Lights, Camera, Cue Defiance County

Hollywood and Defiance County go way back – that may be why the county gets a lot of love from those bright lights.

The Ryan family donated the movie posters for "The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio" to the Tuttle Museum. The film follows the story of Evelyn Ryan and her family, who lived in Defiance. The movie, which starred Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, was based on Terry Ryan's book. Terry Ryan served as a consultant on the film.

From movies to real life, Defiance County has been seen and mentioned in TV and films. Hollywood, itself, has deep roots in Defiance County. Daeida H.W. Wilcox Beveridge, who was born in Hicksville in 1862, helped developed the suburb of Los Angeles known as Hollywood in 1887.

She and her husband, H.H. Wilcox, were instrumental in establishing much of the civic infrastructure and commercial district of Hollywood. A historical marker to Beveridge is located on High Street in Hicksville.


Sometimes Hollywood comes home to Defiance County. Hicksville and Defiance City both have been mentioned on television and movies throughout the years. Hicksville even was used as a filming location briefly for the movie “American Reel” in 2003. The movie, which starred David Carradine, mostly was filmed in Fort Wayne but did feature shots from Hicksville. The village briefly has been mentioned in a few movies, some of which are set in Defiance County. Hicksville was one of three Ohio locations shown on a map in the 1985 film “Follow That Bird” as well. It also has had a few celebrity visitors that have come to the Huber Opera House and Civic Center such as Mickey Rooney. Hicksville also was the site of a political visit by Jerry Springer in 2008 when he was running for U.S. Senate. Defiance City has native actors and has had movies based in the city. It also has been a key point in some television shows – so much so that a top Google question was “is Defiance, Ohio, a real place?”


Kirstie Mack, executive director of the Defiance Development and Visitors Bureau (DDVB), said it’s very exciting for the community to be featured in TV and films. “As a community, when you watch a TV show or movie and Defiance is mentioned, you feel pride,” she said. “In circumstances it has come up on ‘Jeopardy.’ It’s shown up on ‘Scandal.’ People ask ‘is that your community?’ You have to answer ‘yes, but it doesn’t look like this (what is being shown).’ It’s fun to talk about.” ABC’s “Scandal” featured Defiance heavily for a few seasons. The political thriller had what was referred to as the “Defiance conspiracy” where it was found that voting machines in Defiance County were rigged to give votes to a certain candidate. Defiance also was mentioned in “Glee.” The show choir, the Unitards, were from the city on the FOX network show.


There have been several nods to Defiance in films – from the subtle Defiance Bulldogs sweatshirt in Joaquin Phoenix’s “I’m Still Here” to films being set in the city. In 2005, the film ”The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio,” was released. It was based on the book by Terry Ryan and chronicled the life of her mother, Evelyn, as she raised their family in Defiance. Terry Ryan was a consultant on the film, which used clothing actually worn by family members. The movie starred Julianne Moore, Woody Harrelson and Laura Dern.

This jacket was made by RCA Gifts and Promotions in Los Angeles to help promote the 1996 film "House Arrest," which takes place in Defiance. The jacket and other "House Arrest" memorabilia was donated to the Tuttle Museum from the public library and Defiance College.

The 1996 film “House Arrest” also was set in Defiance. It starred Jennifer Love Hewitt, Kyle Howard, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jennifer Tally and Kevin Pollack. Mack said that while the movies were based here, no filming was done on site. Some memorabilia including movie posters and clothing from “Prize Winner” and “House Arrest” are at the city’s Andrew L. Tuttle Memorial Museum. “Defiance has connections all over the United States. Hollywood is just one aspect,” said museum curator Herman Dally.


“House Arrest” has another connection to Defiance.

The "House Arrest" movie poster showcases its actors including Jennifer Love Hewitt, Jennifer Tilly, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Pollack and others. The screenplay was written by Defiance native Michael Hitchcock, who also acts in the film.

The movie was written by a Defiance-born actor, writer and producer – Michael Hitchcock. He was a co-executive producer and writer for several TV shows including “Glee,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” and “MAD TV.” He has written for the movies “Where the Day Takes You,” “House Arrest” and “The Ultimate Christmas Present.” His acting credits include several TV shows and movies such as: “For Your Consideration,” “Bridesmaids” “Wild Hogs” “Space Force,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Goldbergs,” “Arrested Development” and more.


Hitchcock isn’t the only actor from Defiance.

Michelle Burke is an actress, playing roles in various movies and television series. She is best known as Jodi in “Dazed and Confused” and as Connie Conehead in Coneheads.” She also has starred in “Major League II,” “2nd Change for Christmas” “Captors” and more. Her small screen credits include “Little Men,” “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” “The Division,” “Diagnosis Murder” and others.

Defiance also has been visited by a real Hollywood legend – Bob Hope.

While the Hollywood icon was not from Defiance, he did come to the city in 1967. His son, Anthony Jude Hope, married Judith Coleman Richards on Dec. 2, 1967, at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. Bob Hope attended the wedding. The comedian even joked prior to the ceremony that he wasn’t wearing his suspenders. “This could be the greatest thing since the last Laurel and Hardy movie,” he quipped to area newsmen at the time.

Hope may have come through Defiance earlier. His brother, Sid, lived in Ridgeville Corners. In the book “Bob Hope: A LIfe in Comedy” by William Robert Faith, details that Hope and his brother, Fred, drove from Toledo to Ridgeville Corners. A Navy plane was to pick Hope up in Defiance later on, though it was later diverted to the Archbold Airport for him. Hopefully Defiance County’s connections to Hollywood will continue to grow. Mack said that individuals interested in using Defiance in some part of their film or show usually contact the city and the DDVB. “We coordinate on the next steps,” she said. Maybe the next step will shine even more of those Hollywood lights on the county.


14 views0 comments
Podcast icon.png