Actors to play historical figures downtown - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Actors to play historical figures downtown

August 20th, 2018 development
Actors to play historical figures downtown

Chandler history will come to life when a cast of characters and live music hits downtown next month.

“ChandLore” will celebrate the history of the city from 5 to 8 p.m. Sept. 8 in front of the businesses in the historic area of downtown, just west of Arizona Avenue along Boston Street and San Marcos Place.

Actors from ImprovMANIA Comedy Club will portray historical figures.

They include Dr. A.J. Chandler, Zora Folley, Harriet “Flip” Fullerton, George T. Peabody, Irene “Animal Girl” Schroeder and Bill Swift.

Besides the actors sharing stories of the people who made an impact on Chandler, a barbershop quartet and banjo player will perform songs from the past.

Downtown Chandler businesses will mark the city’s founding year of 1912 by offering items for $19.12 during the “ChandLore” event.

“They’re acting out their personality and characters,” said Mary Murphy-Bessler, executive director of the Downtown Chandler Community Partnership.

“It is what we call a living history museum,” she added. “You kind of walk from place to place and then have this different experience as you go. That’s what makes downtown and downtown Chandler, in particular, unique is that we have a history and it’s the historical center of the community.”

The colorful historical characters include Dr. Alexander John “A.J.” Chandler, who was a Canadian veterinary surgeon key in building an early system of canals in the area that was then arid desert.

He owned a large ranch by the turn of the century and he sought help from architects and planners in subdividing his ranch and drawing up a town site map.

Folley was a heavyweight boxer who fought Muhammad Ali in 1967, losing the match in a knockout in the seventh round.

He hung up his gloves in 1970 and was appointed to the Chandler City Council. Folley died shortly afterwards in a mysterious swimming pool accident in Tucson. Swift was Folley’s manager.

Fullerton was born in Chandler and attended Stanford University, where she met and dated former President John F. Kennedy.

Later she met her husband, Jim. During World War II she encouraged soldiers in their recovery at the Army Hospital in Pasadena, California. Fullerton also got a pilot’s license.

Peabody was one of the first members Dr. A.J. Chandler appointed to promote the new town, as well as market its agricultural prospects in 1912.

He was also the founder and first secretary of the Chandler Chamber of Commerce. Peabody while in the Philippines in 1942 during World War II had spied on Japanese soldiers and the Japanese put a bounty on his head. He was captured and killed.

Schroeder, along with her older brother and her lover, committed a series of heists while she had her 4-year-old son in tow.

She shot and killed a Pennsylvania patrolman while being pursued after robbing gas stations and stores from Ohio to Tennessee with handguns she and her crew had bought at pawn shops in Pittsburgh.

Shcroeder was captured in Arizona and was the first woman in Pennsylvania to be executed by electric chair.

Wilson was the first Chandler person in the NFL. He had played as quarterback at Chandler High, as well as played baseball, helping the team get to the 1957 state championship.

He was inducted into the Chandler Sports Hall of Fame in 2006. Wilson was drafted by the Montreal Allouettes of the Canadian Football League, the Dallas Texans of the American Football League and the Detroit Lions of the NFL.

He signed with Dallas, which became the Kansas City Chiefs shortly after that and helped the team win the 1962 AFL Championship.

Murphy-Bessler said the Chandler Museum was helpful in making sure the historical characters were portrayed as accurately as possible.

“We’ve been watching our social media page and it has been blowing up with a younger generation; they’re about experiences,” she said.

“Because we’re making history an experience they’re all into it,” she added. “Our whole hope was to capture all ages, that history can be fun.”

It’s free for anyone to watch the performances in downtown Chandler.


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