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Adair Countians And Raintree County

This article first appeared in issue 18, and was written by Ed Waggener.

There was a great stir when MGM's Raintree County was filmed in Danville in 1957. There are still stories of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift around that Bluegrass town, and the car accident there which ruined Clift's looks.

It was big news in Columbia, too. Because there were jobs as extras in the movies. One of the extras we've located is Minnie Rubarts, retired Adair County educator and author of the History of Education in Adair County.

"I don't mean to tell you I was a star in the film," Mrs. Rubarts said recently, "but I was in it."

On trips to Lexington, which used to always wend through Danville, somebody would always say, as the car turned the corner at Lexington Avenue and the Burgin Road in Danville, "That's the house which was in Raintree County." Everybody knew the big two story antebellum brick house with the wrought iron fence around it was in Raintree County, but somebody always had to refresh the collective memory.

The house is very familiar to Columbia physician Dr. Phil Aaron. He lived in the Raintree County house when he was a student at Centre College.

"It's the Nelson Rhodes house," Dr. Aaron recalls. "Nelson Rhodes was a prominent attorney in Danville. In fact, he still practices there. His mother was a grandmotherly type lady. During my last semester at Centre, I stayed there."

It was different at the Rhodes house, he recalls. "You didn't just pay your room and board. Mrs. Rhodes had rules. I had to do some chores. And she required us to stay up with the news, which we were to discuss at meals. This may have been influenced by the stories making the rounds that the Kennedy's mealtimes were times when the great issues of the day were discussed. We had some wonderful discussions. Mrs. Rhodes was very sharp, even though she was way up in her 80s."

The Nelson Rhodes house has a somewhat holy mystique in Kentucky film history because one can still conjure up memories of Elizabeth Taylor (Susanna Drake) and Montgomery Clift (John Wickliff Shaughnessy) there. Rock Hudson was there, though he didn't have a role in the movie. But Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, and Agnes Moorehead did act in Raintree County.

Dr. Aaron says that when he was at Centre in the early 60's people were still talking about the Danville premier of Raintree County. People who were extras in the movie were lined up, and the extras would run to show where they were as the movie ran, he said.

This story was posted on 1997-12-24 12:01:01
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