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2005 Dinner and a Movie at the Autry National Center: Whirlwind

The Autry National Center and Gene Autry Entertainment present Dinner and a Movie every Thursday night in July. The fourth and final evening featured Whirlwind.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Karla Buhlman, Jason Meneses, and Hansel Cassadyne

Our fourth and final Dinner and a Movie night at the Autry National Center was a fun family event with delicious food, a special museum tour-talk, and the first ever screening of the digitally restored Gene Autry feature film Whirlwind in the museum’s Wells Fargo Theater.

Like the previous events, the evening began with some of the tastiest BBQ you’ve ever dined on at a museum! Folks enjoyed grilled corn on the cob, BBQ chicken and ribs, Caesar Salad, and dessert choices including luscious lemon bars and Hello Dolly bars. A beverage was also included in the meal. The evening’s activities continued with a special tour in the Museum relating to the film. Autry Museum docent Jim Fryman spoke about the stagecoach in the Opportunity and Conquest Gallery. Jim’s tours were very popular and generated excellent questions from the kids and the grownups.

The pre-show lecture included a talk from Autry Museum Sr. Curator Michael Duchemin discussing his Gene Autry find while researching a future museum exhibit on Death Valley. It seems that Gene played a Pony Express rider in a special theatrical pageant in the 1930s. Then Karla Buhlman introduced our special guest speaker, Gene Autry Biographer Holly George-Warren who talked about Gene Autry the telegraph operator and her research on the famous Gene Autry – Will Rogers meeting in Oklahoma. Karla’s discussion of the 1951 Whirlwind included her observation that there must have been an “every five minutes there needs to be a fistfight” rule for this film!

As this was our last event, the Gene Autry Raffle Drawing with Gene Autry merchandise generously donated by the Autry Museum Store, was especially popular! Six winners were drawn by Karla before the movie and six more winners where drawn after the movie in the Museum Store. The tradition continued of having winners of all ages, each equally thrilled with their prize. The “Big Raffle Prize” of fabulous Gene Autry items valued at $275 was drawn from all the names of the past events. Since you must be present to win, the Museum store was packed with excited fans. Our “Big Raffle Prize” winner was surprised and very pleased to win.

The Autry Museum’s Dinner and a Movie was such a success that we think we’d like to do it again next year. Folks were asked to send the Museum a postcard with their choice of four Gene Autry movies for next July. If you couldn’t make it to the Autry Museum this summer, perhaps we will see you there next time!

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