Actor Val Kilmer now ‘Dr. Kilmer,’ thanks to William Woods University

The man who portrayed
Doc Holliday is now Dr. Kilmer, a
title bestowed on him with the honorary degree he received May 5 from William
Woods University. Kilmer was the speaker for the school’s 142nd
commencement.

Doc Holliday was a gambler, gunfighter
and dentist
of the Old West, known for his friendship with Wyatt Earp.
Val Kilmer, who played
Holliday in the 1993
movie, “Tombstone,” joked during his speech to the graduates that, “Maybe
they liked Doc Holliday so much they wanted me to be Doc Kilmer.”
 
Kilmer came to William Woods University at the invitation of
WWU president, Dr. Jahnae H.
Barnett, and her husband,
Eddie, who is a friend
of the actor. Barnett
has stated that her “personal
favorite” of Kilmer’s movie roles is indeed Doc Holliday.
 
The faculty voted to present an Honorary
Doctorate of Fine Arts to Kilmer in recognition of his creative abilities and his contributions
to art and theater.
 
One of the most prolific actors of his
generation, Kilmer’s memorable roles include Batman in “Batman Forever,” Jim Morrison in Oliver
Stone’s “The Doors” and Simon Templar in “The Saint.” He has
worked with many of film’s most respected directors and actors.
Kilmer’s latest project is a film that focuses
attention on two important people from the
19th century, Mark
Twain and Mary Baker Eddy. Starring as Mark Twain in the movie, Kilmer
also wrote the screenplay. He currently is performing on stage in a play he
wrote called “Citizen Twain.”
                                                          
While at William Woods University, Kilmer was
transformed by makeup,
clothing, words and actions into a realistic
likeness of Missouri’s
homegrown author and
humorist, Mark Twain. Kilmer performed “Citizen Twain,”
to a sold-out crowd in historic Dulany
Auditorium May 1.

Kilmer also did a question and answer session with
students and posed for pictures at a dinner in his honor.
Townspeople reported spotting him shopping in local book and
antique stores.

Many were surprised when Kilmer chose to spend a
week in Fulton, Mo.,
a town of about
12,000 in mid-Missouri.
However, he wasn’t the only celebrity to visit William Woods over the years.

Others have included actors William Shatner and
Mike Farrell, best-selling author Rita Mae
Brown, “Mr. Las Vegas” Wayne
Newton and Boston Pops
Orchestra conductor John Williams.

Perhaps the most famous person to serve as commencement speaker was
Ronald Reagan, who was president of the
Screen Actors Guild when he addressed the graduates 50 years ago. His speech
offered a glimpse of world events as seen through
the eyes of a man who would one day
become President of the
United States.
                                                          
CUTLINE:
Val Kilmer smiles
to his fans before addressing graduates during the William Woods University
commencement.
 
Dale LaRue (left) and Dan
Westhues, both members of the WWU Board of Trustees,
place the doctoral hood over Val
Kilmer’s shoulders.