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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

'Hoosiers' a part of Hollar's life, even after 25 years

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Steve Hollar stands in front of Ashley Square Cinema with his Hickory Husker letter jacket as "Hoosiers" opens in Greencastle in 1986.
Twenty-six years ago this fall, Steve Hollar arrived at DePauw University a skinny freshman, looking forward to life in Greencastle and ultimately a path to dental school.

A DPU basketball recruit under coach Mike Steele for the 1985-86 season, Hollar was already a Hoosier hero, having made the winning free throws for Warsaw High School in the 1984 state championship game.

It was still a one-class tourney then, just as it was when legendary Milan won in 1954 or when its fictional counterpart, Hickory High, captured the mythical 1952 tournament in the film "Hoosiers." (Seriously, they're never going to make a movie about class basketball ...)

Art soon imitated life for Hollar, who was cast as Rade Butcher, one of the eight Hickory Huskers who triumph in "Hoosiers," which debuted in fall 1986.

And life has never been the same for Hollar, now a 44-year-old Warsaw dentist.

Admittedly, not a day goes by that "Hoosiers" isn't a part of his life.

"I would love to tell you otherwise," Hollar said recently, recalling how he had no idea of what the future would bring as he stood alongside director David Anspaugh just before the film's world premiere 25 years ago this fall.

"Anspaugh said, 'Steve, after tonight your life will never be the same.'"

Up until that premiere, Hollar and the other actors hadn't seen anything but short scenes and basketball sequences and had no clue how Anspaugh and screenwriter Angelo Pizzo had interwoven those parts into what most film experts consider one of the greatest sports movies of all time.

"Hoosiers" actor and 1989 DePauw University graduate Steve Hollar is now a Warsaw dentist.
"Literally about every line of dialogue I had was left in there," Hollar said, a hint of surprise still in his voice a quarter-century later.

"That comment (by Anspaugh) just echoes in my mind," the 1989 DePauw grad added. "I have revisited his statement many, many times, and realized he really was profoundly right. I have been blessed."

And apparently cursed a little as well.

Hollar was selected to portray Rade Butcher, who in a pivotal scene defies the orders of coach Norman Dale (Gene Hackman) and starts firing up jump shots without making the four obligatory Bob Knight-like passes before each shot. The insubordination earns Hollar/Butcher a seat on the bench, where the coach makes him stay even after several players foul out and Hickory is left with four on the floor.

"My team is on the floor," is Hackman's subsequent line to the referee, as Hollar looks on incredulously, warm-up jersey halfway over his head.

Hollar loved the Butcher character, but despised the name Rade.

"I hated that name," he said. "Angelo Pizzo scarred me for life. It's like a can of Raid ... R-A-I-D.

"I've spent my whole life with most people thinking it was like that or that it was 'Ray.' I end up just agreeing with them and going on."

Hollar says he was three weeks into his freshman year at DePauw when his life was turned upside down and he started running back and forth between classes and movie tryouts at Indianapolis. Once he was guaranteed the role of Rade, he decided to drop out for the semester.

"DePauw made a great move," he said. "I had missed the deadline to withdraw and have the (tuition) money refunded to my parents, so I ended up having a meeting with (DPU President) Bob Bottoms, and struck a deal with him.

"He would refund the money to my parents if I made sure that every time there was a press release (about 'Hoosiers'), it would say 'Steve Hollar (comma), DePauw University student.' And if you look back at most of the articles, it does. So they got their money's worth."

And ultimately so did Hollar, even beyond the $17,000 Screen Actors Guild scale he was paid for the 39-day shoot on the $6 million budget movie. He returned to DePauw the next semester, rejoined the basketball team during winter term and finished his undergraduate degree in 3-1/2 years, graduating with his 1989 class.

Hollar, left, in a scene with the film's star, Gene Hackman.
"I humped it," Hollar said. "I was pretty eager to get going with dental school.

"But you want to talk about a DePauw education, it really has served me well, especially when you consider that the role of college is to make you think, reason and communicate."

Hollar, who married the former Jennifer Keeping, herself a 1990 DePauw graduate, has tried to keep his "Hoosiers" experience low key in his professional life, but even that has been difficult.

The website for his dental office details his family (wife and three high school-age children), his position on the Indiana State Board of Dentistry and his tenure as past president of the North Central Indiana Dental Association. It does not, however, mention "Hoosiers," Hickory or Rade Butcher.

And up until recently, the only overt reference to the film in his office was an original movie poster on the wall.

Now, however, with all the interest in the film's 25th anniversary and Hollar and other players making personal appearances around Indiana and elsewhere, his mother decided to was time to celebrate his connection.

She created a shadowbox with movie mementoes from "Hoosiers" that is now displayed in his office and seldom fails to elicit comments.

Hollar explained that "Hoosiers"-related opportunities are still knocking. He was speaking at the local college at a $50-a-plate dinner recently and appeared with the real-life Milan High School heroes, like Bobby Plump, at an Elkhart event.

On Carb Day at the 2011 Indianapolis 500, Hollar and fellow "Hoosiers" actors even signed autographs alongside auto racing legends.

"That was the most amazing thing," he said. "Who would have thought that 25 years later we would be sitting there signing autographs at Carb Day?"

It's because people relate to the film, which is not just a sports movie but a story of redemption on so many levels.

"I think it affects them emotionally," Hollar reasoned. "Everyone has a story, and they're all Hoosiers. They want to tell you about their high school, or when they played against Oolitic, or when their dad played. Or they may even be the dad that played.

"Really, it's their story, and that's what's neat."

Even 25 years later ...

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We had the good fortune to be in the Chateau ( remember that theater) when the DePauw basketball team came in to see the movie. Every time Steve Holler appeared on screen the comments and cat calls filled the theater. It was a night to remember.

-- Posted by Senior citizen on Thu, Dec 1, 2011, at 3:26 PM

I recently met with Dr. Steve Hollar (Rade Butcher in the movie). He is not only genuine, but the nicest person I have ever met. As a dentist myself, I can personally say his skills are exceptional as he worked on me and his character is flawless. His staff and office are also amazing. He shared incredibly motivating stories about the movie and his real life. I will cherish them forever as they are rare and true.

He took me out to dinner and shared a part of history from quite possibly the best sports movie ever made. The true history of the Milan team as well as his high school team and the team in the movie is a once in a lifetime experience to hear it first hand.

27 years later, Dr. Hollar still smiles and laughs in person exactly as he did in the movie. It was spooky cool:). Some actors are completely different off screen (I've heard or read), but it's no coincidence he was cast for the part as he genuine and talented. He truly is blessed as stated in the article.

I think the movie is a classic for more than the story line. It's nice and comforting to know that some movies are "real" and so are the people that make them.

If you like the movie Hoosiers and need a dentist that is pain free and has perfect skills.... please go to the most polite sleepy town in America and visit Dr Hollar (Rade Butcher) in Warsaw Indiana.

Dr. B

-- Posted by dentist97 on Tue, Apr 2, 2013, at 1:54 AM

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