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Kansas City's Historic Characters Reimagined In Hollywood Films

 Hollywood has created numerous films on Kansas City's Historic Characters; including Amelia Earhart and Jesse James. Whether based on actual events or pure make believe, Film Maker's know how to tell a story. It's no wonder they've picked Kansas City because it has many stories to tell, and you can go behind the scenes of great Kansas City movies by retracing the people and places that inspired them.

Among the movies reimagining the lives of Kansas City natives is "42", which tells the story of baseball legend Jackie Robinson. Known for being the first African American to play Major League Baseball, Jackie also played for the Kansas City Monarchs. Later, he went on to wear the jersey no. 42 for the Dodgers, and make baseball history, which you can discover more about at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City's Jazz District.

The movie, - Kansas City - which is of course set in Kansas City, showcases the Jazz Age of the 1930's; a time of organized crime and political corruption. Starring Jennifer Jason Leigh and Miranda Richardson, Kansas City was written and directed by the late Robert Altman, a KC native. The film was shot in KC’s 18th & Vine Historic Jazz District, where painted streetscapes that served as backdrops for some scenes are still visible today. Also in the district is the American Jazz Museum, which celebrates the artistic, historical, and cultural contributions of the genre.

Follow the path of Jesse James and visit his home while traveling in Missouri. In - The Assassination of Jesse James - by the Coward Robert Ford, Brad Pitt plays the part of the infamous James, which is one of more than 20 movies to feature the American outlaw. You can travel in Jesse's footsteps at the Jesse James Farm & Museum in Kearney, Mo., and his home in St. Joseph, Mo., which features the bullet hole from his assassination. Another noteworthy site is the Jesse James Bank Museum in Liberty, Mo., where the James gang executed the first U.S. daylight bank robbery during peacetime.

Among these movies are - Amelia - that stars Oscar winner Hilary Swank in the role of Atchison, Kansas, native Amelia Earhart. Known as one of the world’s most celebrated aviators, Earhart was the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. The Amelia Earhart Birthplace Museum in Atchison provides an insightful look at the pilot's early life, from childhood mementos to family photos, plus information about her 1937 disappearance. The city’s Amelia Earhart Festival each July celebrates her legacy with aviation displays, aerobatic performances and live concerts.

Discover the life and history of Truman in Independence, Missouri. In 1995, Gary Sinise earned a Golden Globe and an Emmy nomination for his portrayal of Harry S. Truman in the HBO film, - Truman -, that chronicles the politician’s rise to the presidency from his small-town beginnings in Independence, Mo. To experience his life, visit the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, the Truman Home and the Truman Office & Courtroom, which are all located in nearby Independence. Tours are also available of the Truman Farm Home in Grandview, Mo.

The Day After -, filmed in 1983 is a chilling fictional drama starring Jason Robards, Steve Guttenberg and John Lithgow, and explores the effects of a devastating nuclear holocaust on residents of a small town in eastern Kansas. Featuring thousands of local citizens as extras, the made-for-television movie was shot in Lawrence, Kan., Kansas City and Harrisonville, Mo. Broadcast by ABC on Nov. 20, 1983, the film drew 100 million viewers and sparked a national debate on nuclear war.

Another favorite for movie fans is - Ride with the Devil -, starring Tobey Maguire and Skeet Ulrich, which was filmed in and around Kansas City. This drama about the Civil War in the Midwest and Quantrill’s Raid on nearby Lawrence, Kansas. As the movie’s plot suggests, the Kansas City area was a hotbed of activity during the Civil War, and history buffs will still find plenty to keep themselves busy. The U.S. Government recently designated 41 counties in Kansas and Missouri as the Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area in recognition of the Border War between the Kansas Jayhawkers and the Missouri Bushwhackers.

By Leroy Worley

Getting There:

Discover all the festive events, attractions, getaway option for your trip visit the Kansas City Convention & Visitors Association at

Use this link to go to the Missouri Travel Guide.

About The Author

Use this link to learn more about Leroy Worley.