible Dukane” (1923) and “Love’s Old Sweet Song” (1923).

Weir was followed into the film acting world by Anderson natives Michael Champion and James Rebhorn, who’ve found fame playing supporting roles in major Hollywood movies.

Champion’s career includes roles in “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984), “Total Recall” (1990) and “Toy Soldiers” (1991). Champion has since left Hollywood’s spotlight, but Rebhorn is continuing to add credits to his name.

From daytime television stints on “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns” to prime-time television shows like “Law & Order” and “The Practice,” Rebhorn, an alumnus of Madison Heights High School, has dominated the small screen. He has also played large roles in Hollywood blockbusters like “Basic Instinct” (1992), “Independence Day” (1996), “The Game” (1997), “I Love Trouble” (1994), “Carlito’s Way” (1993), “Meet the Parents” (2000) and “Cold Mountain” (2003). Viewers can catch Rebhorn playing a judge in the new Tina Fey comedy “Baby Mama,” in theaters now.

Rebhorn’s filmography, according to the Internet Movie Database, includes more than 100 roles in film and television.

Elwood actors David Canary, Mary Jane Croft and Greg Neff have also captivated American audiences in a collection of roles on both the big and small screens.

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