56 years later–‘Key to the City’ presented again to the Seberg family
After 56 years, the Key to the City of Marshalltown will be back in the hands of a Seberg. In 1956, Mayor Leonard Grimes organized a homecoming parade for Jean Seberg and presented her with the key to the city on behalf of the City and people of Marshalltown. Now, current mayor Tommy Thompson will join Leonard Grimes in doing the honors of presenting the key to Jean’s older sister, Mary Ann Seberg Shuey. The presentation will part of the opening ceremonies on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 7 pm. The key was originally awarded to Jean on Nov. 8, 1956, making it 56 years to the day!
“I've seen and read about that day so often that I feel like I was there, except that I was then a student at Iowa and doubt that I would have been able to get home for that event,” said Mary Ann. “From what I’ve heard, it was a beautiful November day; there were posters and banners on Main Street welcoming and congratulating Jean, and crowds of people cheering as she was driven down the street.”
Mary Ann will definitely be in attendance this time around, as she’ll be accepting the key to the city of Marshalltown on behalf of the entire Seberg family. “I’m pleased to be able to express appreciation to the city, the Orpheum staff and the college for helping to perpetuate Jean's memory with a permanent reminder of her life in Marshalltown,” she said.
Jean Seberg was on her first return trip to Iowa since being selected to play Joan of Arc in late October 1956 from a field of 18,000 applicants. She was met at the airport by then-Governor Leo Hoegh, her parents and other members of her family who marveled at her new pixie hairdo.
Marshalltown Mayor Tommy Thompson will present the key to the city to the Seberg family and also issue a proclamation recognizing the importance of the Jean Seberg Festival here in Marshalltown. “I want to take this opportunity to honor the Seberg family and acknowledge what they have meant to the community throughout the years,” said Thompson. “Jean’s impact on the arts and theater has meant a lot to this city, the state, the country and even the world. It’s very important that the Jean Seberg legacy live on.”
The acting mayor of Des Moines, Charles Iles, also gave Jean a key to the city. She was transported to City Hall in downtown Des Moines, and was given a "pastel mink cost that was lent for the occasion”. She was also presented the Golden Corn Award from the Chamber, given to individuals “on rare occasions for major achievements."
November 8. This day will no doubt be a trip down memory lane for the family, friends and fans of Jean Seberg. Mary Ann still reflects on how happy her sister must have been to experience such a great homecoming on that fall day 56 years ago. When asked about her fondest memory of Jean, Mary Ann said, “Her generous spirit for anyone less fortunate than she was.”
The Jean Seberg International Film Festival is made possible by grants and funding provided by the Community Foundation of Marshall County, Marshalltown Medical and Surgical Center, Marshalltown Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mediacom and Iowa Valley Community College District. Ticket reservations and additional information can be found on the Orpheum Theater Center website at www.ivotc.com.
Photo 1: Jean Seberg accepts the Key to the City of Des Moines from the Acting Mayor of Des Moines, Charles Iles.
Photo 2: Mayor Grimes on the balcony presenting the key to the city to Jean in 1956.
Photo 3: This is the parade Mayor Grimes organized complete with the Bobcat Marching Band. Police escort the convertibles carrying Jean and other members of the Seberg family.