County celebrates movie anniversary

by Sam Eggleston

8af4fd8eMurder will be the driving force behind many of the activities throughout Marquette County this summer—or, to be more specific, Anatomy of a Murder will be.
The fiftieth anniversary of the landmark court drama’s creation, filmed in its entirety in Big Bay, Ishpeming, Michigamme, Marquette and surrounding areas and written by local John Voelker, has spawned celebrations in seemingly every shape, size and style.
From tours of the filming locations to a documentary about the movie to reunions with the extras who were in the movie, Marquette County is boiling over with excitement for the anniversary that put them on the map.
“It was the biggest thing to ever happen around here,” said Anthony “Gigs” Gagliardi in a 2008 interview. “Everyone was excited. These were movie stars and they were right here in Ishpeming.”
Gagliardi would know. At the time the movie was filmed, he was making a name for himself as a local business owner. His club, the Roosevelt Supper Club, became an unofficial cast and crew gathering place where they dined on his meals and enjoyed a few drinks. After one day of shooting locally, the actors all came to the Roosevelt for some relaxation.
“That was the night they all signed my wall,” beamed Gagliardi.
Jimmy Stewart, Duke Ellington, George C. Scott, Lee Remick and Eve Arden all inked their names on the wall of the supper club.
The wall, which is in the basement of a building on the corner of Pine and Division streets in downtown Ishpeming, now is owned by Kurt Gronvall and his sister, Stacey Willey. The siblings are the owners of Globe Printing and “The Wall,” as it is known, often is sought by fans of the movie.
When the building was acquired from Gagliardi, it came with a stipulation: The Wall had to be preserved. For Gronvall, there was no question about it.
“He was eager to keep the wall preserved,” Gronvall said. “There’s always someone who wants to see it. It’s as popular as ever.”
And to show how open Gronvall and Willey are to the idea of having fans of the movie visit the wall, they are hosting “Personal Recollections of Anatomy” at 2:00 p.m. on July 1 for a guided tour of The Wall to see the signatures found in the former supper club.
And that won’t be all in the way of celebration for the city of Ishpeming. On June 24, Jasper Ridge brewery will host a special Anatomy of a Murder trivia night at 8:00 p.m. The Ishpeming Area Historical Society will follow that up with a tour of historic homes through the area from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. June 28.
The first week of July, which coincides with Ishpeming’s Festival of Treasures, will feature several events. July 1 will find a guided walking tour of the Ishpeming locations used to film the movie at 11:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to go hand-in-hand with the Globe Printing tour. Starting at 5:30 p.m. on July 2, the Carnegie Library on Main Street, which was featured in several scenes with Stewart in the movie, will have an open house. The Festival of Treasures will take place at 10:00 a.m. on July 3.
Events in the city of Marquette throughout the end of June and the month of July also will have an Anatomy theme.
A large-scale exhibit regarding the making of the film and featuring memorabilia of Voelker, a lawyer and Michigan Supreme Court justice and who served as an adviser to the film, will take place from June until December at the Beaumier Heritage Center.
The movie will be brought to the stage at the end of July when the Lake Superior Theatre hosts a production.
In addition, area residents will be treated to several showings of the film at Peter White Public Library at 1:00 p.m. June 22 and July 2 and 6:00 p.m. July 7 and July 21. The film also will be shown at the Marquette County Courthouse, where the court scenes were filmed, at 6:00 p.m. June 26.
Peter White Public Library will host a screening of Anatomy ’59: The Making of a Classic Motion Picture, a documentary by independent film maker John Pepin. A reception will take place at 7:30 p.m. June 29 and the documentary will be shown at 9:00 p.m.
The celebrations for Voelker’s memorable movie don’t stop in the cities, either. The town of Michigamme, featured prominently in the movie with scenes shot at Mt. Shasta, will host several events. The Michigamme Museum, open for the season, has displays dedicated to the movie while Mt. Shasta, which displays memorabilia from the movie year-round, will be hosting a slew of events.
On June 26 and July 3, Mt. Shasta will host a brook trout fish fry and the playing of the movie’s award-winning soundtrack by area musician Jim Pederson, who will be back June 27 and June 30 for encore performances. The party continues at Mt. Shasta with a book signing by author Joanie Hansen, who wrote Anatomy of Anatomy, on June 27 and July 1, daytime showings of the film June 28, June 29 and July 1, with cake being served on June 29 in honor of Voelker’s birthday.
“It’s really so exciting to be a part of it all,” said Mt. Shasta owner Nancy Ferro. “I didn’t have any idea how popular this movie still was until I came here.”
On July 11, there will be an Anatomy of a Murder art auction in Michigamme as well.
Another small town that played a big part in the movie will be hosting celebrations come August. Big Bay, which is home to the Thunder Bay Inn, where the tavern scenes were filmed for the movie, will be having Anatomy of a Murder Night on August 7.
Big Bay also is the location of the Lumberjack Tavern, where a man named Coleman Peterson shot Maurice Chenoweth to death in 1952.
The killing took place after Peterson’s wife, Charlotte Anne, alleged that she was raped by Chenoweth. It was that case, which Voelker defended as a lawyer and won with a jury decision of temporary insanity, that is widely argued to have inspired the book and eventual film—though Voelker always insisted the tale was nothing more than a fiction-based novel.
The floor of the tavern, which has newspaper clippings, photos of Chenoweth’s body, memorabilia from the book and movie and merchandise for sale, features the famous movie logo of a cutout of a victim’s body on the very spot where Chenoweth’s body had fallen after being shot six times by Peterson’s 9mm pistol.
“They can’t get enough of the movie around here,” reflected Gagliardi, a personal friend of Voelker’s and a member of the Voelker Foundation. “I think it’s always going to be that way. It’s really something to be proud of.”
— Sam Eggleston

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