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Geddes native's 1937 film to be shown this weekend

GEDDES -- When Ruth Burnham was a young girl in Geddes, she was listening to her sister Hannah play the piano while Evelyn Shuck sang. Into the middle of the practice session walked a man whose name Burnham cannot remember. He talked to Burnham f...

Geddes movie star
Evelyn Daw, of Geddes, stars with James Cagney in "Something to Sing About." (Photo courtesy of Sharon Ackley)

GEDDES -- When Ruth Burnham was a young girl in Geddes, she was listening to her sister Hannah play the piano while Evelyn Shuck sang.

Into the middle of the practice session walked a man whose name Burnham cannot remember.

He talked to Burnham first, asking if she was the kid sister and if she sang as well. Then he spoke to Shuck and Hannah. He asked them if they wanted to go to Hollywood.

Burnham, who now resides in Mitchell and whose maiden name is Helland, remembers both girls turning down the offer. But Shuck's parents later said they would move out west with her.

"That's how it got started," Burnham said. "And she made the movies ... little did we think when we were young that there would be a movie star in the bunch."

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After moving to Hollywood, Shuck used her stage name: Evelyn Daw. By 1937, she starred in the movie "Something to Sing About" with screen legend James Cagney.

Daw stars as the wife of a New York bandleader, Cagney, who travels to Hollywood after being offered a contract with a movie studio.

This Saturday, the movie will be shown at 7:30 p.m. at the Geddes Community Building, 401 Wisconsin Ave.

"This is the first time we've done this," said Sharon Ackley, Geddes City Council member and Geddes Historical Society treasurer. "We've talked about it for maybe about a year."

Daw, the daughter of Walter and Edith Shuck, was born and raised in Geddes and graduated with the class of 1930.

Daw was in two Hollywood movies, the most successful being "Something to Sing About." She later sang with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Schubert Brothers in New York City.

"She was a local girl who did make it good," Ackley said. "We just thought it would be good ... people might want to see this movie."

When the movie opened, Burnham said it was shown in Geddes before it was shown anywhere else. She remembers the excitement that spread through the town.

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"Boy, what a crowd," Burnham said. "The band was out, people all over were out, the arrangements were made. She didn't get to make it in person, but she talked over the phone." While there isn't a charge to view the movie Saturday, there will be a freewill offering for snacks and sale items including T-shirts and copies of the 100-year Geddes anniversary book.

Ron Dufek is secretary of the Geddes Historical Society, which will benefit from the event. The money will go toward the pioneer museum, an original 1800s trading post, an original school house and other historical buildings in the town. The house where Daw grew up at 502 First St. is still standing and in good shape, according to Dufek. The house will be open for people to walk through from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Dufek said Geddes is proud of its local star.

"Anytime you get a small town that has an individual like that who lived and grew up there, it's kind of a plug for these small towns," Dufek said.

Burnham said everyone enjoyed the movie's premiere years ago.

"We didn't get to go to movies very much those days," she said. "James Cagney was a very nice looking guy. Of course, Evelyn was beautiful, too. They were a good looking couple when they had their picture taken together."

Burnham can't remember meeting Daw after she left for Hollywood. She said there was one time when Daw was back in Geddes, but Burnham didn't get the chance to see her. Daw died in 1970.

"After she left, she was in the movies and she ended up, oh my, she ended up in westerns," Burnham said. "She really made a life out of music."

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'Something to Sing About' poster
"Something to Sing About" is a 1937 film that stars James Cagney, Evelyn Daw and William Frawley. Cagney plays Terry Rooney, a New York bandleader who is offered a contract with a movie studio in Hollywood, and Daw plays Rita Wyatt, Rooney's wife. (Image courtesy of Ron Dufek)

Related Topics: MOVIES
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