When Geena Davis receives an honorary Oscar later this year, will she remember that Baltimore, kinda, was where her career really launched?
Davis was only 32, with a handful of screen and TV credits to her name (including the girlfriend of a fly in “The Fly” and an imperiled tennis player in TV’s “Remington Steele”), when she arrived in Baltimore in January 1988 to film “The Accidental Tourist.” Based on Baltimorean Anne Tyler’s novel about a travel writer coming to terms with the death of his son and the breakdown of his marriage, the movie starred Davis as a quirky dog walker who helps drag the main character (played by William Hurt) out of his emotional stupor. Released that December, the film earned Davis tremendous reviews and a Supporting Actress Oscar.
“Geena Davis was really friendly,” remembers Harold Davidov, co-owner of Roland Park’s Tuxedo Pharmacy, a neighborhood institution for more than 80 years (he and his brother, Arnold, closed it earlier this year) that served as a movie set for one day. “She was in the store, she was hanging out between takes. I remember her as being the most approachable member of the cast.”
Thirty years later, on the heels of memorable roles in such movies as “Thelma & Louise” and “A League of Their Own” and a stand-up second career as a women’s-rights and gender-equality activist, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced June 3 that Davis would receive its Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award during a ceremony in October.
It’s doubtful Baltimore will play a prominent role in Davis’s acceptance speech. But maybe she could carve out a second or two for a shout-out to the city that got her career going?