Sunday, April 18, 2010


Our old high school was the home of at least two nationally famous writers. Charles Kuralt comes to mind immediately since many of us knew him. But the other one has just about been forgotten.

CHS graduate Marion Hargrove became famous in 1942 for his bestselling book, SEE HERE PRIVATE HARGROVE (The book was made into a 1944 movie starring Robert Walker and Donna Reed.)

But that's about all we ever knew about our famous alumus. Hargrove continued writing, but unlike Kuralt, he worked behind the cameras....away from the bright lights of show business. Nevertheless, his work continued to be a part of the American culture until his death. In 1955 he moved to Hollywood and began writing for movies and TV. Among his credits are:

The Music Man  and television episodes of Maverick (1957), The Restless Gun (1957), Colt .45 (1957), Zane Grey Theater (1957), the pilot script for 77 Sunset Strip entitled Girl on the Run (1958), The Rogues (1964), I Spy (1966), and The Waltons (1975),

 I thought you'd like to see this letter I stumbled upon on the internet about CHS's other famous writer:

"Marion Hargrove was my father.

I, like most people, was deeply impressed by my father's generosity and kindness. He was an fascinating and very intelligent man with a vast array of interests. He was also a fabulous story teller. As my daughter said, he loved to tell them stories, especially of me as a young person. One of his favorites was as follows:

The Warner Brothers studio had sent him to New York to discuss adapting the Broadway show of The Music Man with Morton da Costa (the stage director - who had also directed the movie of Auntie Mame) and Robert Preston (the lead actor in the Broadway show). Since I was with him that weekend, he took me along to the Russian Tea Room to have lunch with these two to talk them into coming to Hollywood to make the movie. As we were ordering lunch, my father asked me if I wanted a glass of milk. I was looking at the menu, and said in an astonished voice: "A dollar twenty-five for a glass of milk??!! That's outrageous!!" (This was in the early 60's). However, my father said not to worry?.. that Jack Warner was paying for it. I still said no. I had water. So, the lunch went on with my father trying to convince the two that if the second act was pumped up and a different finale was written, that it would make a great movie.

Just before we left, Morton da Costa turned to my father and said he thought they would do it, but only if your son is the executive producer. (I was very tight with a buck) Anyway, the film got made; my father won the Writers Guild award for the best musical; da Costa was nominated for an Academy Award (as well as 6 others on the film) and the Directors Guild award.......and; it was one of the last big screen American musicals. 

I can't tell you how much I miss my father in the last few years. He was always a source of love and inspiration. When I went back to North Carolina, with my daughter Hannah, for my father's memorial service, I told her that she would have to get used to people not being in a hurry and wanting to talk to us. These are the people my father grew up with. And sure enough, everyone from the man at the counter of the rent-a-car office to waitresses at road stop diners wanted to chat with us and exchange personal histories. The most asked question was: Who are your people? It was a wonderful experience to be among the people who helped mold my father's character. I was very proud to be my father's son and told everyone so. 

The years that have gone by since 2003 do not diminish the love of a lost one. I'm glad my children got to know him. My favorite picture of my father is having a granddaughter on his lap in my backyard reading to her. My children are still great readers and will carry on the literary tradition he felt was so important.

Rest in peace, Dad."