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Brushes With Fame

This article first appeared in issue 18, and was written by Ed Waggener.

From encounters with Elvis of the lst kind, to thrilling stars with their dancing prowess, Adair Countians have affected movie history in their meetings with the stars

Movie stars have had a habit of running into Adair Countians through the years. These meetings no doubt had a great impact on the stars and their careers, whether the Adair Countians met the stars before they were stars or whether the Adair Countians were already Adair Countians or would attain that lofty status sometime in the future. In any event, there is little doubt but that these meetings, in the cumulative, have had a healthy impact on the course of cinema history.

Pete & Grover

& Elvis & Elvis' Driver

Grover Gilpin and Pete Walker were going to Frankfort during the last Chandler administration, which took place sometime in the 1900s.

They stopped at the Old Stone Inn in Harrodsburg at about 5 a.m. for breakfast. Elvis Presley and another man were there.

The King and his friend said they had been performing in Lexington and left for Nashville at 2:00 a.m. "They must have been driving around in circles," Grover says. "They asked us for directions and Pete told them. I said 'No, that's as bad as when you got us lost in Willisburg,' and I gave them good directions. I don't know when Elvis and that fellow got to Nashville, or what. They weren't in the best of shape when they left us."

2,000 Adair Countians and Jerry Lee

Jerry Lee Lewis' life was basis of movie Great Balls of Fire. He came to Columbia after new HS gym open, circa 1957. Lewis caused much damned astonishment when he banged on the ACHS piano, which had been in the custody of a very proper Frances Russell. Lewis sang A Whole Lotta Shakin, did some wicked shaking himself, and manhandled the cherished Baldwin.

A greater entertainer from the crowd, the late great Bulldog Curry, danced and stole the show from Jerry Lee Lewis. When Lewis and Curry worked the crowd into a frenzied dance, the scene in the gym was evocative of the Children of Israel worshipping the Aaron's Golden Calf in the Cecil B. DeMille's Ten Commandments, an all time Adair County favorite. Depending on one's perspective, the event was one of the highest, or lowest moments in the county's history.

Mary & Bill

Mary Keltner is a Registered Nurse at the Adair County Health Department. She is a born-again Adair Countian, who grew up neighbors to the Murray clan in suburban Chicago.

She remembers that Bill Murray was in her families house as much as he was in his own, and that from early childhood is was doing outrageous things to get laughs. Murray was from a large family, around 10, Mary Keltner remembers.

Charles & Doris

Charles Sparks danced with Doris Day in Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1950. He was in the service of the United States at the time. Students of the Life of Sparks should also make note of the fact that he play baseball against the "King and his Court," the baseball counterparts of the Harlem Globetrotters, while stationed in Biloxi.

Russ & Traci

"Oh, and how could I forget...the not-so-famous "B" movie actress Tracy Lynn of Louisville-whose pre-Hollywood last name was Warmes-went to school with me for several years in Louisville-even kissed me on the cheek in 6th grade. How's that? A recent People-not that I read that, never-has a photo of Tracy Lynn on the arm of Princess Diana's Fayhed beau!," Former Reed Street resident, now Washington journalist, Russ Walker remembers.

Duane Ellen & Lee

"All I know was that Harvey Yeary ( actor Lee Majors) played football at Eastern when I was there, and Rock Hudson came to Richmond while I was there. Lots of people went downtown with the hopes of seeing him. Being the shy type that I am, I stayed in the dorm," Duane Ellen Haley, formerly of West 900 in suburban Glens Fork, now a teacher living in Ohio.

Kay & Bruce

& Demi & Sylvester

Kay Smith, an honorary Adair Countian by way of being the mother of my favorite daughter-in-law, saw Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, and Sylvester Stallone in the Galt House during the Ali Cup this year.

Cindy & Red

Part of Cindy (Mrs. Haskin) Rowe's childhood was spent near Vincennes, Indiana. She remembers seeing Red Skelton when he would make his frequent trips back to town."I never actually shook hands with him," she says, "but I saw him often."

Rhonda & Lucas

Rhonda Durrett, Jimmy & Phyllis Firquin's daughter, lives in Madison, Alabama. She knows Lucas Black II, the 15-year-old boy who plays Frank Wheatley in Sling Blade. Black lives in nearby Danville, Alabama. Both towns are in the northern part of the state.

James Howard Keltner

and a host of stars

James Howard Keltner once was involved with the investigation of Lucien Rivard, the real French Connection. "The movie had nothing to do with Lucien Rivard, but he was the French Connection." Keltner once met and shook hands with one of his film heroes, Boris Karloff, who was in a wheelchair at O'Hare. Boris Karloff took over when Bela Lugosi's star faded. He was in a fancy restaurant in DC and saw Peter Ustinov. He didn't interrupt Mr. Ustinov's meal, but he did pass him and say, "Mr. Ustinov, I enjoy your performances. Ustinov said, "Thanks," and left. He once talked to Tarzan for about 20 minutes. Johnny Weismuller was at O'Hare, waiting for his wife. Once he got Cassius Clay-Ali now-for a $3M customs fine over a very expensive watch. "He's a LARGE man," Keltner said. "He's a lot bigger in real life than he looks on Tv,' he added. Keltner once busted Leon Uris on a jewelry customs case. It was ca 1967. "He had just gotten married. In a way it was sad." It was at O'Hare. Very importantly, the former customs agent has a photo of himself taken with Minnie Pearl. You just can't brush with fame greater than her.

This story was posted on 1997-12-24 12:01:01
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Archive Photo

1997-12-24 - Photo Staff. Frances Hodges in 1941, a student at Graham Elementary.This item first appeared in Issue 18 of the print edition of Columbia! Magazine.
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