Ellington on CD
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Did Ellington attend
the Cannes Film Festival
in 1965 or earlier?
The Duke – Where and When
A Chronicle of Duke Ellington's Working Life and Travels
Since "The Duke - Where and When" is very large, I moved some material to supporting webpages. This one is about a possible visit to the Cannes Film Festival in the early 1960s. |
This webpage was created and is maintained by David Palmquist,
with considerable input from fellow researchers
Three stories in Beckley, W.Va., newspapers in 1965 suggest Ellington received an award for the soundtrack of a film at the Cannes Film Festival in France. If it is true, it may have been in May 1963, when Ellington could have made a side-trip to the Cannes Film Festival en route to the tour of U.S. bases in Germany. It is by no means certain that he wrote or performed the music, nor that he won an award at Cannes.
- The Raleigh Register 1965-03-31 had a picture of Ellington and actor Keith Lawson, captioned:
'International movie actor, Keith Lawson, who is from Princewick, West Virginia, is shown above with famed orchestra leader, Duke Ellington, backstage during the awards presentations of the Cannes Film Festival. Actor Lawson was honored for "Best Performance by an Actor" for his role in DOGWOOD WINTER, a French film. Duke Ellington, composer of the music soundtrack for DOGWOOD WINTER also received a top award. Many Princewick area groups and organizations have sent congratulatory messages to Lawson, including the Governor. '(Dogwood winter is an American expression meaning a short cold snap when dogwoods bloom in the spring.)
- The Beckley Post-Herald and Raleigh Register ran similar stories several weeks earlier, 1965-02-23 , with the Post-Herald saying in part:
'...Lawson was honored recently by screen critics of Europe for his performance in the French film "Dogwood Winter" at the Cannes Film Festival.
Duke Ellington wrote and played the music in Lawson's movie and Ellington won the award for best music score...'
If Ellington went to this festival in Cannes or received an award for the music for this film, when?
- The photo was not taken at the 1965 Cannes Film Festival, which ran May 3 to May 16.
- There was no festival in 1950, and Ellington was not in Europe from 1951 to late 1958. The 1958 and 1959 European tours were too late for the 1958 and 1959 Cannes festivals respectively (1958 05 02 - 1958 05 18 and 1959 04 30 - 1959 05 18). During the 1960 festival (1960 05 04 - 1960 05 20), our heroes were in Las Vegas.
- Ellington was in Europe in 1961 but returned to the U.S.A. before that year's festival (1961 05 03 - 1961 05 18). He had surgery in May 1962 and while he was discharged from hospital May 19, he appears to have convalesced at home until May 26, ruling out a trip to Cannes during the festival that year (1962 05 17 - 1962 05 23). During the 1964 festival, Ellington and the orchestra were on the U.S. east coast, the midwest and in Bermuda.
- That leaves the 1963 Cannes Film Festival to consider. It ran 1963 05 09 - 1963 05 23. Ellington may have made a sidetrip to Cannes upon his arrival in Europe for the tour of U.S. military bases in Germany.
- As at the time of writing, searching Google and three paid newspaper archives turns up no mention of a film by that name nor of Ellington going to Cannes in 1963, nor do online lists of Cannes Film Festival winners and entrants show a film called Dogwood Winter, or a winner named Keith Lawson. Smithsonian Instute volunteer C. Windheuser has searched the microfilmed Duke Ellington Scrapbooks for 1963 and can no mention of this either.
Who was Wallace Keith Lawson?
- Lawson was mentioned often in the Beckley, W.Virginia newspapers in the 1960s and 1970s, usually coinciding with his trips home to visit his mother:
- 1962-06-17 - Airman 1C Keith Lawson - travels with theatrical groups giving performances ranging from leading man to walkons, or giving judo demonstrations - member of England's Theatre Players and The Beeches - studied dramatics for three consecutive years - one of Broadway Institute of Drama and Elcoution Inc.'s most promising students - Air Force job is chief judo instructor - taught judo for past 3 years at RAF Fairlord (SAC installation), has first degree black belt, known as Wally. Instructs English and American boy scouts in his spare time; commended by the National Sports Council.
- 1964-05-04 - Wallace Keith Lawson, lived in Boise, Idaho the past 18 months, teaching judo and karate and active in community theatre - leaving for Europe for a movie making stint with French actor Jean Latolis - may be gone a year. Left school at 15 to spend 3 years in a circus, joined the army in 1946. Served in France and Germany and was an MP during the Berlin Airlift. Returned to the circus after discharge, was injured in a tightrope fall, enlisted in the USAF in 1954, became expert in judo and karate, currently has first degree black belt in judo, taught judo for three years at a SAC base in England - trained English boy scouts in judo - during his military career was associated with a number of service shows and theatrical presentations. Won a part in the English movie "The Third Man" starring James Mason (note neither Mason nor Lawson are listed by IMBD in IMDB "Cast (in credits order) verified as complete" for the 1949 film The Third Man, but Mason did record an audio book by that name.)
- 1965-02-23 - honoured recently by screen critics in Europe for his performance in Dogwood Winter - Ellington wrote and played its music.
- 1965-03-31 - winner of "Best Performance by and actor" at Cannes, pictured with Duke "backstage."
- 1965-06-15 - International movie and stage personalty Keith Lawson currently working on French film Le Gendarme de New York in France. (Lawson is not listed in the cast by IMBD
- 1966-08-17 - completed filming "Carousel" in Libya
- 1969-02-12 - story about Airman First Class or Master Sergeant Wallace K. Lawson, retired twice by the USAF after 20 years service - accompanying photo captioned "Keith Lawson."
- 1970-12-21 - Keith Wilson of Hollywood home to visit his family.
- 1970-12-21 - Appears to say he has enrolled in a Falcon Studios acting course on the G.I.bill.
- 1974-06-10 - Discusses "The U.S. Army" with students at Princewick Elementary School. Had a seven-year career as a postal inpector with the U.S. Armed Forces.
- 1973-03-02 - Obituary, mentions Air Force service in World War II, Korean conflict and Vietnam. Survivors included his mother Millie Mustafo, sisters and step-siblings.
- Beckley Post-Herald:
- 1962-07-18 - "chief judo instructor at the Strategic Air Command installation in Fairford, England."
- 1963-02-11 - judo instructor for US Air Force and an actor on the side - recently on CBS-TV's Bonnie Wallace Show - currently president of Mountain Home Air Force Base Players.
- 1964-12-06 - Princewick native who became an internatioal movie star - recently taped the Keith Lawson Christmas Special at the Olympia Theatre in Paris, to be telecast in Europe during the coming holiday season - member of the Armed Forces Writer's League and Overseas Actors - pictured with Jacques Breal and the Delta Rhythm Boys.
- 1965-06-19 - recently completed his role in "Dogwood Winter" in Paris.
- 1967-07-04 - residing in Chicago, home for a visit.
- 1971-01-04 - chose Falcon Studios tuition.
- 1971-04-25 - visiting mother again, has completed 1,000 hours training at Falcon Studios, receiving instruction in drama, dancing, singing, fencing and acrobatics.
- 1974-06-10 - pictured speaking with elementary principal and pupil about the U.S. Army career - had spent 7 years as U.S. Armed Forces postal inspector. The photo is not clear enough to establish this is the same Keith Wilson but the story identifies his mother as Millie Mustafo.
- 1973-03-02 - Obituary, military service as outlined in the Raleigh Register obit, plus tours of duty in France and Germany and service as an M.P. during the Berlin Airlift. Joined circus at age 15 for three years, held third degree black belt in judo, performed in the films "The Third Man" and "The Legend of Christian County."
- The 1963 Cannes Film Festival was May 9 through 23. Duke was in Europe from January 9 to March 15 1963 and again for a tour of U. S. military bases in Germany beginning May 23. He was in New York on May 20 1963 and possibly in New Jersey May 21 for a Paul Gonsalves session, so if he went to the Cannes festival in 1963, it can only have been at its very end, May 21, 22 or 23.