On this day in 1966, Disney's live-action feature Follow Me, Boys! was released. Based on the book God and My Country by MacKinlay Kantor, the movie starred Fred MacMurray as a road musician who settles down in a small Midwestern town.
MacMurray's character Lemuel "Lem" Siddons takes a job in a general store. Wanting to impress a pretty co-worker named Vida (played by Vera Miles) and instilling values in the local boys, he starts a Scout troop. (It is one of the few movies where Boy Scouts are key to the film.) Eventually the two marry and adopt a young boy named Whitey (played by Kurt Russell). The Scouts take Lem on a lifelong adventure filled with laughter, triumphs and sadness.
Follow Me, Boys! also starred veteran actress Lillian Gish (as Hetty Seibert) and comic actor Charlie Ruggles (as John Everet Hughes).
MacMurray, already a favorite with movie and televison audiences, had appeared in such Disney films as The Absent-Minded Professor, Bon Voyage, and Son of Flubber.
Vera Miles, best known for her performance in the classic films Psycho and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, had also appeared in Disney films prior to Follow Me, Boys!. Miles appeared in the 1964 A Tiger Walks and the 1965 Those Calloways. She would continue to play Disney roles well into the 1970s.
For actor Kurt Russell, Follow Me, Boys! was his Disney film debut and the beginning of a long career at the studio, as he went on to appear in such films as The Horse in the Gray Flannel Suit, The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes, The Barefoot Executive, and Now You See Him, Now You Don't.
Although a bit corny and sentimental, Follow Me, Boys! struck a responsive chord with moviegoers ... to the tune of a $5.5 million box-office take.
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