Josh Nichols
Free Press Staff Writer

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October 14, 2007
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Trumbo sculpture unveiled

Mitzi Trumbo, an aspiring young photographer, wandered around the house one day as a little girl looking for something to take a picture of so she could use up the last of the roll of film in her camera.

She walked into the bathroom where her famous Hollywood screenwriter father, Dalton Trumbo, sat in his favorite writing spot " the bathtub.

Snap.

In his left hand, Trumbo held a long cigarette holder with a butt burning at the end. A cup of coffee sat on a tray, and he wrote on an easel attached to an edge of the tub.

It was Dalton Trumbo in his element, and Mitzi captured the moment.

The Grand Junction community is sure glad she did.

The famous photograph gave local residents a fun piece of subject matter to use in creating a statue to honor the former Grand Junction resident who penned "Johnny Got His Gun," "Spartacus" and "Roman Holiday."

That statue was unveiled Saturday by Utah sculptor Mike Wilson in front of Avalon Theatre in downtown Grand Junction before a crowd of about 200 people.

Mitzi was there to witness the bronzed rendition of the black and white photograph she snapped so many years ago.

She said she was amazed at the memorial and the event organized by people in her father's hometown.

"We all grew up with stories of Grand Junction," she said. "They were funny, wild and wonderful."

Three generations of Trumbos made the trip to Grand Junction for Saturday's unveiling, including son Chris, who made a trip to Grand Junction four years ago to speak at Mesa County Public Library.

That's when a group of local residents, now coined the "Dalton Gang," came up with the idea to reprint the book "Eclipse," which was set in Shale City.

Shale City was loosely based on author Dalton Trumbo's hometown of Grand Junction in the 1930s.

For several decades, the book had driven a wedge between Trumbo and his hometown. Several upstanding members of the Grand Junction community were able to identify themselves in "Eclipse," and they didn't like how they were portrayed.

The book was released at a party two years ago that corresponded with what would have been Dalton Trumbo's 100th birthday. Book sales totaled about $65,000, with proceeds going to the Mesa County Public Library.

Chris Trumbo described his thoughts when he first returned to Grand Junction, and the irony of how the same book that drove a wedge between Trumbo and his hometown, managed to reunite Trumbo and his home community.

"I thought about 'Eclipse' and how art sometimes outlasts us, and how you have a snapshot of Grand Junction and my father's ideas about it," he said. "It's brought Grand Junction and the Trumbos back together again."

When the 100th birthday was over two years ago, the Dalton Gang wasn't ready for it to be over.

"At the end of the event, we did a wrap-up meeting," said Dalton Gang member Miffie Blozvich "We realized we didn't want to stop meeting."

That's when they came up with the idea for a sculpture, they got the OK to proceed from the Trumbo family.

Two years and $45,000 later, the sculpture was unveiled.

Dalton Gang members, Trumbo family members and local fans of Trumbo's work gathered in a tent on the east side of the Avalon Theatre Saturday night to toast arguably the most famous person to have ever called Grand Junction home.

They gathered in the heart of a community that at one time shunned the man who got his start writing in the small town, and went on to Hollywood writing fame.

Before the sheet was pulled from the new sculpture, Mitzi Trumbo delivered a message from her 91-year-old mother, who couldn't make the trip from California to be at Saturday's event in Grand Junction.

"If (Dalton) had been alive, he'd have been absolutely tickled pink," she said.

Reach Josh Nichols at editor@gjfreepress.com.


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The Post Independent Updated Oct 14, 2007 09:15PM Published Oct 14, 2007 09:15PM Copyright 2007 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.