Danville and Vermilion County can boast of a fabulous roster of entertainers who once called this area home. And local officials should consider doing even more boasting.
Dick Van Dyke, Jerry Van Dyke and Gene Hackman all consider Danville their home town. The three have won numerous awards for their acting — a Tony, Emmys and an Academy Award. They, along with the late singers Bobby Short and Helen Morgan, and actors Donald O’Connor and James Wainwright, create a legacy within the community few other cities of similar size can begin to match.
The Vermilion County Museum and Vermilion Heritage Foundation both honor these famous sons and daughters with information and displays at their respective sites, and District 118 named its high school auditorium — where many of tomorrow’s entertainers still experience their first thrill of performing before a large audience — after Dick Van Dyke. The school’s Wall of Fame also includes them all.
Yet, unless visitors know where to go to find these tributes, they likely would pass through the community without a thought to stopping.
With governmental budgets so tight, its possible the area’s civic and service groups could mount a campaign to develop signs or other types of recognition for these famous sons and daughters at the entries into Danville or along Interstate 74.
The additional recognition certainly is deserved by those who went on to fame and fortune from Danville, but still return to their roots from time to time. And such a campaign might entice more visitors to stop and learn more about our community and what it has to offer.
During the years, these stars did not forget where they started. Their gifts — both professionally on stage, screen and record, and personal contributions many of them made — should be forgotten, either.