WATERVILLE — From striding down a catwalk in the early 1960s to posing in ads for Calvin Klein underwear this year at age 73, Lauren Hutton’s life as a style icon seems to have no end.

But it’s matched by her career as an actress. Her debut came in the 1968 sports drama “Paper Lion,” she had well-known roles in the 1970s and 1980s, and she has made recent appearances on television. With that long list of accomplishments, it’s no surprise that the organizers of the Maine International Film Festival decided to honor Hutton with their Mid-Life Achievement Award.

In her initial reaction to the news, she emailed the Morning Sentinel that she was “thrilled this is a Mid-Life Achievement Award, which means I have a lot to look forward to and accomplish.”

She has not lost sight of the significance of the award she was to receive Thursday night. Hutton jokingly called it “the mid-life crisis award” Wednesday after a screening of the 1978 Robert Altman-directed film “A Wedding,” in which she played filmmaker Florence Farmer. She told the film’s audience that she had described the honor to friends as the “not dead yet award.”

“The wonderful thing is, that means I get to live to be 146,” she said at Railroad Square Cinema, where she participated in a brief question-and-answer session with the audience. “It’s a pretty good thing I got.”

Lauren Hutton is the Maine International Film Festival’s Mid-Life Achievement Award winner this year. Staff photo by David Leaming

Hutton joins a star-studded list of previous achievement award winners that includes Ed Harris, Glenn Close, Lili Taylor, Sissy Spacek, Jonathan Demme, Keith Carradine, Walter Hill, Michael Murphy, Jay Cocks, Robert Benton, Peter Fonda, Jos Stelling, Arthur Penn, Terrence Malick, John Turturro, Thelma Schoonmaker, Malcolm McDowell and Bud Cort. Last year’s recipient was actor Gabriel Byrne, who appeared in films such as “Miller’s Crossing” and “The Usual Suspects.”

Born in Charleston, South Carolina, Hutton pursued a modeling career in the 1960s in New York City, overcoming criticism that she was too old, too short and had a gap between her front teeth. Working with celebrated photographers such as Richard Avedon and Irving Penn, she appeared on numerous magazine covers, including more than 25 times on the cover of Vogue. In 1973, she signed what was the biggest modeling contract up to that time with Revlon.

Hutton’s best-known films are from the 1970s and 1980s and include “The Gambler,” which also stars James Caan, and “Welcome to L.A.,” featuring former MIFF award winners Carradine and Spacek.

Hutton perhaps is best known for her role as the character Michelle in “American Gigolo.” Speaking after the question-and-answer session Wednesday, Hutton said that film’s script was the best she ever worked with. Released in 1980 and arguably a cultural precursor of that decade’s values, the romantic crime film also stars Richard Gere and was written and directed by Paul Schrader.

Lauren Hutton indulges in a light moment Wednesday in the lobby of the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville after a screening of “A Wedding.” She is the Maine International Film Festival’s Mid-Life Achievement Award recipient this year. David Leaming/Morning Sentinel

“They still play it all the time,” she said of the film’s legacy, and it was screened Thursday night at the Waterville Opera House before Hutton was scheduled to receive her award.

Hutton had flown in from London and was scheduled to fly back Friday. She currently resides in Taos, New Mexico.

Hutton said one of her great passions in life is traveling, and that she has toured many foreign locations, including Antarctica. She has been to Maine before, recalling visits to see friends in Bath and trips to Maine when she visited Provincetown, Massachusetts.

“I’ve always been a big fan (of Maine) because it’s very eccentric and interesting,” Hutton said.

After the screening of “A Wedding,” Hutton was asked about filming of the movie. She recalled that it took place in Lake Forest, just outside Chicago, and lasted two or three months. “We had fun making it,” she said.

She recalled searching through an old building near the set and finding a basement she would “sneak around in.” There, the woman whose pictures reflected the changing styles of decades found large, old picture albums.

“I remember sitting there for hours looking at them,” she said.

Colin Ellis can be contacted at 861-9253 or at:

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