Those who recall David Anspaugh as a youth in Decatur in the 1950s and 1960s would never have attached the title "living legend" to him.
However, decades later, Anspaugh, a veteran film and television director, has reached that level, having been acclaimed as an "Indiana Living Legend."
He and three others, including Angelo Pizzo, his screenwriting friend and former fraternity brother at Indiana University, and Indianapolis Colts president Bill Polian, will be honored by that formal designation on July 29 in downtown Indianapolis at a major event sponsored by the Indiana Historical Society (IHS).
The other living legend honoree is Joyce Sommers, president emeritus of the Indianapolis Art Center and its president and executive director from 1976 to 2009.
Anspaugh is due back in Decatur in August for the city's 175th anniversary celebration.
The July 29 Legends gala at The History Center will be a black-tie event, with a cocktail reception at 6 p.m., a gourmet supper at 7 p.m., and the program at 8 p.m. The master of ceremonies will be Mike Ahern, longtime television news anchor and reporter in Indianapolis.
Tickets are $250 or $350 per person, or $2,500 or $3,500 for tables of 10, with all but $75 of each ticket being tax-deductible as a gift to the IHS.
Anspaugh, whose father, Lawrence, was a well-known professional photographer in Decatur for many years, began his media career as a director of numerous episodes of such TV shows as "Hill Street Blues," "Miami Vice," and "St. Elsewhere."
He eventually moved on to movies and made two that are regarded as among the best and most popular sports films in Hollywood history: "Hoosiers," a fictionalized version of the famed story of Milan High School's state basketball championship in 1954, and "Rudy," the true story of a never-say-die walkon football player at Notre Dame who gets to live his dream and play in a big home game at South Bend.
Anspaugh, who graduated from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, has won three Emmy Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, one Peabody Award, two Black Image Awards from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and a Directors Guild of America Award as best director. He also was nominated two other times for directorial awards.
He made four other films: "The Game of Their Lives," "Fresh Horses," "Moonlight and Valentino," and "Little Red Wagon," which is due to be released soon.
In addition, the Decatur native directed four Movies of the Week on TV and more than 50 television commercials.
In 1991, Anspaugh won the Indiana Governor's Arts Award and has been named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Indiana's governor.
Pizzo, who is from Bloomington, wrote the screenplays for "Hoosiers," "Rudy," and "The Game of Their Lives." He also won a Sagamore of the Wabash Award and received an honorary doctorate from Franklin College in Indiana.
Polian is in his 13th year as president of the Colts and has won the Executive of the Year Award six times from The Sporting News magazine.
Sommers led the Indianapolis office of UNICEF and was named Indiana's Fundraising Executive of the Year in 2001 by the state chapter of the American Society of Fundraising Professionals.