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South Bay show features ex-child star

Mary Ruth Murie says the part that got away was Bonnie Blue Butler, Rhett and Scarlett’s daughter in “Gone with the Wind.”

“It was down to two of us,” the former Hollywood child star said. “(My) competition’s agent suggested I was risky. I had a tooth missing. I might lisp. She got the part. I would love to have made that movie.”

Indeed, Mary Ruth made her share of movies — musicals to westerns — including co-starring in 1939 with Tex Ritter in “Song of the Buckaroo,” sharing credits with Jack LaRue in “Gentleman from Dixie” in 1941 and acting with Jimmy Stewart and Burgess Meredith in “Pot O’ Gold” in 1941.

She has no regrets that her mother — who promoted her into the business after the family moved west to escape the Oklahoma Dust Bowl — pulled her out of the Hollywood scene.

“I was the main breadwinner for many years, but mother didn’t believe it was the best environment for a young girl.”

Actually, life got even better. She met her husband, Earle Murie, at Pomona High School. Mesmerized by her student prince, they dated for five years, and then she followed him to Fort Knox, Ky., so they could marry before he left for Korea. They’ll celebrate their 58th on St. Patrick’s Day.

Entertainment has been more than an avocation for the couple. For years, Earle supplemented the family income playing children’s parties as Jingo the Clown.

When they moved to the Central Coast, Mary assumed the role of director and Earle the producer for many Central Coast Children’s Theater productions. Her favorite role for Earle was Ebenezer Scrooge. Her ultimate directorial production was “The Secret Garden.”

Earle’s most satisfying role is longtime real-life elder for the Church of Christ in Los Osos.

They’ve played Pismo Light Opera, Cal Poly, Madonna Inn and San Luis Obispo Little Theater and enjoy directing the San Luis Coastal Unified School District’s Reader’s Theatre for Seniors.

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, the Muries will revive their duet from “Annie Get Your Gun,” Irving Berlin’s “Anything You Can Do,” for the second annual variety show that benefits the South Bay Community Center. Tickets are $10 or $5 for children 12 and younger.

Phyllis Cameron, president of the center, welcomes their return engagement. Also on the program will be singers Jill Garcia and Morro Bay Mayor Janice Peters, musician Shawn Ellis and magician Derek Hood.

And if you’ve never seen Duncan McQueen playing the saw, it’s worth the price of admission. In fact, “Play it again, Sam.”

Reach Judy Salamacha at 801-1422 or jsalamacha@yahoo.com.

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