WILKES-BARRE -- Hollywood actor Jon Voight said that while Monday was his first time in Wilkes-Barre he has a strong connection to the area.
I've been to Pennsylvania many times, he said. And I'll tell you something many people don't know – my grandfather settled in Shickshinny, where he worked as a coal miner.
Voight's grandfather, George Voytka, came to Shickshinny from Czechoslovakia in the early 1900s.
Voight, 73, was in town to campaign on behalf of Republican Party candidates Mitt Romney for president and Tom Smith for the U.S. Senate.
When Voight was introduced, a woman was heard saying, Oh, my God. Voight said he didn't know what that meant, but the woman assured him it was all good. Voight, who has been nominated for four best actor Oscars and won one, did a theatrical reading to the delight of the 60 or so gathered in the GOP headquarters on South Main Street.
After the reading, Voight, father of actress Angelina Jolie, turned his talk to the campaign. He said he is concerned about what we will leave to our children and future generations.
He asked voters to search their hearts and elect Romney to put America back on its feet.
Santo Agati of Harveys Lake was impressed by Voight and the other speakers at Monday's rally.
It's amazing to me that this area is getting so much attention today, the day before the election, Agati said. It shows Pennsylvania is very much in play.
Voight said his grandfather went to Shickshinny and later found a job in a hat factory in the Hudson Valley of New York. His paternal grandmother, Helen, was born in New Jersey.
Voight's father, a professional golfer, changed the last name from Voytka to Voight by 1929.
Voight said he has two brothers, Barry Voight (born 1937), a former volcanologist at Pennsylvania State University, and Wesley Voight (born in 1940), known as Chip Taylor, a singer-songwriter who wrote Wild Thing by the Troggs and Angel of the Morning.
Some of Jon Voight's career highlights:
• Acted in his first film, Fearless Frank, in 1965.
• His role as hustler Joe Buck in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy earned him an Oscar nomination and launched his career into the big time.
• Other notable films include: Deliverance, Runaway Train, The Manchurian Candidate, The Champ, and A Dog of Flanders.
• In 1978, he picked up a Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of a quadriplegic Vietnam War veteran, alongside Jane Fonda, in Coming Home.
• Appeared opposite his daughter, Angelina Jolie, in Tomb Raider.