As part of the Heartland Tour 2012, Kurtwood Smith—better known as Red Forman from That 70s Show—has been travelling all over the state.
On Wednesday, Smith made a stop at the sundial by the Noel Fine Arts Center to speak to a group of pointers. His main point was to motivate students to register to vote in the November election. Smith began his speech with a short anecdote. He mentioned how lucky he was to have the opportunity to act as Red on That 70s Show for so many years, and explained how he found his voice.
The New Lisbon native said that his father was a man’s man, and recalls how he learned to swim.
“My dad took me down to the dam. There were no public pools in New Lisbon, so everyone swam in the dam,” he said.
After a while of floundering around, Smith said, his father pulled him out and took him home.
“I remember my father telling my mother ‘I can’t teach him to swim, he’s got a lead ass.’ And that’s were the voice of the character really came from,” he said. “Red Forman definitely has his roots in his Wisconsin.”
Getting serious, he urged the students to register to vote, and to tell their friends to do so as well. He related his story about finding his character’s voice to students finding their own as voters.
“You guys are the voice of this campaign,” Smith said. “Tell your friends to vote. Your fellow students will listen to you.”
After he made his point, Smith started talking with students, taking pictures and signing autographs.
Pallin Allar, a student who came to meet Smith, said he had heard about the event via Facebook. He brought with him the first season of That 70s Show on DVD for Smith to autograph. Allar also said he would try to avoid making bad jokes.
“I’ve heard people joking about having him put his foot up Romney’s ass, but I don’t think I’m going to make any lame jokes,” Allar said.
When asked if Red was his favorite character, Allar said he was definitely in the top two.
“Donna is one of my favorite characters. He is pretty funny, though,” he said.
Derek Johnson, another student in the crowd, said he also heard about Smith’s visit from Facebook. Johnson told Smith where he was from, and took a picture with the actor.
“I do love Kelso, but you can’t pick a favorite character from that show,” Johnson said. He also said he regretted not bringing his own DVD collection for Smith to sign. “I have every season,” he said.
Students from the College Democrats helped to organize this event. They advertised with some chalk writing on sidewalks across campus, sent emails to students and made posts to Facebook, the last of which proved to be most effective.
As he was leaving, Smith said the most critical thing this election season is to get people out to the polls to vote.
“What I really want to do is make sure that college kids and their friends vote,” he said.