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Remembering 'the gentle, humble actor From Malvern' | People

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Remembering 'the gentle, humble actor From Malvern'
Remembering 'the gentle, humble actor From Malvern'

For more than 20 years, Rick Dial was known as the "Voice of the Malvern Leopards." Locals remember him as the public address announcer for the Malvern Leopard Football Stadium and the basketball field house.

But Rick attracted national attention as an actor, working with Arkansas filmmakers such as Harry Thomason and Billy Bob Thornton, as well as Hollywood regulars Robert Duvall, John Travolta, Jeff Bridges and more.

I had the pleasure of working with Rick Dial in 1996 on the movie set of "Sling Blade." I worked in the wardrobe department, and one of my main responsibilities was to spray Rick with water before cameras rolled, giving his character a "sweaty" appearance. He never knew my real name - just knew me as "Sweat Girl." As I took my job seriously, I was determined that my sweat continuity was going to be perfect for each scene, and this always made him chuckle. He would be in mid-conversation, see me coming and just lift his arms and let me do my thing.

He was always a gentlemen with a humble, sweet grin. In 2006, I helped produce a movie called "Where's My Close-Up, Mr. Thornton?" and we wanted some of our Slingblade alumni to participate. I called Rick up and said, "This is Theba from 'Sling Blade." When it became clear that he didn't remember me, I reintroduced myself as "Sweat Girl". He laughed as he remembered and graciously agreed to be in our movie.

Through the years I would see him pop up here and there on the big screen and smile big knowing he was doing what he loved to do, and realizing others were getting the pleasure of  knowing my friend, the gentle humble actor from Malvern.

Rick passed away on May 27. He is survived by his wife and three children.

Public memorial service will be at Malvern's First Baptist Church at 1 pm on Wednesday, June1.