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Movie star native will return to Mount Vernon for showing

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'The Green Promise' will play at APL next week

By Sara Manifold, Community Editor

Among 12,000 entries, a 10-year-old 4-H girl from Mount Vernon nabbed a role that took her to Tinseltown.
Nearly 62 years later, Posey County's “little sweetheart” Jeanne LaDuke will be returning to Mount Vernon for two showings of “The Green Promise,” a film about life in the farm in America.
LaDuke is now a professor at DePaul University and lives in Chicago.
The Posey County Historical Society and Alexandrian Public Library will have two screenings of “The Green Promise,” Thursday, May 5 at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 7 at 2 p.m. Admission and popcorn are free. Tickets are available at the Adult Information Desk at the library.
LaDuke played the role of the young Jesse Wexford, a real-life 4-H member who befriends Susan Matthews played by Natalie Wood.
Directors and casting agents held an auditioning for real 4-H girls, collecting more than 12,000 applications and photos.
Hundreds of the applicants were taken out of the running and only a handful were interviewed.
LaDuke, a member of the Black Township Happy Hearts 4-H Club, and a close friend, Martha Huffer of the Ohio Owlettes 4-H Club were among the 25 girls interviewed for the part.
Four of the 25 girls interviewed were called to Hollywood for screen tests.
When the LaDuke family arrived back in Mount Vernon, the dramatic announcement came over the radio that LaDuke had been chosen for the part.
LaDuke co-starred along side Marguerite Chapman, Walter Brennan, Robert Paige, Natalie Wood, Ted Donaldson, Connie Marshall and Robert Ellis.
The movie was released in March 1949.
After the release date, Mount Vernon had special screenings of the film with appearances by LaDuke at the New Vernon movie theater.
Called “a trooper” while filming on a farm, LaDuke and her family received a city-wide ovation upon their return to the community.
With a parade, the school band, and streets lined with fans and residents, LaDuke was given a key to the city by then mayor James M. Bennett.”
“Thanks everybody, you're all very wonderful,” LaDuke was quoted in the June 3, 1949 issue of the Mount Vernon Democrat.