Anti-war activist Ron Kovic grew up in Massapequa, New York, but much of the movie of his life story was filmed in Oak Cliff.
“Born on the Fourth of July,” which won Oliver Stone the Oscar for best director, filmed in Oak Cliff in October 1988. The crew transformed the Elmwood commercial district to make it look like the Kovic’s hometown.
The University of North Texas library project Spotlight on North Texas researched the film’s production.
Several key scenes were shot in Dallas with local actors, students, and industry members playing an important role. Margaret B. Henderson Elementary School stood in for Kovic’s High School. “Arthur’s Bar,” where Tom Cruise gets in a fistfight, was actually shot at Milo Butterfingers near SMU. SMU also made an appearance as Syracuse University during scenes of student protests. The Dallas Convention Center was even used for action taking place at the Republican National Convention in Miami, Florida.
Elmwood is featured most prominently in a scene where Ron Kovic, played by Tom Cruise, is part of a welcome home parade.
After production, Cruise even took out an ad in the Oak Cliff Tribune thanking the community. His performance earned him an Academy Awards nomination for best actor.
See the movie 30 years later at the Texas Theatre at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 6.