Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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December 31, 2012

The top stories of 2012

Stacy Hunter, Lon Morris, new schools make list

(Continued)

JACKSONVILLE — Also this year, a Cherokee County resident found herself on the silver screen.

Kay "Baby" Epperson of Rusk became a familiar name across the country after an April 27 limited national release of “Bernie,” a movie based on true events preceding a controversial court case in the early 1990s. Jack Black starred in the titular role, portraying Bernhardt “Bernie” Tiede II, a former assistant director of a Carthage funeral home found guilty of the murder of local widow, Marjorie Nugent, who'd been found in the bottom of a large freezer in her home.

The 81-year-old Nugent's body was undiscovered for nine months before people began searching for her; the story attracted the attention of Texas Monthly writer Skip Hollandsworth, whose January 1998 article, “Midnight in the Garden of East Texas,” attracted the attention of fellow Texan and director Richard Linklater.

It was Linklater's call for extras in “Bernie” that drew Epperson to an audition in Tyler, where she was told Hollywood “loved her voice” and wanted her as one of movie's town gossips whose commentaries peppered the storyline, Epperson told the Daily Progress in a 2010 interview.

“I was so excited when I found out that I had been cast. It has definitely been one of the funnest things I have done in my entire life,” she said.

- Jo Anne Embleton

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