Honoring a legend

New booklet on Irene Dunne
to be unveiled at April event

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(April 2007) – A new booklet about Hollywood film star Irene Dunne chronicles her childhood in Madison, Ind., and includes 23 letters she wrote to one of her friends, according to the publishers.

Irene Dunne


“Irene Dunne: Connections to Madison” will be unveiled during a dinner and gathering of Irene Dunne fans at 5:45 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at Buster & Jen’s Diner, 307 W. Main Street, Madison. The event is open to the public, and anyone interested in the late “First Lady of Hollywood” is welcome to attend. Irene Dunne Society members from California, Maryland, Philadelphia and northern Indiana are planning to attend.
Harold “Pee Wee” Lakeman, a Madison city employee who helped organize the marker in front of the Ohio Theatre about the actress and Madison native, and Amy Tarr, president of the Irene Dunne Society fan club, organized the booklet.
Lakeman said the booklet is mainly a series of newspaper clippings that describe her life as a kid. “She had the typical and normal life of any kid growing up here, and we have clippings of some of the events in her life that were recorded in the paper when she was a kid.”
Tarr, 27, recently moved to Madison after traveling from Greenwood, Ind., every weekend to do research for the book. “I spent every weekend here, and I didn’t want to leave, so I decided to just move here,” she said. She now works in advertising at 96.7 WORX radio.
She became interested in the film legend about five years ago after watching two of Dunne’s movies “A Guy Named Joe” and “The White Cliffs of Dover.” Tarr said she searched on the Internet for an Irene Dunne fan club but couldn’t find one. “I came across an email from her grandson, Mark Shinnick, and I wrote to him asking about a fan club. He didn’t know of any, but told me to start one if I wanted to, so I did,” she said.
Last May when Tarr was in Madison for the unveiling of the Irene Dunne historical marker on Main Street, she noticed there were no pictures of the movie star anywhere in town.
“I saw no pictures of her anywhere, and this is where she grew up. That just surprised me,” she said. It was then she became interested in how Dunne grew up in Madison.
Tarr met with Lakeman, and they came up with the idea for the booklet, which will be unveiled in its pre-edited form at the April gathering. Lakeman said copies of the book will be available at the Jefferson County Historical Society and the Madison-Jefferson County Public Library.

• For more information about Irene Dunne, visit the RoundAbout Madison website at www.RoundAboutMadison.com and click to the March 2006 Archived Articles page. To visit the Irene Dunne online fan club, visit: http://movies.groups.yahoo.com/group/IreneDunneSociety/. To RSVP this April event, contact Amy Tarr at (812) 493-4785.

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