35 years ago this week, “Silkwood” was filmed in Howe

It was 35 years ago tomorrow that celebrities and movie cameras were in Downtown Howe.  The movie “Silkwood” debut in 1983 where the film and cast members racked up numerous awards.  ” Silkwood” was nominated for five Oscars and actress Cher won “Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a motion picture.”  Meryl Streep was nominated for “Best Actress in a Leading Role” at the Academy Awards while Cher was nominated for “Best Actress in a Supporting Role.”

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

The following is from The Howe Enterprise, Sept. 9, 1982

For a few hours, Tuesday, Sept. 7, the city of Howe, Texas became the city of Crescent City, Oklahoma for the movie “Silkwood,” which is being filmed partly in Howe.

Tuesday’s filming involved a television interview of Karen Silkwood’s boyfriend as played by actor Kurt Russell.  The filming was done inside the “Crescent Cafe” in a building that once housed a bank in Howe.  (Editor’s note:  This building is now Don’s Smokehouse).  Several people drove cars, walked or rode bicycles through the downtown area while the crew filmed inside the cafe.

Dave Gunn, former garbage truck driver for the city of Howe, got to drive a pickup through town.  He said he enjoyed the change from “garbage truck driver to movie star.”  Other Howe people appearing in the outside scenes were Tommy Wall, Paul Stephens, and Jimmy Brewer.

During the lunch break, Russell signed a few autographs and posed for pictures with local residents.  After lunch, most of the filming was inside the cafe.

More filming in the downtown area is set for early October.  In the meantime, filming on the movie will also take place at a farmhouse near Hwy. 902 four miles east of Howe.

J.E. Poindexter, owner of the farmhouse which will serve as the Silkwood home in the film, said it was built about 50 years ago.  A front porch has been remodeled and a back room has been converted into a screen porch.  Another home has been moved in and a fake house is being constructed at the site so the residence will not appear so isolated in the film.

Filming in the Howe area will take up to five weeks.  Other shooting sites will include Houston, Washington, D.C., and Dallas.   The film will cost about $10 million to produce and ABC Motion Pictures, producer of the film, said it will be released by 20th Century Fox, probably in the fall of 1983.

Other members of the cast include Meryl Streep as Karen Silkwood, Cher as her best friend, Mary Kay Place as a friend, and Craig T. Nelson as a colleague of Ms. Silkwood.

Place is best known for her role on the television series “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.”  Nelson recently appeared as the father in the movie “Poltergeist.”

Karen Silkwood died mysteriously in a 1974 car accident in Oklahoma.  She was reportedly en route to meet with a New York Times reporter and union officials with evidence of unsafe radioactive materials in plutonium fuel rods at Kerr-McGee Nuclear Materials Plant in Crescent City, Oklahoma where she was employed.

The film is being directed by Mike Nichols who won an Academy Award for “The Graduate.”

Above is the town hall scene filmed in Downtown Howe inside what is now Don’s Smokehouse.

The above scene was filmed outside of what is now Don’s Smokehouse in Downtown Howe. Moments later, a tow-truck will drive through downtown showing the current fire station that had been painted to say, “Crescent Fire Dept.”