• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Kirchner finishes KET film on golfer's life, death


WOODFORD COUNTY filmmaker Beth Kirchner's documentary on Marion Miley looks into the fate of the noted golfer, who was murdered in 1941. (Photo submitted))

For the past three years, Beth Kirchner has been working on a documentary celebrating the life and exploring the death of a well-known local golfer named Marion Miley. Her murder at the Lexington Country Club in September 1941 was originally going to be the focus of the Kentucky Educational Television (KET) documentary. Kirchner, who lives in rural Woodford County, soon realized in doing her research that there were fictionalized elements in "Execution Eve," a novel about the crime. So a decision was made not to base the KET documentary on that true-crime novel as originally planned. Instead, "Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story" was broadened to tell the story of a Lexington golfer's life as well as her murder and its aftermath. "It's surprising that someone who was such a celebrity in her day can be so little known today," said Kirchner. She said the tragic circumstances behind Miley's untimely death at age 27 likely "made it difficult (for people) to really remember her - it was too painful." Happening just before Pearl Harbor was bombed, the story of Miley's murder quickly moved off the front pages of newspapers like the New York Times. Kirchner remains startled by how little is known today about a golfer so famous in her day. "And why that would happen became something I really wanted to explore and explain," said Kirchner. So her one-hour KET documentary became much more about Marion Miley and much less about the criminals who ended her life and mortally wounded her mother, the manager of the Lexington Country Club. "Hopefully," Kirchner said, "people will enjoy it. Find it entertaining and informative. And they'll have a perspective and knowledge about an interesting, fascinating person in our community - that maybe they didn't know." A free preview screening of "Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story" will be shown the Kentucky Theatre in Lexington on Wednesday, Sept. 28, at 7:30 p.m. Anyone interested in attending the preview screening must register for free tickets at ket.org/events. "I'm really looking forward to being able to just see reactions (to the documentary) from people," said Kirchner. "Are they engaged? .How are people responding to this?" The KET documentary includes reenactments of the crime - in the room where Marion Miley was murdered - and of her golfing career. "Lexington Country Club was just a fantastic partner in allowing us to recreate her life and the moments of the crime," said Kirchner. She relied on her relationships with actors in the Central Kentucky theater community to stage reenactments for the documentary, which includes a composite of layered images to illustrate Marion Miley's life and golf career. A longtime artistic director at The Woodford Theatre, Kirchner has no immediate plans for her next project, but she did not rule out directing a local stage production at some point in the future. "I don't think my days of directing theater are over," she said with a laugh. ".I haven't lost my love for the theater." KET will broadcast "Forgotten Fame: The Marion Miley Story" on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 8 p.m. Additional broadcasts of the documentary are scheduled during the month of October. For a complete broadcast schedule, visit ket.org.

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