William Woods University Student Meet Actor Val Kilmer

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Liza Payne with Val Kilmer

FULTON, MO (05/22/2012)(readMedia)-- William Woods University students had the opportunity to meet actor Val Kilmer when he spent a week on their campus. One of these students was Liza Payne of Zionsville, Ind., who served as a host at a dinner in Kilmer's honor.

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.