Monday, September 20, 2010

September 2010 meeting recap

At the September meeting of the La Porte County Genealogical Society, fifteen members and guests enjoyed a brief business meeting and a double dose of 20th-century Michigan City film talent.

Gloria Arndt told the story of Charles Emile Arnt, Jr. (1906-1990), the grandson of a dairy farmer and a bank president. The family's Swiss-style lakeside chalet in Long Beach is still there. He graduated from Elston High School in 1924, going ton to Philips Andover and Princeton, where his activities included founding University Players with Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda. After a short stint in banking at the start of the Depression, he went west and became a successful character actor in films including "Ladies Should Listen" and "The Great Gildersleeve" among many others. Later in life he and wife Patricia Brady lived and raised Charolais cattle on Orcas Island in Washington state.

Dorothy Palmer told the somewhat better-known story of Anne Baxter (1923-1985), daughter of Kenneth Baxter and Catherine Wright. Her mother's father was the famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. Anne has been written up in several books including her own autobiography and Carter Manny's A Boyhood Revisited. Anne's father was a businessman, and they left Michigan City when she was four years old, but she kept in touch for years. Supposedly her grandfather built her a stage set at age three, and her parents encouraged her acting career. She made her Broadway debut at age 13 and studied "method acting." She had a contract with 20th Century Fox at age 16. Her first Academy Award came in 1947 in "The Razor's Edge." She called that her "only great performance," and to do it she relived the death of her three-year-old younger brother. Like Charles, she had many television roles. She had three husbands and three daughters, and at one point lived a frontier-like life in the Australian Outback. [CORRECTION: I am informed that she lived in the Australian Bush, which she distinguished from the Outback.] As far as is known she and Arnt never appeared in the same production.

Upcoming programs will be on Chicago's Newberry Library, black history (postponed from February due to weather), and the annual dinner and awards presentation in December.

The society meets at 7 pm on the second Tuesday of every month at the Swanson Center for Older Adults, 910 State St., La Porte. The public is welcome at all meetings. For a list of upcoming programs and more information about the society's activities in awards, research,
publication, and records preservation, visit our web site.

Also at our web site, those who believe they have La Porte County ancestors (and can prove
it!) can find information on how to apply for First Families of La Porte (before December 1840), Pioneer Families (1841-1860), Settler Families (1861-1880), and Civil War Families (1861-1865).

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