Marion Lawton Hargrove, Jr.
Although not a native Charlottean, Marion Hargrove got his start in journalism at The Charlotte News. He was born in Mt. Olive, NC and moved to several cities before finally coming to Charlotte.
While a student at Central High School, he would spend some free time at the newspaper office and offered to write stories for the paper about his school. He graduated in the Central High School Class of 1938 and was the editor of the Central High Rambler. He later went to work as a paid employee for the paper.
Once he entered the Army, life would never be the same for him. While at Ft. Bragg, he sent stories about his experiences back as news articles. They were so well received by the public that his editor asked for more.
His break came when Maxwell Anderson saw some of his work while visiting Ft. Bragg and contacted Henry Holt & Co., Inc. in New York. The rest was history.
His Charlotte News articles were edited into a book, See Here, Private Hargrove. Hargrove humorously tells about the trials and tribulations of experiencing Army boot camp and not being particularly well suited to it. The book was on the top ten best seller’s list in 1942 and 1943. A movie by the same title that was adapted from the book was released in 1944 and featured Donna Reed, Bob Crosby, Keenan Wynn, Chill Wills, and Robert Walker.
Success did not take him from the war but just gave him more material to include in his future works. Hargrove left Ft. Bragg, traveled and wrote for the Army’s newspaper, Yank, while based out of New York. Now promoted to a corporal, Hargrove writes What’s Next, Corporal Hargrove? It tells about Hargrove and his buddies during the war in France. MGM produced a movie based on this book in 1945, but it was not as successful as Hargrove’s original work. His subsequent book about the radio world was not a hit either.
When he was approached by J. L. Warner to write a comedy about the Army, he went to Ft. Ord to do his research and found out the Army had changed drastically since WW II. The movie about this new army, The Girl He Left Behind, starring Tab Hunter and Natalie Wood, was produced in 1956.
He wrote the script for the 1962 award-winning musical, The Music Man.
Television became an important part of his career with credits including “Maverick,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Colt .45,” and “Johnny Dollar.” He wrote the script for James Garner in the 1959 movie, Cash McCall.
Marion Hargrove died at age 83 on August 23, 2003, in Long Beach, CA.
Photo Credits: (In order of appearance)
Top Left: Photo courtesy of The Charlotte News, October 10, 1942
Top Right: Photo courtesy of The Carolina Room, PLCMC
Bottom Right: Photo courtesy of The Greensboro Daily News, June 19, 1965
Bottom Left: Photo courtesy of The Charlotte Observer, February 26,1980