The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

January 27, 2013

Recognize famous natives


DANVILLE — One of Danville’s famous sons — Dick Van Dyke — will walk across a Los Angeles stage tonight to receive the Life Achievement Award from the Screen Actor’s Guild.

It is but the latest honor during a career that began as a radio announcer at WDAN Radio in Danville and has included Tony, Emmy and Grammy awards.

Through it all, Van Dyke has remembered his roots in Danville and speaks of them with affection.

Visitors to the community, however, might not know the city can lay claim to Van Dyke, his Emmy winning brother Jerry, Oscar winner Gene Hackman, the late Grammy nominated Bobby Short, the late Golden Globe and Emmy winner Donald O’Connor and others.

There’s a Wall of Honor at Danville High School, but access to that by visitors is limited.

The Fischer Theatre recently opened a museum in honor of these entertainment heavyweights, and the Walldogs painted a mural featuring the stars near the theater a few years ago.

Still, there seems to be a lack of recognition to these incredible entertainers who called Danville their home. Even a sign at the entrances to the city directing visitors to the Fischer’s museum or highlighting the names would be nice to see.

For a community the size of Danville to provide the wealth of talent represented by the list of names truly is an amazing thing. And the list includes more than entertainers. There are scientists, business people and humanitarians.

Maybe it’s time for local organizations to come together and come up with a suitable tribute to let everyone know the community’s pride in their work.

For tonight, however, don’t miss the moment when Dick Van Dyke receives the award he so richly deserves.