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Documentary on Marshalltown movie star opens Friday

(Radio Iowa) – A documentary opens this week about the life of an actress who grew up in Marshalltown and was targeted by the FBI for her activism and support of the Black Panther Party. “Movie Star: The Secret Lives of Jean Seberg” opens Friday at the Jean Seberg International Film Festival in Marshalltown.

Fest director Nancy Adams says after appearing in a number of racier, French films, Seberg began to fade from memory in Marshalltown. “Marshalltown had sort of, if not moved on from Jean, then perhaps put her on a shelf for some time,” she says.

One of her breakout movie roles was in the lead of “Joan of Arc” in 1957, and she starred in dozens of other films, including “Breathless” in 1960 and the disaster movie “Airport” in 1970. Seberg lived in Paris until her death in 1979 at the age of 40. Although it was ruled a probable suicide, documentary co-producer Garry McGee, of Elma, argues it should be investigated further.

McGee says, “The question is, yes, an overdose of barbituates, but the alcohol level in her system was so high, that there’s no way she could have administered it to herself.” The documentary opens Friday, two days after what would have been Seberg’s 75th birthday. Adams and McGee appeared as guests on Iowa Public Radio’s show, “Talk of Iowa.”