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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In loving memory of Jim Hutchison



Biography for Jim Hutchison (I) More at IMDbPro »


I met Jim on the board of directors of the Screen Actors Guild. We became friends and he was a strong mentor for me. 

My strongest memory was at "Ditkas'" in Chicago where the staff are all actors/singers or dancers. He was challenged as "old man' by a waiter and Jim took him on. Jim jumped up on the table and began to out dance the entire staff. The restaurant-bar went to a standstill as Chicago locals and tourist alike began to take photos and video and wondered "who is this old guy?"

He respected me for who I am, and for my professionalism and work for all actors, including those in Nevada who sent me to the board. He treated me as an equal, while I respected his career in film and on Broadway.

He told me about his time on the set of "Finnian's Rainbow", the "smelliest" set he ever worked on, because the director wanted every hint of dirt to remain as is for the entire enclosed shoot.

When the movie "Wallie" came out his grandson called him and said "you are in 'Wallee"! They used footage of Jim dancing with Tommy Tune in "Hello Dolly" without getting his permission. It proved to be Jim's last film ("Walee" not "Hello Dolly") as we lost him to cancer,

Thanks to Mary Mac and others, Jim's dancing shoes are bronzed and on display in the SAG Foundation room in LA, a tribute to the years he spent on the board of the Foundation and his passion for young performers everywhere.

-Art Lynch


The SAG Foundation is grateful to have made a friend in Jim Hutchison, who lost his battle with cancer in April. A Foundation Board member, Jim was a long-time resident of Hawaii whose colorful and accomplished career as a dancer and actor brought him to Broadway (in Pajama Game, among other hits), television (working with the likes of Gene Kelly, Ed Sullivan and Perry Como), films (including Finian’s Rainbow and Thoroughly Modern Millie) and even Cuba, appearing at the Havana Riviera for eight weeks just prior to the Castro regime. Becoming a major force in Hawaii’s dance world, Jim directed, choreographed and performed with Diamond Head Theatre and taught at the University of Hawaii . A family man, Jim demonstrated great caring in life as well as in art. We will miss him greatly.

Branch President’s Message


A note about Jim Hutchison. Our National Board member and SAG Foundation board member of many years died on April 16 after a bout with cancer. He and I were very close friends and colleagues for 40 years, and I miss him deeply. He fought to the end against the scourge that finally took him. After his death, a celebration of his life was held at Diamond Head Theater, where he had been artistic director for 17 years until the mid-1990s. The SAG National Board gave him a standing ovation marking all the work Jim had done for the union, and a special commemorative niche has been created at the SAG Foundation in his honor, which will include a bronzed pair of his dance shoes. He was a renaissance theater man: actor, director, dancer and choreographer. And of course, a fellow SAG member.

Glenn Cannon,
President


Remembering Jim Hutchison

By Becky Maltby
At the first board meeting after Jim Hutchison died, we had a moment of silence. We kept his chair, the usual place where he sat in the boardroom, empty. But we felt his presence from so many meetings past—his smile lighting up the room, his laughter, the way he’d engage us all with his articulate reports of a National Board meeting in L.A. from which he’d just returned. The room felt odd. I gazed at Jim’s empty chair and half expected to see him come bounding in, pour some coffee and grin at us all sitting there looking glum.

I first knew Jim as the artistic director at Honolulu Community Theatre (now Diamond Head Theatre). Auditioning for him was like performing for your daddy in the living room—you could do no wrong. He’d smile, nod his head in time to the music and make you feel so good you were sure you’d be cast on the spot. Sometimes, however, he’d neglect to let you know. When he cast me in Pal Joey in 1985, I went to the theatre only to find out the cast had already been in rehearsal for a couple of weeks. “Where have you been?” people asked, “Jim’s been saying all along that you had the part.” Well he never told me!

It was such a “Jim” thing to do. So I had to play catch up, but I didn’t mind. He could be absent-minded, blunt, and temperamental, but as his son Kurt reported at Jim’s celebration of life ceremony, even his enemies liked him. It was hard not to like Jim Hutchison.

Serving on the local board of Screen Actors Guild with Jim was an honor. He worked so hard to fight for actors’ rights, as the ovations and dedications from our union demonstrate. President Alan Rosenberg mentioned Jim in a recent letter to us all, mourning his loss along with colleagues Michael Jackson, David Carradine, Karl Malden, Natasha Richardson, Farrah Fawcett….  Jim Hutchison may not have been quite as famous, but clearly his presence made just as much of an impact. The ovations continue, but the show must go on.

Aloha, Jim; we’ll miss you.

His bio on IMDB (very incomplete as he had much of it removed, as did many actors, back in the pre-Amazon days when they allowed that)...


Date of Birth
19 January 1934England, Arkansas, USA

Date of Death
16 April 2009, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Birth Name
James Lo Hutchison

Spouse
Wisa D Orso'(? - ?) (divorced) 2 children


Trivia
Later moved to Honolulu where he led the Honolulu City Ballet and served as artistic director for the Honolulu Community Theater.
Was featured as a dancer in the film Time Piece (1965), performed as a dancer on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and "The Jackie Gleason Show," and later served as a choreographer.
Eventually moved to New York and performed on the musical stage in productions of "Kean," "Happy Hunting," "The Ziegfeld Follies" and "The Pajama Game".

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