10/13/08 — Mount Olive pays tribute to native son

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Mount Olive pays tribute to native son

By Nelson Bland
Published in News on October 13, 2008 1:46 PM


An original poster of a 1940s movie, "See Here, Private Hargrove," written by the late Marion Hargrove, a Mount Olive native, is dedicated Sunday. From left are Stephen Hargrove of California, Marion Hargrove's son; Judy Parks of the historical society; and Molly Williams Holler of Walnut Creek, a cousin of the Hargrove family who helped organize the event at the David John Aaron Museum in Mount Olive.

MOUNT OLIVE -- An original poster of the movie "See Here, Private Hargrove,"a story about Mount Olive native Marion Hargrove's experience as a private in the Army in the 1940s, was dedicated Sunday at the David John Aaron Museum.

The now-famous movie about the late Marion Hargrove was adapted from a best-selling, non-fiction book of the same name written by Hargrove.

The event was organized by Mount Olive native Molly Williams Holler of Walnut Creek, a cousin of the Hargrove family, and Judy Parks of the Mount Olive Area Historical Society.

Ms. Holler unveiled the poster that she purchased on the Internet. The poster reads, in part, "'See Here, Private Hargrove.' MGM Presents Laughs of a Nation's Best Seller on Screen" starring Robert Walker as Pvt. Hargrove, and Donna Reed, Keenan Wynn and others.

Hargrove, who died in California in 2003, went on to write numerous screenplays and scripts including the movies "Music Man," "Edge of Eternity," "Boys Night Out," "Cash McCall" and others.

His television scripts included those for "77 Sunset Strip," "The Waltons," "Zane Grey Theatre," "Fantasy Island," "I Spy," "Maverick," "The Wackiest Ship in the Army" and more.

Hargrove's books, scripts and photos of his career are on display at Steele Memorial Library in Mount Olive.

The library display also includes letters to Hargrove from President Harry Truman, and movie stars such as Audie Murphy, Gloria Swanson and Tony Curtis.

Dilda said Hargrove was drafted into the U.S. Army in July 1941 and while stationed at Fort Bragg wrote vignettes of his basic training experiences and submitted them as columns to The Charlotte News.

Then in 1942, Dilda said, Hargrove met playwright Sherwood Anderson and showed him the columns, and in the following July they were edited and published as "See Here, Private Hargrove" by Henry Holt and Co.

In 1942 the company issued 12 hardcover printings which sold 410,000 copies, and Pocket Books sold another 2.2 million copies in 25-cent paperback editions, according to Dilda.

The book made The New York Times Best Seller List for seven months, and in 1944, the movie version of the book was released, Dilda noted.

Stephen Hargrove and Ms. Haeseler expressed appreciation to Ms. Holler, Ms. Parks, Dilda and others for arranging the dedication.

Stephen Hargrove told the News-Argus that he remembers coming on visits from New York to Mount Olive when he was a little boy.

"My great-grandmother, the Jernigans, lived across Main Street from the cemetery and she would let us run around barefooted. That was a real treat because we didn't do that in New York," he said. "We always had a good time when we came down here (Mount Olive)."

Dilda thanked Hargrove and his sister for making "a cross-country trip" for the dedication.

"It is a privilege and honor to have you with us today," he said, "and we appreciate what Ms. Holler and Ms. Parks have done with making arrangements for today."