Welcome back for the November 2020 installment at the Church of Christ Celebrities blog! This is our third entry since the blog returned in September; the first two posts brought us to the worlds of antique appraising and, err, magazine publishing. Today’s entry, in turn, takes us to the theater and more specifically to the life and religious affiliation of former child actor Claude Jarman Jr. (1934-).
Jarman may or may not be a household name today, but through the 1940s and 1950s, he was one of the biggest young stars in Hollywood. His role in The Yearling, based on the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings novel, landed him an Academy Juvenile Award in 1946. (The film and its cast and crew were also nominated for best picture, best director, best actor, best actress, best art direction, best color cinematography, and best film editing, taking home the trophies for art direction and cinematography.) A decade later, Jarman appeared in his final film, The Great Locomotive Chase, a Disney picture focusing on a Union attempt to steal a Confederate train during the Civil War. Along the way, Jarman appeared alongside leading stars like John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara in Rio Grande and would work as a producer and film festival organizer after his stint as an actor. One of the more interesting entries in his filmography is the 1949 adaptation of William Faulkner’s “Intruder in the Dust,” a movie largely overlooked upon its original release but one which has garnered more attention lately for being one of the relatively few films of its era to meaningfully address racial injustice. (1)
Jarman, a Nashville native, came up in a discussion earlier this year in the “Nashville Churches of Christ History” Facebook group that I am a member of, with one poster asking if Jarman had been a member at the Hillsboro congregation. A second poster mentioned that Jarman’s mother had been but did not add any details about Jarman specifically.
While I was intrigued by the possible connection between Jarman and Churches of Christ–that is the focus of this blog, after all–I was not able to turn up much one way or the other. The only information I am able to add comes from a Shelbyville Times-Gazette blog comments section, of all places. In 2013, blogger Steve Mills asked readers for memories about one Dr. J.K. Freeman from the Bell Buckle area, and he mentioned that Freeman was the grandfather of Jarman. A commenter on the blog noted that the late Dr. Freeman was “a highly respected member of the community, and a long-time elder at the BB Church of Christ.” (2)
That single quotation is the extent of what I was able to locate, but assuming that the Facebook and blog commenters were correct, there was at least a multi-generational connection between Jarman’s family and the Churches of Christ, although I don’t have any more specific information on Jarman’s own religious affiliation (if any). Still, though, this makes the connection quite possible, which is more than we can say with some entries.
That will do it for this short post; check back in a month for our next entry, the last of 2020, which will spotlight tennis player and competitor in the 1973 “Battle of the Sexes,” Bobby Larimore Riggs. See you then!
(1) G. Allen Johnson, “Star presents a new look at 1949 film about a lynching,” San Francisco Chronicle, May 30, 2017, accessed October 1, 2020, https://www.sfchronicle.com/movies/article/Star-presents-a-new-look-at-1949-film-about-a-11183938.php.
(2) Steve Mills, “Request to explore Bell Buckle’s past,” Bedford Ramblings, May 2, 2013, accessed October 1, 2020, https://www.t-g.com/blogs/stevemills/entry/52956. Scroll down to the comments section for the above quotation.