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updated: 1/20/2012 4:26 PM

Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame announces 2012 class

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  • Delbert Peterson

    Delbert Peterson

  • Dominic Walsh

    Dominic Walsh

  • John Qualen

    John Qualen

  • Gower Champion

    Gower Champion

  • George Grant Elmslie

    George Grant Elmslie
    courtesy William Gray Purcell Papers, University o

  • Carolyn Hove

    Carolyn Hove

  • Annbritt Gemmer duChateau

    Annbritt Gemmer duChateau


Fans of classic Hollywood movies may not know his name, but they've sure seen John Qualen's face. A lot.

The actor developed a career as a character actor from the 1930s through the 1970s, playing in nearly 130 movies. He was the prisoner being saved from Death Row in "His Girl Friday," and the Norwegian resistance fighter in "Casablanca." He became part of director John Ford's stable of actors, including playing the father of the kidnapped girl in the John Wayne movie, "The Searchers."

Qualen, and six other artists from the Fox Valley, will be inducted in April to the Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame, it was announced Friday.

The late actor was nominated by Elgin resident Jeff White, who has been a fan of Qualen's since the 1960s, when he watched old movies on WGN-TV.

"As a kid I just liked John Qualen. I'm a little Swedish," White said, noting Qualen often played roles that called for a Scandinavian accent. When White moved to Elgin, he was amazed to find a display dedicated to Qualen in the Elgin Historical Society.

Qualen, whose real name was Johan Kvalen, was born in 1899, grew up in Elgin and graduated from Elgin High in 1920.

Showbiz is represented with another inductee: Geneva native Gower Champion.

The legendary dancer and choreographer was born there in 1919. He moved as a child to Hollywood, and starred with his wife, Marge, in the movie version of "Show Boat" and their own television show. As Hollywood musicals tapered off, he turned to choreographing Broadway shows, including "Bye Bye Birdie" and "Hello Dolly!" In 1980, he choreographed and directed "42nd Street," but died of cancer hours before the show opened. He was posthumously awarded a Tony for his work.

Other nominees include:

• Annbritt Gemmer duChateau, a musical theater conductor. She was born in Aurora in 1965 and graduated from West Aurora High School. She is currently conducting "Billy Elliot" on Broadway. She opened the showing of "Mary Poppins" in Chicago in 2009, and has recorded the music for revivals of "Kiss Me Kate" and "Into the Woods."

• George Grant Elmslie, architect. Elmslie, born in 1871, emigrated to Chicago in 1884. He is known for his work with Frank Lloyd Wright. In another partnership, he designed five buildings in Aurora, including the Old Second National Bank building, the Keystone building and the Healy Chapel.

• Carolyn Hove, soloist on English horn. Hove, born in Elgin in 1958, has been the soloist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra since 1988.

• Delbert Peterson, artist. Peterson, born in 1926, graduated from East Aurora High School in 1944. He worked for nine years as an industrial artist, then opened a commercial art studio in Batavia. In the 1950s, he began devoting himself exclusively to fine arts, and has won national awards.

• Dominic Walsh, dancer and choreographer. Walsh, born in West Dundee in 1971, is founder of the Dominic Walsh Dance Theatre. He was a principal dancer with the Houston Ballet for more than a decade.

The induction ceremony is April 19 at Pipers Banquets in Aurora. For ticket information, visit

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