Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

February 13, 2014

Sgt. York film draws on expertise of TTU historian


Submitted

CROSSVILLE — Michael Birdwell, Tennessee Tech University history professor, has spent decades studying Sgt. Alvin C. York, the famed hero of World War I.

Birdwell’s latest York-related project, the film “The Showman and the Hero,” will air on the Upper Cumberland’s WCTE for the first time at 8:30 p.m. Feb. 14 and again at 9 p.m. Feb 27.

The film tells the story of the making of the 1941 movie “Sergeant York” and is a collaboration between Birdwelll and Crossville filmmaker John White.

“Sergeant York” was produced by Jesse L. Lasky, founder of Paramount Pictures. It took Lasky 20 years to make the film, which received rave reviews and was nominated for 11 Oscars.

York was one of the most decorated American soldiers of World War I. He received the Medal of Honor for leading an attack on a German machine gun nest, taking 4 guns and killing and capturing many Germans, though historians will never know exactly how many. York was born near Pall Mall, Tenn. After the war, rather than capitalizing on his fame, York dedicated his life to improving education in the Upper Cumberland.