Below is Mark Tapson’s introduction of actor Jon Voight at the Freedom Center dinner honoring Voight, Sheriff Clarke and radio talk show host Larry Elder at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles on March 23, 2017:
Good evening, everyone. I ran into Jon Voight earlier and told him I would be introducing him tonight, and he very humbly said, “Don’t make a big deal out of it.” I’m sorry, sir, but I am going to make a big deal of it because it is my honor tonight to introduce one of the most extraordinarily versatile, successful, and recognizable living actors in Hollywood.
He has played good guys and he’s played bad guys. He’s played cowboys and con men, cops and coal miners, coaches and crooks, fathers and fighters, senators and soldiers, teachers and lawyers – sorry, that was as far as I could go with the alliteration – Nazis and Nazi hunters, vampire hunters and anaconda hunters. He’s even played himself, which is harder for one to do than you might think.
He has played George Washington, Bear Bryant, Howard Cosell, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Pope John Paul II, Abraham, Noah, and gigolo Joe Buck in the X-rated Midnight Cowboy, for which he was nominated for – and should’ve won – a Best Actor Oscar. How many actors can boast that kind of range?
He was also Oscar-nominated for his role in the harrowing movie Deliverance. One of the seats in my hometown movie theater still has the impression of all 10 of my fingernails in the armrests from when I saw Deliverance there as a pre-teen.
He went on to be nominated for Oscars in the movies Runaway Train and Ali, as well as winning or being nominated for uncountable Golden Globes, SAG awards, BAFTAs, Emmys, and Film Critics awards.
He did bring home a Best Actor Oscar for his role as a paraplegic Vietnam vet in Coming Home, which featured a rather eyebrow-raising sex scene that made him a hero to paraplegic men everywhere.
In addition to the movies I mentioned, he has appeared in TV series from Gunsmoke to Seinfeld to 24 to, more recently, an Emmy-nominated role in the Showtime series Ray Donovan.
But perhaps more important and impressive than his career and his boatload of awards and nominations, he is equally notable today for his courageous political stance as an outspoken conservative in the belly of the Hollywood beast.
Since rejecting his youthful antiwar activism, he’s become arguably the most visible and fearless of conservative celebrities, as an open critic of Barack Obama and a passionate public supporter of, for example, George Bush, Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, the U.S. military, Israel, and Donald Trump.
In a town and an industry known for its self-congratulatory, lockstep progressivism, that takes no small measure of personal strength and integrity.
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the talented and courageous Mr. Jon Voight.