Emmett Evan "Van" Heflin, Jr. (December 13, 1908 – July 23, 1971) was an Academy Award-winning American film and theater actor.
Heflin was born in Walters, Oklahoma
, the son of Fannie B. and Dr. Emmett E. Heflin, a dentist
. He was of Irish
ancestry. Heflin's sister was Daytime Emmy
-nominated actress Frances Heflin
. Heflin attended the University of Oklahoma
, where he was a member of Phi Delta Theta
Heflin began his acting career on Broadway
in the early 1930s before being signed to a contract by RKO Radio Pictures
. He made his film debut in A Woman Rebels
(1936). He was signed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
, and was initially cast in supporting roles in films such as Santa Fe Trail
(1940), and Johnny Eager
(1942), winning an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor
for the latter performance.
MGM began to groom him as a leading man in B movies, and provided him with supporting roles in more prestigious productions. Among his more notable film credits are Presenting Lily Mars (1943), The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946), Possessed (1947), Green Dolphin Street (1947), Act of Violence (1948), The Three Musketeers (1948), The Prowler (1951), Shane (1953), and 10 to Yuma (1957). He also performed on stage throughout his acting career. His stage credits include The Philadelphia Story on Broadway opposite Katharine Hepburn and Joseph Cotten, and the Arthur Miller plays A Memory of Two Mondays and " "A View From the Bridge".
Heflin's last major role was in Airport (1970). He played "D. O. Guerrero", a failure who attempts to blow himself up on an airliner so his wife (played by Maureen Stapleton) can collect on a life insurance policy.
He has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, for his contributions to motion pictures at 6309 Hollywood Boulevard, and for television at 6125 Hollywood Boulevard.
On July 6
, Heflin had a heart attack
. He lay unconscious for days, apparently never regaining consciousness. Van Heflin died at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital
on July 23
. He had left instructions forbidding a public funeral. Instead, his cremated
remains were scattered on the ocean. (Heflin was a sailor before becoming an actor).