SPRINGFIELD – He was Rob Petrie, Bert the Chimney Sweep, Caractacus Potts and countless other characters. Now Dick Van Dyke’s latest role is top actor in Illinois history, as chosen by voters in the Illinois Top 200 project.
Van Dyke, who grew up in Danville, was followed by Bill Murray of “Ghostbusters” and “Groundhog Day” fame and two-time Oscar winner Gene Hackman, a fellow Danville native.
Also in the top five: Harrison Ford, king of the Hollywood blockbusters, and Gary Sinise, a character actor who has played everything from “Lieutenant Dan” to corrupt cops.
“The creative arts, specifically theater, film, and comedy, are deeply imbedded in the fabric of our state,” said Illinois FILM Office Director Christine Dudley. “These talented Illinoisans have shaped their genres and the entire industry. We celebrate their achievements and our rich history as we continue to cultivate the next generation of great talent and a thriving film industry here in Illinois.”
The Illinois Top 200 project lets Illinoisans vote every two weeks on the most inspiring leaders, greatest inventions, top businesses and much more. By the state’s 200th birthday on Dec. 3, voters will have chosen 10 favorites in 20 different categories – the Illinois Top 200.
Voting in the next category, top entertainers, is underway at www.IllinoisTop200.com. The nominees include Richard Pryor, Walt Disney, Shonda Rhimes, Katherine Dunham and Bob Newhart.
Here are the top 10 Illinois actors chosen in online voting:
- Dick Van Dyke – The beloved actor, singer and dancer was raised in Danville. He won a Tony for “Bye Bye Birdie,” then reached national stardom with “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and appeared in such films as “Mary Poppins” and “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.”
- Bill Murray – After growing up in Wilmette, Murray achieved fame on “Saturday Night Live” and later starred in such classic comedies as “Ghostbusters,” “Caddyshack” and “Groundhog Day.”
- Gene Hackman – Hackman spent most of his childhood in Danville, later joining the Marines and then embarking on a film career that includes “The French Connection,” “Hoosiers” and “Mississippi Burning.” He won two Oscars.
- Harrison Ford – Born in Chicago and raised in its suburbs, Ford became a Hollywood superstar playing Han Solo and Indiana Jones. Other notable movies include “The Fugitive,” “Blade Runner” and “Witness.”
- Gary Sinise – Sinise grew up in Blue Island, studied at Illinois State and launched his career at Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre. He won two Emmys and received an Oscar nomination for “Forrest Gump.”
- Charlton Heston – Heston was raised in the Chicago suburbs. He appeared in 100 films, including “The Ten Commandments” and “Planet of the Apes.” He won an Oscar for “Ben Hur.”
- Marlon Brando – Brando grew up in the Chicago suburbs. He became one of the greatest actors in history with performances in “On the Waterfront,” “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now.”
- John Belushi – Belushi was born in Chicago, grew up in the suburbs and learned his craft at Chicago’s Second City. He became a star on “Saturday Night Live” and then a superstar in “Animal House” and “The Blues Brothers.”
- Melissa McCarthy – McCarthy, who grew near Plainfield, had her first big success on “Gilmore Girls” but reached new heights in the movie “Bridesmaids,” for which she received an Oscar nomination. She has also won two Emmys.
- John Malkovich – Malkovich, a Benton native, was a charter member of Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theatre Company. He starred in “Places in the Heart,” “In the Line of Fire” and “Being John Malkovich” and won an Emmy for “Death of a Salesman.”
The nominees who did not make the top 10 were Mary Astor, Andre Braugher, Dennis Franz, Rock Hudson, Marlee Matlin, Bernie Mac, Joe Mantegna, Frances McDormand, Laurie Metcalf and Gloria Swanson.
The Illinois Top 200 is a joint initiative of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.
Future categories include athletes, trailblazing women and unforgettable moments. Everyone is invited to suggest possible nominees in each category by using the hashtag #ILtop200 on social media.
The presidential library and museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln’s life and times. Visitors can see ghosts come to life on stage, watch TV coverage of the 1860 Presidential election, roam through the Lincoln White House, experience booming cannons in a Civil War battle and come face to face with priceless original Lincoln artifacts.
The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.
ABOUT ILLINOIS BICENTENNIAL
On Dec. 3, 1818, Illinois became the 21st state in the union. The Illinois Bicentennial is a yearlong celebration of what has been BORN, BUILT & GROWN in the state and a reminder of why we are #IllinoisProud. Citizens are encouraged to participate in the celebration by visiting www.illinois200.com and using the hashtag #IllinoisProud. Partners and event and project managers planning activities in 2018 can apply to become an official part of Illinois Bicentennial by visiting the PARTICIPATE page at www.illinois200.com.