Lights! Camera! East Tennessee! Learn the story of our hometown and its ties to Hollywood

Knox County Public Library and the East Tennessee Historical Society are pleased to present a new feature exhibition entitled Lights! Camera! East Tennessee! on November 19 at the Museum of East Tennessee History (601 S. Gay Street).  

The exhibition explores the magic of moving images from the earliest promotion of Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope in 1895 to hometown folks who've walked the red carpet. East Tennesseans have factored into Hollywood from the glamour days of the golden era to current blockbusters. They've directed Hollywood's greatest stars, written some of the most classic screenplays, and racked up some of the most prestigious awards for outstanding performances on the silver screen. Moreover, the region has been the backdrop to movies starring everyone from Ingrid Bergman to Sam Rockwell, Hal Holbrook, and Burt Reynolds. 

Today, most people know the Clarence Brown Theatre, named for a graduate of Knoxville High School and the University of Tennessee. But few people know his outsized impact on Hollywood as one of MGM's most prominent directors. Brown was famous for working successfully with iconic stars such as Greta Garbo, Clark Gable, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, and Mickey Rooney. Likewise, James Agee is recognized today as a Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, but in his time, he was better known as a pre-eminent film critic and screenwriter. Knoxville was home to Best Oscar winner, Patricia Neal, and Disney's Sleeping Beauty, Mary Costa. The list goes on. 

The exhibition also explores the local movie theatre scene—from the urban movie palaces to the suburban cineplexes—and the story of segregated movie houses. These stories and more will be on display through July 3, 2023. 

Lights! Camera! East Tennessee! is open daily in the Rogers-Claussen Feature Gallery. It was made possible with the generous support from Humanities Tennessee, the Jay Family, Visit Knoxville Film Office, Downtown Knoxville, Arts & Cultural Alliance, and UT Libraries.  

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