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August 14, 1995

Roy Kendrick, operator of the Cherokee Strip Antique Mall on the north side of the square, has a background that is interesting enough all by itself to merit a full-scale profile one of these days, but today I want to tell you about someone from Perry who benefitted from his helping hand.

Roy has had careers in several fields, including a stint in Oklahoma City's Channel 9 newsroom as a film and tape editor. Later he was manager and projectionist at our city's last movie palace, the Perry Theatre, which used to be located on Sixth street where the Exchange Bank drive-in now stands.

Roy had an eager young apprentice in the projection booth in those days. She was a 17-year-old movie-struck Perry high school student named Sharron Miller, the oldest of Emaline Miller's five children. Sharron is now an acclaimed director who does feature TV and movie productions. One of her "Cagney and Lacey" episodes won an Emmy a few years back.

Thanks to information provided by Roy, I want to tell you more about Sharron. Later I'll have a piece just about Roy, who by the way always makes me think of actor Hume Cronyn, especially when he is wearing mutton-chop sideburns.

Sharron was the subject of an interesting article in the Los Angeles Times some time back, written by Judith Michaelson, a staff writer for the paper. Roy gave me a copy of the interview and I think you'll be interested in it too. Here's part of it:

"When she was 12, and living in Perry, Okla., she first saw 'Splendor in the Grass,' starring Warren Beatty and Natalie Wood, and knew then that she wanted to grow up to be like Elia Kazan, the movie's director.

"'When I saw that film, it struck some chord in me,' said Sharron Miller, who is the second woman ever to win a Directors Guild of America award, and I just wanted to make that kind of magic.'

"When she was 17 -- and working with the projectionist at the Perry Theatre, the only movie house in town -- she borrowed her boss' 8-millimeter camera and began making movies. I did films about the people I was growing up with, character studies and domestic dramas, films about the land' -- which, as she still says with pride, even after a decade in Los Angeles, is 'prime wheatland.'

"At 29, after working as a film and sound editor to make a living, she got her first paid directing job for two seasons with 'Grizzly Adams,' a former NBC series, 'about a man who goes into the wilderness with a bear.'

"Now she has won a Directors Guild of America award for best directing. The only other woman to have received DGA honors is Perry Miller Adato, a three-time winner in the documentary category for works about Georgia O'Keefe, Pablo Picasso and Carl Sandburg."

The interviewer described Sharron as a slim woman with light brown hair who looks a decade younger than her age, which was 36 when the piece was written. Sharron alluded to the difficulties of achieving success in a field where men control the money, the power and the material for the most part. "But then," the writer noted, "Miller has had quite an example set for her mother, Emaline." Here's some of that part of Sharron's story:

"Emaline Miller was a secretary when Sharron was growing up, the oldest of five children. When she and her husband divorced, Emaline went to work to support her family. 'We lived in a small town and she was raising five children, basically alone,' Sharron relates. 'When I was young, she took whatever job she could get. I was the oldest, and when we all graduated and left home she returned to school, full time. She has recently graduated from law school and is an assistant district attorney in Oklahoma City.'

At first, Sharron says, her mother had abject terror about the prospect of her daughter becoming a director. "But she always taught me to do what I wanted to do, no matter what other people told me. In a small town in Oklahoma they thought I would grow out of it."

Sharron graduated from Oklahoma State in 1971 with a theater arts major and a film she made that had won in a local festival. That led to her being hired as a script girl for a feature film shot in Oklahoma City, called "30 Dangerous Seconds." It was never released. That was when she was in her second year of graduate school at Northwestern University, and when the time came for the crew to return to Hollywood, she was torn. "My mother said, 'It's time to go to Hollywood'," so she did.

Because of her awards, she has a busy schedule directing films for commercial theater and TV releases. She has an eye on doing "small meaningful films that illuminate and elevate the human mind." I'd say both Sharron and Emaline have made all of us homefolks proud, and I know Roy takes special delight in what Sharron has accomplished. Watch for her name when the credits are rolled at the end of some important movies for years to come.