Retired Marshalltown photographer Pat Apgar once bounced a very young Jean Seberg on his knee when he dated her babysitter.
He was there Thursday when Marshalltown finally took ownership of that girl who would go on to become an international film star.
The first Jean Seberg International Film Festival opened with a red carpet event at the renovated Orpheum Theater. It's the same spot Seberg visited more than 60 years ago as a child to watch movies and dream of becoming a film star.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Confetti is shot into the air by Gary Fulton, left, on the stage at the Orpheum Theater Thursday marking the opening of the Jean Seberg International Film Festival. On stage are members of the Orpheum Guild and Orpheum Director Pip Gordon (behind podium).
"I'm just amazed at what a wonderful job people here have done," Apgar said. "She's finally going to get the recognition that she deserves."
The night included several special guests including Jean's brother, Kurt Seberg, and sister, Mary Ann Shuey. Kurt Seberg looked around after walking into the Orpheum on the red carpet and seem pleased. He commented on what his sister Jean might have thought of this festival.
"I think she might be a little overwhelmed, like I am," Kurt Seberg said. "I'm so happy. I'm just surprised at how nice everything is."
The crowd was ushered into the auditorium where several speakers seemed excited to get the event started.
It was announced that the Marshalltown High School Class of 1956 is restarting the Jean Seberg Drama Award, a scholarship of $500 for a drama student at MHS. Seberg's childhood friend and a member of that class, Lynda Haupert, presented MHS Principal Aiddy Phomvisay with the award to pass along to a student.
"We look forward to honoring students annually with this award," Phomvisay said.
After opening festivities, the crowd settled in for the official start of the festival and a screening of Seberg's first film, "Saint Joan."
Orpheum Director Pip Gordon was honored to have so many special guests that included several of Seberg's friends through the years.
The four-day festival runs through Sunday at the Orpheum with films, road tours and symposiums honoring the actress, who was born in Marshalltown in 1938 and died in Paris in 1979.
This is expected to be the first of many festivals planned on an annual basis at the Orpheum to honor Seberg.
"This is such a great event and I'm so glad to know that it's going to happen again and again and again," said Marshalltown Mayor Gene Beach.