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Mockingbird star personalizes film experience in Fresno appearance

I had the privilege of attending a presentation by Mary Badham at Sunnyside High on March 20. Badham was the actress who played the character Scout in the original movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird. The presentation was very interesting and I really enjoyed it.

She would relate a lot of the questions she was asked to her past and seemed really comfortable talking on stage. I feel like I learned a bunch of facts and a lot about her life.

Mary Badham grew up in Alabama. As a child, she was a tomboy. She thinks that was one of the reasons she got the part for Scout. Later on when she was around nine or ten, she moved to Los Angeles where she went to an all girls private school. She loved riding horses in her younger years.

In 1962 she was the youngest actor at the academy awards. At the academy awards, Danny Thomas wanted to meet her so she went up to him and sat on his lap. She said that he had the biggest nose she had ever seen.

Mary said that there was a social issue in the 1930s that she experienced it as she was growing up. One of the things that stood out to me was that she hated racial discrimination. Mary realized how bad racial discrimination was during an experience she faced as a young girl. This took place when Mary’s beloved African American nanny was cursed and threatened on a bus for crossing the line between black and white seating.

To Kill a Mockingbird took five months to shoot and she met author Harper Lee on set one day. Mary had stunt doubles for some of her scenes. She said that she felt closer to Philip Alford, who played Jem, than to her real brothers. Her most enjoyable moment of the movie was the scene where she was reading to Atticus.

The hardest scene she says was when she and the kids showed up at the jail to see Atticus. She was really sad when the filming was over because she and the actors had become a family both behind and in front of the camera.

Mary said, this book speaks to what’s going on with our kids today. Things are not always what they seem. One out of many interesting facts of the movie was that the dog in the movie was not actually shot. They put peanut butter and whipped cream in the dog’s mouth so that it would appear as if the dog had rabies.

I’m really glad that I chose to attend the talk because this is one of my favorite books and it was really fun to see a character from the book share about her experience. It was interesting because I learnt what a fascinating and independent person Mary Badham is today. I think its great that she works as an art restorer today.

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