Reference to Duluth on American Crime Story

Season two of American Crime Story, which dramatizes the five murders committed by Andrew Cunanan and is subtitled The Assassination of Gianni Versace, features a quick Duluth mention. The character David Madson is portrayed as an award-winning student at the University of Minnesota Duluth, which is sort of true.

As reported in the Slate article “What’s fact and what’s fiction in The Assassination of Gianni Versace’s gruesome fourth episode,” the real David Madson attended the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus when he won the award.

In a flashback, Madson remembers coming out to his father at the same time as telling he’s won the President’s Award from the University of Minnesota–Duluth for best thesis by an architecture student. This is more or less correct. He won the award, for a traveling exhibit on AIDS, as a master’s student attending the university’s main Minneapolis campus.

But the real-life David J. Madson, a native of Barron, Wis., did indeed graduate from UMD in 1987 before earning his master’s degree in architecture at the Main U in 1995. He was shot to death by Cunanan in 1997 at the age of 33.

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As an awkward aside to this particularly grisly edition of “References to Duluth in Film/TV or Other Media,” it should be noted the Duluth News Tribune has published a story about Duluth references in pop culture, with mention of Perfect Duluth Day’s fascination with said topic. Here’s a link: “Duluth is a go-to name-drop for TV, movies, music and literature. And we love it.

1 Comment


about 5 years ago

Duluth is mentioned as the location of a bombing by a Native American (revolutionary guerrilla group? I can't think of the right word for it) in Tony Hillerman's The Listening Woman. I'd make a post, but that's really all I have to say about it, and the ebook is checked out, so I can't even find the passage to quote. I'll leave it to more zealous posters than myself.

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