Happy birthday to the man behind LT Tom “Iceman” Kazansky, Nick Rivers, Elvis Presley, Batman, The Stranger, and Mark Twain, amongst many others. Val Kilmer is a popular American actor who rose to fame in the mid-1980s. He starred in “Top Secret!” “Real Genius,” and “Top Gun” to start off his career.
He has played anything from a Cold War agent in “Top Secret!” to a science prodigy in “Real Genius” to a hardcore fighter pilot in “Top Gun” to a bank robber with love problems in “Heat” to a wannabe Sherlock Holmes in “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.”
The actor is turning 61 today.
In April, Kilmer released his memoir, “I’m Your Huckleberry: A Memoir.” In it, the actor shares stories about his roles, his love life, and his recent struggles with his health.
Key Parts of his Memoir
Val Kilmer’s romantic affairs buzzed throughout the industry. He was quick to fall and even quicker to run.
He was with Cindy Crawford, Carly Simon, Angelina Jolie, and Daryl Hannah.
“Lord knows I’ve suffered heartache. But Daryl was by far the most painful … I know I would love her with my whole heart forever and that love has lost none of its strength. I am still in love with Daryl,” Kilmer writes.
He didn’t have a girlfriend for 15 years after the tragic separation. Despite his desire for love, he refused to meet popular singer, Cher. Eventually, the two met, rode on his Harley, and became good friends after being on and off again for a bit.
Even years later, the two remained friends. During a day together, she was there for one of Vilmer’s scariest moments.
In 2015, Kilmer was diagnosed with throat cancer after throwing up blood everywhere while with Cher.
She called him an ambulance and stood by his side mostly while, “We laughed out loud before they finished my vitals and shut me up with an oxygen mask,” Kilmer wrote.
Val Kilmer as a Leading Western Man
One of Kilmer’s biggest hit films was “Tombstone,” released in 1993.
The film grossed over $56 million and in True West Magazine was called “one of the 5 greatest Westerns ever made,” according to Country Rebel.
The story follows Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. In a traditional Western sense, it leads to a dramatic Earps versus cowboys shootout. It starred Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Sam Elliot, and Bill Paxton.
The classic Western film has romance, outlaws, violence, and a vengeful ending. His famous line and future memoir title, “I’m Your Huckleberry” come from this film.
Other Key Films
Besides his roles as a Westerner in “Tombstone” and a pilot in “Top Gun,” Vilmer had his fair share of critically acclaimed films.
His role in “Heat,” a modern-day film noir, was more of a supporting role. This was the first film in which Robert De Niro and Al Pacino appeared together. Kilmer is with Ashley Judd’s character in the film.
Kilmer prepares for his roles in ways other actors don’t consider. His role in “The Doors” was no different. Here he starred as Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors. He did not break character for a second, making people question if the role was taken too far.
He sang The Door’s songs with the remaining members.
In “The Ghost and the Darkness,” Kilmer plays the intense role of a big game hunter. The story follows two predator lions who end up terrorizing a group working on a Kenyan bridge. Kilmer plays the bridge engineer. This is one of his most dramatic roles to date. In one scene, he even fights one of the big cats in an epic one-on-one fistfight.
It’s an epic take on films like “Jaws” or even “Jurassic Park.”
Without his kids, it’s likely that Kilmer’s throat cancer could have possibly taken a lot more than just his voice.
It’s likely it would have taken his life too.
His two kids, Jack and Mercedes, convinced him to seek traditional cancer treatment.
According to an interview with The New York Times, Vilmer is a Christian Scientist. Kilmer believed that he would find the cure to his cancer through his practitioner, or spiritual adviser. He would essentially pray his fear away so his body would “manifest outwardly what can be diagnosed as a malady.”
He claims that his tracheostomy tube and feeding tube is the result of chemotherapy and radiation, not cancer.
The actor is also known for some strange behavior on set that would eventually alienate him from the business. He was accused of touching a lit cigarette to a crew member on “Batman Forever” and was described as “psychotic.” Everything he did was part of his role or was to “motivate” those around him.