Tuesday, December 29, 2009

RIP Shari Rhodes

Casting director known for empathyAnne Constable | The New Mexican
Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Shari Swofford Rhodes, a casting director for the film industry for 30 years, died Sunday at Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center after a long struggle with cancer. She was 71.

Rhodes cast such movies as Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Silverado, Tender Mercies and Terms of Endearment. She had been working in Albuquerque casting television series such as Crash, Breaking Bad and In Plain Sight. She was especially proud of being able to co-produce the 1991 movie The Man in the Moon, which was written by her friend Jenny Wingfield.

Michael Miller, an actor, producer and director (and Santa Fe High School graduate) who took a couple of workshops with Rhodes, said, "She had an eye. She could spot raw talent across the room."

Miller, who said, "She probably put me in a couple of roles I didn't earn myself," noted that Rhodes was the person who cast Reese Witherspoon in her first movie role in The Man in the Moon.

"I think she had an empathy for actors and for people in general," Miller said.

At the time of her death, he said, they were working with producers Bill Gilmore (Jaws) and Dorothea Petrie on a movie called Stray Hearts.

Phalia Blassingame said Rhodes, her sister, moved to Santa Fe from Los Angeles about three years ago. "She came on to visit (a niece), fell in love with it. She was happier in New Mexico than any place she'd ever been. It was a real happy time for her," Blassingame said.

Rhodes will be buried in Paris, Texas, next to her daughter, Stacy Rhodes Resch, who died in an auto accident in 1988. A celebration of Shari Rhodes' life will be held at a later date.

In addition to her daughter, she was preceded in death by her father, Jewell Doyle Swofford, her brother, Timothy Clark Swofford, and a sister, Robin Swofford Engels.

She is survived by her mother, Elsie Julian of Paris, Texas; son Kenneth Doyle Rhodes of Los Angeles; sisters Phalia Blassingame and husband Jim of Paris, Texas, and Judy Young and husband Charles of Athens, Ga.; brother Mark Swofford of Portland, Ore.; nieces Susan Young of Santa Fe and Jennifer Walsh of Athens, Ga.; and nephews Wade and Mark Blassingame of Paris, Texas, among other relatives.

RHODES, Shari Swofford
Born: 1938, Paris, Texas, U.S.A.
Died: 12/20/2009, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Shari Rhodes' westerns - casting director:
Barbarosa - 1982
Noon Wine (TV) - 1985
Silverado - 1985
North and South (TV) - 1985
Louis L'Amour's Down the Long Hills (TV) - 1986
Wild Bill - 1995
Walker, Texas Ranger (TV) - 1998
Comanche Moon (TV) - 2008
The Burrowers - 2008


  1. One day in February 1988 I was driving through Jackson, MS. I believe I was running some errands. I noticed people gathering at the old National Guard Armory, which I took for an auction or flea market. Turned out it was a casting call for "Mississippi Burning". Shari was the first person I ran into, right there at the door. Right off the bat she handed me a sheet with some lines to recite in audition. I didn't get a speaking part. But I did--for an extra--get some excellent screen exposure as a "reporter", working directly with Michael Rooker. God Bless You, Shari, for the excellent memories.

  2. Shari cast be in a guest star role on Walker, Texas Ranger back in 1997 and brought me in on 3 other occasions. I think sometimes she might have been predisposed to certain actors. She was a gracious person

  3. I knew Shari when I was a child. She, Kenny, and Stacy lived in St. Louis MO at the time. Shari and my mom, Alyce Craft, were good friends. Stacy and I were buddies too. I remember lots of good times from back then (that was circa 1970). RIP Shari and Stacy. Cami