May 17, 2010

Remembering Richard Kremen, a cowboy from Racine

The life of Richard Kremen will be remembered here on Friday, May 21, at 1:30 at West Lawn Cemetery in a chapel ceremony.

Kremen's spirit "rode off into the sunset" (in the words of his daughter, Sandee Fischlin) on March 16, in Tucson, AZ. Although he lived in Racine for 49 years, Kremen is best known for the work he did after he took early retirement from Webster Electric, after 33 years, and moved with his wife, Norma, to Tucson, when her company relocated there. But we'll let Sandee tell his story:
Little did he know that he was about to become a legend in his own time when he accepted a position working for the legendary Old Tucson Film Studios.  In more than 10 years in the late '70s and '80s with the company he was involved with security and worked with all the film companies that used the studio  for making movies as well as the TV series Little House On The Prairie, Father Murphy and The Young Riders

In these TV series, he worked regularly alongside Michael Landon and Merlin Olsen. The Young Riders TV series, about the pony express, ran for two years, starring Steven Baldwin and Josh Brolin; his grandson, Jamie Metz, appeared in many episodes.
With Ben Johnson
in The Sacketts
Richard had the pleasure of working with Robert Conrad, Ross Martin and Jonathan Winters when they filmed Wild, Wild West at the studio and also shot scenes behind his home in Tucson on location.  He worked on many films, such as: The Gambler with Kenny Rogers, Poker Alice with Elizabeth Taylor, Cannonball Run with Burt Reynolds, Three Amigos with Chevy Chase, Steve Martin and Martin Short, Tombstone with Kurt Russell, The Villain starring Ann-Margret, Kirk Douglas and Arnold Schwarzenegger -- and even his daughter,  Sandee (Kremen) Fischlin.

Because of his unique western appearance and personality he was cast in a couple of commercials and a documentary at Old Tucson. But the most fun and notoriety he had was being cast with Tom Selleck, Glenn Ford, Sam Elliott, Ben Johnson, Gilbert Roland, Jack Elam, Slim Pickens and Mercedes McCambridge in a western miniseries filmed for NBC called The Sacketts. It was an epic saga based on two of the novels by western author  Louis L'Amour.

Old Tucson Studios was legendary with film stars such as John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Dean Martin, William Holden and many more too numerous to mention; over 500 movies were shot there, along with many TV series.

Richard Kremen was fortunate to also have been part of the legend of the Old West as he walked the dirt streets where many legendary movie stars did.  He told me that if you listen hard on a still, dark night, you can hear voices yell "action," and see the shadows of some of Hollywood's biggest stars walking the boardwalks along Front Street.  Old Tucson is not only a historical town but also a place that helped form the legend of the Wild West.  His daughter Sandee Fischlin still lives in Tucson and  remains good friends with Bob Shelton, the founder of Old Tucson Studios.
Richard also had a well-known Alaskan artist son, Gary Kremen, who died in 2001. A Horlick High graduate, Gary was most noted for his 62-ft. continuous oil painting, A Tribute to Prince William Sound, painted after the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989. The painting toured the U.S. for two years and was displayed in Racine at Memorial Hall in 2005.

Grandson Jamie Metz, who returned to Racine over a year ago, participated in Downtown's Sunny & Chair event last summer; his chair took third place in the live auction, raising $1,600.  Jamie has gained his own notoriety with the large-scale mural he painted for a pest control company on one of the busiest streets in Tucson. The mural encompassed the entire building.

Although Richard's spirit has since ridden off into the sunset, he will be remembered on May 21 at 1:30 at West Lawn Cemetery in a chapel ceremony as his life is celebrated with family and friends: Son Richard Kremen (Lenore); daughter Sandee Fischlin (David Hansen); grandchildren Jamie and Ryan Metz; daughter Brenda Cook(Steve); sisters Dorothy Mazzie and Ella Carriello and brother Bruno Kremen.

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