Local woman recalls her role in Anatomy of a Murder

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - 60 years after the release of Anatomy of a Murder, Marquette resident, June Jensen was taken on a surprise tour of the Beaumier Heritage Center's exhibit celebrating the film.

"I was surprised because I didn't expect it. I thought we'd come and see the movie and that was it," Jensen shared.

Jensen has a special interest in the exhibit. She spent three weeks on the set of the film as an extra in the several court room scenes.

"We went 8 o’clock in the morning till 6 at night with an hour off for lunch and we got $10 a day," Jensen recalled.

"I was sort of in the middle [of the courtroom] but of course I had dark hair then and dark rimmed glasses," Jensen remembered.

You'll recall the film was based on a local court case and as Dan Truckey, Director, Beaumier Heritage Center outs it, the entire production was shot right here in Marquette County.

"No film had ever actually been made this way. Where it was entirely shot in location not only that it was edited on location," Truckey declared.

Truckey says the filmmakers wanted to capitalize on the success of the book. John Voelker, the book’s author wanted the story to be authentic as possible

"Because of the nature of the way they made the film a lot of people in the community were in the film,” Truckey asserted.

So they had a unique connection to the film unlike most Hollywood productions. And it had a huge, mostly positive impact on the community.

"The Methodist Church was against the film because it was a dirty film at that time. And over half of the chorus was in it," Jensen chuckled.

All Jensen had to do was sit quietly in the courtroom until filming was finished so she says there was some down time during her three weeks on set. During that time she was able to rub elbows with some of Hollywood’s elite names.

"I talked to Orson Bean out by the coffee. They always had coffee in the hallway."

"Oh I got Jimmy Stewart's autograph of course. But he didn't like it in the Upper Peninsula. Of course it was in February and they came in in a snow storm,” Jensen reasoned.

Anatomy of a Murder was released on July 1st 1959 and was an instant hit, grossing over $5.5M. It received seven Oscar nominations and is still touted as one of the biggest films in 1959.

"It just had a huge impact on the community and it’s why it still remembered so fondly today, not only by people who were alive back then but people who are just film buffs and history buffs of Marquette,” Truckey stated.

Jensen didn’t let her 15 minutes of fame affect her personal life. After the movie was released she continued to raise her elementary school aged children with her husband.

The exhibit is free and open to the public through the end of September at NMU’s Beaumier Heritage Center.