Francis Cheatham, 87, received all of the bells and whistles at the 50-year celebration of the making of the first movie filmed entirely in Tennessee, 20th Century Fox’s “Wild River.”
Cheatham was one of the mere 40 local residents who had speaking parts in the 1960 movie when she played the role of a nanny. She got the part in the movie 50 years ago because of her beautiful singing voice.
“Wild River” is based on a novel written by William Bradford Huie and focuses on a young field administrator of the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) who comes to rural Tennessee to oversee the building of a dam over the Tennessee River.
The screenplay was written by Paul Osborn. “Wild River” was filmed in 1959, released in May of 1960 and featured Hollywood stars: Montgomery Cliff, Lee Remick and JoAnn Fleet, all of whom are now deceased. At the time, local moviegoers could watch the movie and catch a glimpse of hometown stars at the Star Vue Drive-in.
During her recent visit, Cheatham was met at the airport, surrounded by reporters and photographers. A special service was dedicated to her at her home church, she was presented a key of the city and issued a proclamation.
Mrs. Francis Cheatham is the mother of a local celebrated musical master, Dr. Wallace McClain Cheatham.