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Faces of Moriarty: John Huston

Faces of Moriarty: John Huston

“… the actor in some strange drama …”

– The Adventure of The Yellow Face (YELL)

NBC MONDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES -- "Sherlock Holmes in New York" -- Pictured: John Huston as Professor Moriarty -- (Photo by: Bud Gray/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NBC MONDAY NIGHT AT THE MOVIES — “Sherlock Holmes in New York” — John Huston as Professor Moriarty — (Photo by: Bud Gray/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)

John Huston was an Oscar winning screenwriter, director and actor with a career that spanned over 50 years. Many of the films he was involved with are considered classics – The Maltese Falcon, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The African Queen, The Night of the Iguana, Prizzi’s Honor, Sergeant York, and Chinatown.

In the 1976 made for television movie, Sherlock Holmes in New York, Huston portrayed Professor Moriarty and developed a scheme to rob a bank vault and cause an international incident.

Legion of MeritHuston would join the Army Signal Corps. as a Captain in 1942, at the start of World War II. While in uniform, he directed and produced three films that critics rank among the finest made about World War II.

Huston rose to the rank of major and received the Legion of Merit for courageous work under battle conditions.

The Legion of Merit is 1 7/8 inches (48mm)  of width. It is an White star of five reversed points, each tipped with a Gold ball, surrounded by Crimson on a Green laurel wreath connecting at the bottom with a Gold bow-know (rosette). A Blue circle surrounded by Gold clouds is in the middle with 13 White stars set in the pattern that is on the United States Coat of Arms. Arrows, crossed and pointing outwards are contained in the wreath flanked by each star point.

At the top in a v-shaped angle, the pendant is attached to the ribbon by a suspension ring. On the reverse side of the star is enameled in White, with a Crimson border. Space is available for the recipient’s name on a circle bordered by the words “ANNUIT COEPTIS MDCCLXXXII.” The words “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” are on an outer scroll.

The ribbon for the decoration is 1 3⁄8 inches (35 mm) wide and consists of the following stripes: 1⁄16 inch (1.6 mm) white; center 1 1⁄4 inches (32 mm) crimson; and 1⁄16 inch (1.6 mm) white.

There are four degrees of the Legion of Merit, all of which are only available to non U.S. citizens, with some slight variations in the decoration.  All U.S. military that receive this honor do so without degree and is the decoration described above.

Huston ok medal

Prior to his death in 1987, Huston gave permission to Le Club Français de La Médaille and sculptor Gerard Suzeau-Villeneuve to portray in him in the below medal.

Huston Medal

Struck in 1995, as part of a series to commemorate 100 years of film, this 3 inch (80mm) medal weighs 9 ounces. The edge is marked “CU” to indicate copper and features a horn to indicate that it was struck at the Monnaie de Paris. The edge is also marked to indicate that the medal is one of the 100 medals struck.

The reverse design of the medal is quite lovely and reminds me of the closing scene of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. The top legend of THE END seems to be a playful take on the ending of a movie.

Below is a clip of the start of Sherlock Holmes in New York showing Huston giving a wonderful performance as Professor Moriarty.


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