Next to Quentin Tarantino, Clarence Brown is the most famous film director to have spent his childhood in Knoxville. Brown directed Greta Garbo more than any other director, and called the shots for National Velvet and The Yearling.
Metro Pulse’s Jack Neely has written the best story I’ve seen on Brown’s relationship to Knoxville, and particularly his generosity to UT, in which he funded the Clarence Brown Theatre. Tennessee Wife and I were undergrads on UT’s Film Committee in those days, and we and others were asked to help plan the Clarence Brown Film Festival–Tennessee Wife chaired it. Brown was delighted that students were so interested in his work, and UT’s fundraising officials were also very happy–he eventually gave UT $12 million. Below is a photo of me sitting beside Brown when he was holding forth during the Clarence Brown Film Festival.