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Best New Movies Coming Out In Summer 2021: Movies You Need to See



Best New Movies Coming Out In Summer 2021: Movies You Need to See

The blockbusters are (sorta) back!

For a long time, summer meant blockbusters: big, splashy movies filled with giant, famous faces that you go see in a packed, buzzing theater on a hot night. Last year, with movie theaters around the world closing their doors and unplugging the popcorn machines as the pandemic upended the film industry, the “summer movie” became a much more nebulous concept. Now, with theaters across the country reopening in part or in full, and major blockbuster drivers, such as Warner Bros. and Disney, employing a hybrid strategy of releasing movies online and in cineplexes, it looks like the “summer movie” is (kinda? sorta?) back. Exciting (potentially)!

We’re excited about the prospect of watching movies in theaters again, and, regardless if we end up seeing them on our TVs or the big screen, it helps that many of the upcoming releases feel like must-sees. To help you make sense of the coming months, we’ve scoured the calendar from May through Labor Day and highlighted the 38 most essential streaming titles, major studio releases, and potential under-the-radar gems coming your way soon.

ALSO READ: The Best Movies of 2021 (So Far)

wrath of man

United Artists Releasing

Wrath of Man

Release date: May 7 in theaters
Cast: Jason Statham, Holt McCallany, Jeffrey Donovan, Josh Hartnett
Director: Guy Ritchie (The Gentlemen)
Why we’re excited: The reliably aggro Jason Statham plays a man with a mysterious past who gets hired to protect a cash truck in this remake of a 2004 French movie with the much better title Cash Truck. It comes from Guy Ritchie, who can either make movies that are excessively charming (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) or excessively dull (King Arthur: Legend of the Sword). We’re hoping this is more of the former rather than the latter. Plus, Post Malone is in this!
(Watch the trailer)

woman in the window


The Woman in the Window

Release date: May 14 on Netflix
Cast:  Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger
Director: Joe Wright (Darkest Hour)
Why we’re excited: This adaptation of a controversial bestseller was shot in 2018 and originally scheduled to come out in October of 2019. Some combination of difficult test screenings, the Disney-Fox deal, and the pandemic caused a number of delays. Now it’s coming to Netflix, so we can finally find out if it’s a fun Hitchcock-ian mystery or a total mess.
(Watch the trailer)




Release date: May 14 in theaters
Cast: Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Max Minghella, Marisol Nichols
Director: Darren Lynn Bousman (Saw IV)
Why we’re excited: Chris Rock came up with the idea for the latest entry in the ever-growing Saw franchise, which spawned eight previous movies, so you can expect it to be slightly different from the stomach-churning nü-metal horror of the series’ peak. At the same time, director Darren Lynn Bousman helmed three previous Saw movies, known for their convoluted mythology and terrifying traps, and the original producers are still involved. And Samuel L. Jackson is in it. This could be a wild one.
(Watch the trailer)

those who wish me dead

Warner Brothers

Those Who Wish Me Dead

Release date: May 14 in theaters and on HBO Max
Cast: Angelina Jolie, Nicholas Hoult, Aidan Gillen, Jon Bernthal
Director: Taylor Sheridan (Wind River)
Why we’re excited: Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan looks like he’s firmly in his wheelhouse with this adaptation of a novel by Micahel Koryta, which tells the story of a teenager who witnesses a murder and goes on the run in a rapidly burning Montana forrest with a pair of assassins on his tale. Don’t you hate when that happens?
(Watch the trailer)

army of the dead


Army of the Dead

Release date: May 21 on Netflix
Cast: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Matthias Schweighöfer
Director: Zack Snyder (Man of Steel)
Why we’re excited: While he was putting the finishing touches on the Snyder cut, the Justice League director was also shooting this Vegas-set heist movie for Netflix, which will return him to his zombie roots. Dave Bautista starring in an Ocean’s Eleven meets Dawn of the Dead mash-up? Sign us up.
(Watch the trailer)

a quiet place part ii

Paramount Pictures

A Quiet Place Part II

Release date: May 28 in theaters
Cast: Emily Blunt, Millicent Simmonds, Noah Jupe, Cillian Murphy
Director: John Krasinski (A Quiet Place)
Why we’re excited: 2018’s A Quiet Place was the type of slick, efficient horror movie with a satisfying ending that doesn’t really demand a sequel. The bare-bones “mythology” of the premise could be summed up in the goofy “What is the weakness?” question scrawled on a whiteboard in the background of the first movie. Still, unnecessary horror sequels can surprise you, and Emily Blunt is returning along with director John Krasinski. Maybe this one will be less quiet?
(Watch the trailer)


Walt Disney Pictures


Release date: May 28 in theaters and Disney+
Cast: Emma Stone, Emma Thompson, Mark Strong
Director: Craig Gillespie (I, Tonya)
Why we’re excited: We probably don’t need a Cruella de Vil origin story. Still, we’ll take Oscar-winner Emma Stone mugging about in fantastic costumes if that’s what we’re getting. This prequel set in the London 1970s punk scene is directed by I, Tonya’s Craig Gillespie, adding a bunch more potentially intriguing question marks to the endeavor.
(Watch the trailer)

the conjuring the devil made me do it

Warner Brothers

The Conjuring: Devil Made Me Do It

Release date: June 4 in theaters and on HBO Max
Cast: Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson, Ruairi O’Connor, Sarah Catherine Hook
Director: Michael Chaves (The Curse of La Llorona)
Why we’re excited: First of all, you have to respect the third Conjuring movie for ditching the classier numbered titling of its previous sequel and going with the much more fun Devil Made Me Do It subtitle. (One can only imagine what the devil will make them do!) James Wan won’t be handling directing duties here, but stars Vera Farminga and Patrick Wilson are back to do some more creepy sleuthing as real-life paranormal investigators Ed and Lorraine Warren.
(Watch the trailer)

in the heights

Warner Brothers

In the Heights 

Release date: June 11 in theaters and on HBO Max
Cast: Anthony Ramos, Melissa Barrera, Corey Hawkins, Lin-Manuel Miranda
Director: Jon M. Chu (Crazy Rich Asians)
Why we’re excited: Lin-Manuel Miranda made his mark before Hamilton with this musical ode to the neighborhood where he was raised. Now it comes to the screen with rising star Anthony Ramos as protagonist Usnavi, the character Miranda played on Broadway. We’re most excited to see Crazy Rich Asians director Jon M. Chu back in Step Up mode, filming intricately choreographed, massive dance sequences on New York City streets.
(Watch the trailer)

Hitman's Wife's Bodyguard


Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard

Release date: June 16 in theaters
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Samuel L. Jackson, Salma Hayek, Frank Grillo
Director: Patrick Hughes (The Hitman’s Bodyguard)
Why we’re excited: This sequel to 2017’s action comedy hit The Hitman’s Bodyguard, which found Ryan Reynolds’ bodyguard teaming up with Samuel L. Jackson’s hitman for some banter and bloodshed, reunites the two leads, but throws a curveball in there: a wife! The wife of the title is played by Salma Hayek, and, judging from the trailer, there will be a lot of explosions, shoot-outs, and Ryan Reynolds quips.
(Watch the trailer)




Release date: June 18 on Netflix
Cast: Kevin Hart, Alfre Woodard, Melody Hurd, Anthony Carrigan
Director: Paul Weitz (Bel Canto)
Why we’re excited: Kevin Hart hasn’t gotten too many chances to show off his serious side throughout his career, but this drama, an adaptation of a memoir by the writer Matthew Logelin, should give the actor a chance to show his range as a father dealing with a painful loss. Director Paul Weitz, who co-directed 2002’s Hugh Grant coming-of-age story About A Boy and directed 2015’s charming comedy Grandma, clearly knows his way around stories of familial struggle.

the spark brothers

Focus Features

The Sparks Brothers

Release date: June 18 in theaters
Director: Edgar Wright (Baby Driver)
Why we’re excited: This long and loving documentary from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and Baby Driver filmmaker Edgar Wright will serve as an introduction to the weird and wonderful world of the experimental pop band Sparks, a duo made up of Ron and Russell Mael. If you’ve already been indoctrinated into their esoteric universe, it offers a rare look into their process and evolution. If you’re a newbie, it will make you a fan.

fast 9

Universal Pictures


Release date: June 25 in theaters
Cast: Vin Diesel, Charlize Theron, Michelle Rodriguez, John Cena, Sung Kang
Director: Justin Lin (Fast & Furious 6)
Why we’re excited: The director of the greatest run of Fast & Furious movies is back for another round, as Dom Torretto and his crew team up once again to face off against his one weakness: his own family. Yes, we are expected to believe Vin Diesel and John Cena are brothers in this. Importantly: HAN IS BACK.
(Watch the trailer)

false positive


False Positive

Release date: June 25 on Hulu
Cast: Ilana Glazer, Justin Theroux, Pierce Brosnan Director: John Lee
Why we’re excited: This eerie horror movie about pregnancy represents a change of tone for Broad City star Ilana Glazer, who both co-wrote the project and stars as a young professional encouraged to visit a creepy fertility clinic by her doctor husband (Justin Theroux). After being inseminated by a cult like figure played by Pierce Brosnan, she starts to think that something is amiss with her marriage and her child-to-be. It’s a riff on Rosemary’s Baby for the wellness mommy age.




Release date: June 30 in theaters
Cast: Taylour Paige, Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, Colman Domingo
Director: Janicza Bravo (Lemon)
Why we’re excited: We’ve been raving about this film ever since it premiered way back at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Now we’re thrilled that this epic saga based on an incredible Twitter thread about two strippers on a disastrous road trip is finally hitting theaters. Wanna hear a story about how Zola and this bitch fell out? We definitely do.
(Watch trailer)

america the motion picture


America: The Motion Picture 

Release date: June 30 on Netflix
Cast: Channing Tatum, Jason Mantzoukas, Olivia Munn, Killer Mike
Director: Matt Thompson
Why we’re excited: You might remember some of the details of America’s Revolutionary War from history class, but we’re guessing that version didn’t include a robot-centaur and laser blasters. This R-rated, animated retelling of America’s founding comes from Matt Thompson, who worked on Archer and co-created Adult Swim’s Sealab 2021, so expect lots of wild imagery, ridiculous action, and barbed wit.

summer of soul

Searchlight Pictures/Hulu

Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)

Release date: July 2 on Hulu
Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Why we’re excited: The Roots’ Questlove has assembled a treasure trove of never-before-seen footage of the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, featuring performances from Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, and Sly and the Family Stone among many many others. Not only is Summer of Soul an invigorating concert feature, it’s an important historical document.
(Watch trailer)

the tomorrow war

Paramount Pictures/Amazon

The Tomorrow War

Release date: July 2 on Amazon Prime
Cast: Chris Pratt, Yvonne Strahovski, J.K. Simmons, Betty Gilpin
Director: Chris McKay (The Lego Batman Movie)
Why we’re excited: This action blockbuster starring Guardians of the Galaxy and Jurassic Word star Chris Pratt was supposed to arrive in theaters in December of 2020 via Paramount, but got delayed because of the pandemic and eventually the company sold the title to Amazon. (Recent Amazon premieres Coming 2 America and Without Remorse followed a similar route.) It’s set in a dystopian future where humans are getting wiped out in a battle with aliens, so the government decides to pull soldiers from the past to fight in the war.

black widow

Marvel Studios

Black Widow

Release date: July 9 in theaters and Disney+
Cast: Scarlett Johanssen, Florence Pugh, Rachel Weisz, David Harbour
Director: Cate Shortland (Berlin Syndrome)
Why we’re excited: Nearly 10 years after the Internet began clamoring for a standalone film featuring the MCU’s first female Avenger, we’re finally getting one. Judging from the trailers, Black Widow looks like a lot of shooty, kicky, punchy, Russian spy fun. Not to mention the story takes place between Civil War and Infinity War, so you might want to watch out for a familiar face or two you may not expect.
(Watch the trailer)

the forever purge

Universal Pictures

The Forever Purge

Release date: July 9 in theaters
Cast: Ana de la Reguera, Josh Lucas, Tenoch Huerta, Leven Rambin
Director: Everardo Gout
Why we’re excited: The dystopian idea behind The Purge series is that there’s one night a year where all crime, including murder, is legal. According to the title of the latest entry, the follow-up to 2018’s brutal prequel The First Purge, the Purge now lasts… forever? That news does not sound good for the weary citizens for the Purge-verse, but it could make for a pretty intense movie.


Sony Pictures


Release date: July 16 in theaters
Cast: Camila Cabello, Billy Porter, Minnie Driver, John Mulaney
Director: Kay Cannon (Blockers)
Why we’re excited: Camila Cabello playing a modern musical Cinderella with Pose breakout star Billy Porter as her Fairy Godmother? Not to mention Minnie Driver playing a queen and John Mulaney—yes, John Mulaney—as a mouse footman? Sounds absolutely bonkers. We love it.

the night house

Searchlight Pictures

The Night House

Release date: July 16 in theaters
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Sarah Goldberg, Stacy Martin, Evan Jonigkeit
Director: David Bruckner (The Ritual)
Why we’re excited: This unsettling haunted house tale, which follows a widow (Rebecca Hall) grieving her husband in a sleek home he designed himself, was one of the creepier movies at Sundance back in 2020. Director David Bruckner, who helmed Netflix’s sturdy hike-gone-wrong thriller The Ritual, knows how to make a movie like this tick.
(Watch the trailer)

space jam

Warner Brothers

Space Jam: A New Legacy 

Release date: July 16 in theaters and on HBO Max
Cast: LeBron James, Sonequa Martin-Green, Don Cheadle, Bugs Bunny
Director: Malcolm D. Lee (Night School)
Why we’re excited: While we’re not getting the version of a Space Jam sequel directed by avant-garde filmmaker Terence Nance, which sounded very cool, we’re still ready to slam with this new saga of basketball starring LeBron James and the Looney Tunes. Welcome to the jam, indeed.
(Watch the trailer)

Focus Features

Roadrunner: A Film About Anthony Bourdain

Release date: July 16 in theaters
Director: Morgan Neville (Won’t You Be My Neighbor?)
Why we’re excited: Renowned documentarian Morgan Neville, who made the loving tribute to Mister Rogers Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, turns his focus to Anthony Bourdain. We’re still in mourning for the late television host, chef, and eater extraordinaire so we can’t wait to spend more time with him.




Release date: July 23 in theaters
Cast: Gael García Bernal, Vicky Krieps, Rufus Sewell, Ken Leung
Director: M. Night Shyamalan (Glass)
Why we’re excited: The Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan looks like he’s tackling a great micro-genre here: the “there’s something creepy about this beautiful beach” movie. A family shows up on a seemingly idyllic spot of sandy land and find that it makes them age rapidly. Wanna bet there’s a twist?
(Watch the trailer)

jungle cruise

Walt Disney Pictures

Jungle Cruise

Release date: July 30 in theaters
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Emily Blunt, Edgar Ramirez
Director: Jaume Collet-Serra (The Commuter)
Why we’re excited: Based on Disneyland’s beloved river cruise theme park ride, the Jungle Cruise movie brings the tale to life, dumping Emily Blunt and The Rock in the middle of the Amazon, where they must fight off dangerous wild creatures and a supernatural threat. Intrigued to see how Jaume Collet-Serra, the director of tense thrillers like The Shallows and… Orphan… handles this.
(Watch the trailer)

the green knight


The Green Knight 

Release date: July 30 in theaters
Cast: Dev Patel, Alicia Vikander, Joel Edgerton, Sarita Choudhury
Director: David Lowery (The Old Man & The Gun)
Why we’re excited: One can never have enough stylized riffs on Arthurian legend. This A24-produced medieval fantasy film from A Ghost Story and Pete’s Dragon filmmaker David Lowery finds Dev Patel picking up a sword and shield to play Sir Gawain, the nephew of King Arthur, as he sets out to do battle with the mysterious Green Knight of the title. Expect contemplative shots of nature and medieval combat.
(Watch the trailer)

suicide squad

Warner Brothers

The Suicide Squad

Release date: August 6 in theaters and on HBO Max
Cast: Margot Robbie, Idris Elba, John Cena, Joel Kinnaman
Director: James Gunn (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Why we’re excited: No, you’re not experiencing superhero movie déjà vu. There was a movie from 2016 called Suicide Squad, which starred Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared Leto as the Joker. Robbie returns as Harley Quinn, who she played in the recent Birds of Prey movie, but most of the rest of the original movie’s cast is gone and writer/director David Ayer has been replaced with James Gunn, who will hopefully find a take on these characters that doesn’t require another “soft reboot” in five years.
(Watch the teaser)

kissing booth 3


The Kissing Booth 3

Release date: August 11 on Netflix
Cast: Joey King, Jacob Elordi, Joel Courtney, Molly Ringwald
Director: Vincent Marcello (The Kissing Booth)
Why we’re excited: Netflix’s teen phenomenon is finally coming to an end with a third chapter. Will Elle and Noah end up together? Will there be another dance contest? And what about…a final kissing booth?

free guy

20th Century Studios

Free Guy

Release date: August 13 in theaters
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Jodie Comer, Joe Keery, Lil Rel Howery
Director: Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum)
Why we’re excited: This frenzied-looking action-comedy chronicles the existential challenges of an NPC (Ryan Reynolds) in an open-world video game called Free World. Will Grand Theft Auto and Zelda obsessives want to leave the house to see Deadpool wisecrack his way through a Ready Player One-like scenario they can’t play themselves? It could be a tough sell. Still, the mix of snarky gags and goofy adventure worked for both the Jumanji movies in recent years, so it might work here.
(Watch the trailer)


United Artists Releasing


Release date: August 13 in theaters
Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker, Audra McDonald, Marlon Wayans
Director: Liesl Tommy
Why we’re excited: Jennifer Hudson was chosen to star in this Aretha Franklin biopic by Franklin herself, which must account for something. Directed by Liesl Tommy, a renowned theater director making her first foray into feature films, we can’t wait to see how the Oscar-winning Hudson interprets one of the greatest musicians of all time.
(Watch the trailer)


Apple TV+


Release date: August 13 on Apple TV +
Cast: Emilia Jones, Troy Kotsur, Marlee Matlin, Daniel Durant
Director: Sian Heder
Why we’re excited: Arguably the biggest hit out of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, CODA is a stirring, tear-inducing drama about a teen who is the only hearing member of her family. Ruby (Emilia Jones) acts as interpreter for her close knit unit in a Massachusetts fishing community, yet conflict arises when she decides to pursue her love of singing, which takes her away from the family business. With wonderful performances it’s sure to be embraced by those who see it.

dont breathe 2

Sony Pictures Releasing

Don’t Breathe 2

Release date: August 13 in theaters
Cast: Stephen Lang
Director: Rodo Sayagues
Why we’re excited: 2016’s captivity thriller Don’t Breathe was one of the more intense and disturbing horror films in recent years. This sequel finds the great Stephen Lang returning as the villainous “Blind Man” and, at least from the plot description, it sounds like he has even more of a central role this time. Director Rodo Sayagues served as a co-writer on the first movie, and the first movie’s director Fede Álvarez (also responsible for 2013’s brutal Evil Dead remake) is producing and co-wrote the script.




Release date: August 27 in theaters
Cast: Yayha Abdul-Mateen II, Teyonah Parris, Colman Domingo
Director: Nia DaCosta (Little Woods)
Why we’re excited: Nia DaCosta’s spiritual sequel to the 1992 horror classic comes with a script co-written by Jordan Peele and a trailer that will definitely freak you out. (Don’t say his name!) This is one of the most anticipated movies of last year that got bumped because of the pandemic, and we remain really pumped to see how DaCosta and company have translated this story about racism and gentrification for the 21st Century.
(Watch the trailer)

Reminiscence image

Warner Brothers


Release date: August 20 in theaters and on HBO Max
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Ferguson, Thandiwe Newton, Daniel Wu
Director: Lisa Joy
Why we’re excited: Westworld co-creator Lisa Joy dreamed up this science-fiction thriller about a veteran (Hugh Jackman) who works for a company that allows customers to relive any of their memories. Of course, he falls in love with one of his clients (Rebecca Ferguson) and then discovers she may have a dark past. It sounds like a twist-filled brainteaser in the mold of Eternal Sunshine, Inception, or, you know, Westworld.

he's all that


He’s All That

Release date: August 27 on Netflix
Cast: Addison Rae, Tanner Buchanan, Rachael Leigh Cook, Madison Pettis
Director: Mark Waters (Mean Girls)
Why we’re excited: The ’90s teen rom-com hit She’s All That gets a gender-swapped remake in this new Netflix offering, which features TikTok star Addison Rae in the Freddie Prinze Jr. role of a popular teen tasked with transforming an outcast (Cobra Kai’s Tanner Buchanan) into a prom king. The original’s star Rachael Leigh Cook will have a role and the script comes from She’s All That writer R. Lee Flemming Jr., but will it still use the Sixpence None the Richer song? That’s the important question.

Jackass 4

Release date: September 3 in theaters
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Steve-O, Dave England, Ehren McGhehey
Director: Jeff Tremaine (Jackass)
Why we’re excited: It’s been over a decade since Jackass 3D launched itself into theaters and almost two decades since the first movie drove a shopping cart into the American imagination. Time flies when you’re making your buddies throw up. Somehow, these guys are still punishing their bodies for our collective amusement. We can’t wait to see what fresh trouble they’ve been getting into.

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Marvel Studios

Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Release date: September 3 in theaters
Cast: Simu Liu, Michelle Yeoh, Awkwafina
Director: Destin Daniel Cretton (Just Mercy)
Why we’re excited: It’s about time for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to have its first Southeast Asian superhero on the silver screen, and there are few better heroes to pick than Shang-Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, who has the power to duplicate himself into multiple Shang-Chis, as well as the knowledge of nearly every martial art. The Avengers have no idea what’s coming.
(Watch the trailer)

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Adrienne Shelly’s widower confronts her killer in new film



Adrienne Shelly's widower confronts her killer in new film

Andy Ostroy treasures the photographs he’s taken over the years of his daughter, Sophie. They capture the milestones in her life: first days at school, triumphs in soccer and even her attempts to ride a bicycle without training wheels.

In a heartbreaking scene from “Adrienne,” the documentarypremiering Wednesday on HBO — Ostroy directed about his late wife, actress Adrienne Shelly, he shows some of those pictures to the man who killed Sophie’s mother when the girl was just two.

“Adrienne missed a lot,” Ostroy tells Diego Pillco during an emotionally charged visit to the killer’s prison in upstate New York.

Dropping Sophie’s images onto a table in turn, he describes each one in detail. “This is her first birthday after her mom left her,” Ostroy notes.

The shocking death of rising star Adrienne Shelly was reported on the front page on November 3, 2006.
The shocking death of rising star Adrienne Shelly was reported on the front page of The Post on Nov. 3, 2006.

The next photo he puts in front of the inmate shows Sophie as a teenager, laughing as she eats a slice of cake. “Her most recent birthday — still no mom.”

It’s impossible to tell whether or not Pillco is moved by Ostroy’s commentary since the 34-year-old former construction worker is impassive throughout. Finally, while being led back to his cell, he mumbles the words “I’m sorry” in Spanish.

As Ostroy later admits in the movie: “My life will always be about grief. That will always be the ghost in the room. That love that I had at that time didn’t go anywhere. It froze. It’s like she is frozen in time.”

The documentary finds that Shelly’s personal life and career could not have been happier, busier or more promising when she was killed, at age 40, on Nov. 1, 2006.

The Queens-born actress, writer and director, who married Ostroy 12 years earlier, had starred in more than 20 films. They ranged from indie productions such as 1989’s “The Unbelievable Truth” to more mainstream movies like 2005’s “Factotum” with Matt Dillon, Lili Taylor and Marisa Tomei.

Sadly, Shelly didn’t live to see the runaway success of her passion project, “Waitress” — the quirky drama that she wrote, directed and co-starred in alongside Keri Russell. The movie was released to critical acclaim a year after her murder and has since been adapted as a hit Broadway musical.

Shelly, who lived with Ostroy and Sophie in the West Village, did most of her writing away from the family home, in a nearby Abingdon Square apartment that she rented.

Pillco, then a 19-year-old illegal immigrant from Ecuador, was helping renovate another apartment in the building in November 2006.

Shelly with daughter Sophie, who was just a toddler when the actress was killed.

In the documentary, he tells Ostroy through a translator that he “needed money” and had been roaming the property looking for cash and other things to steal. He snuck into Shelly’s office and rifled through her purse, only to be caught red-handed by the five-foot-two-inch mom.

“The lady came out and she ran after me,” Pillco recalls on camera, sparing none of the gruesome details as Shelly’s widower listens in horror. “And when she started yelling at me, the only word that I heard her say was ‘police.’”

As Shelly went to seize her phone, he says, he grabbed her from behind, covered her mouth and told her not to call the cops.

Shelly in Abingdon Square in the West Village.
Shelly in Abingdon Square in the West Village. She was killed in the nearby apartment she used for an office.
The New York Post

“I lost it and I was choking her with my hand,” continues the killer, who pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter and was sentenced to 25 years for his crimes. “At the same time, I was covering her mouth so that she wouldn’t make noise. I took my hand off and I let her go.”

Both Ostroy and the translator look repulsed as Pillco goes on to reveal how he knew the actress was dead: “I saw that her lips were blue so I thought: ‘Oh, I killed her.’”

Pillco explains how he dragged Shelly to the bathroom and fashioned a noose from a bedsheet — then hung her from the shower curtain rail so to make it look “like she had committed suicide.”

After a long pause, Ostroy leans forward and asks: “Did you think you’d gotten away with it?”

“Yes,” Pillco replies.

But he hadn’t. Detectives first claimed that Shelly had taken her own life but that was immediately challenged by Ostroy and other family members who refused to believe it.

Shelly was born on June 24, 1996, in Queens, and raised with two brothers. Her father, Sheldon Levine, died suddenly when she was 12. A gifted singer and dancer, she began performing around the age of 10 — and later dropped out of Boston University to pursue acting in Manhattan. Shelly’s breakthrough role came in 1989 in independent filmmaker Hal Hartley’s “The Unbelievable Truth,” which led to other ingenue roles in indie movies.

Elaine Langbaum, Shelly’s mom, remembers in the documentary not being being able to accept that her daughter had committed suicide.

Shelly's passion project was writing, directing and starring in "Waitress."
Shelly’s passion project was writing, directing and starring in “Waitress.”
Fox Searchlight

“This was the time of her life,” Langbaum says, referring to Shelly’s devotion to Sophie, whom she’d given birth to at age 38. “This was it — the time she’d wanted her whole life. And she wanted to kill herself?”

But Pillco was quickly fingered for the murder. Detectives found a shoe print in Shelly’s bathtub that was identical to one discovered in the dust of the downstairs apartment being renovated — and the tread matched Pillco’s sneakers. After being arrested, and he was arrested, he confessed within hours.

Retired NYPD homicide detective Irma Rivera-Duffy, who became a friend of Shelly’s family and appears in the documentary, reveals that Pillco admitted his guilt after she told him the victim’s toddler was the same age as his own niece.

“After I got the confession, driving in my car, I got a nice cold chill in the back of my neck and the hairs stood up,” Rivera-Duffy tells Ostroy in the documentary. “I felt it was your wife thanking me for having had this guy confess so that your daughter didn’t have to go through life thinking it was a suicide.”

Ostroy, a producer and director who previously owned a marketing company for 20 years, recalls in the film how he “lost control of my body and dropped to the floor and started crying” when the lead detective told him of Pillco’s confession.

“It was everything I wanted to hear,” he says. “There was no way Adrienne killed herself. Suicide simply wasn’t possible. She was the happiest that I’d ever seen her.”

Diego Pillco admitted to killing Adrienne Shelly after she threatened to call police after catching him going through her belongings.
Diego Pillco pled guilty to first-degree manslaughter in the death of Adrienne Shelly and is now serving 25 years in prison.

The documentary opens with a home video recorded at a low-key Halloween party with friends on Oct. 31, 2006. It shows two-year-old Sophie in a princess dress and Shelly noting that the toddler’s favorite song is “Twist And Shout.”

“Every horrible day in history has a much happier day before,” Ostroy theorizes in the film. “This [Halloween] was ours. I went to bed that night the luckiest guy alive. By the next night, I was living the worst nightmare imaginable.”

Now 62, he has instant recall of both the dramatic and seemingly trivial details of Nov. 1, 2006. He was grateful that he left home later than usual for the office and got to spend a little more time with his family. Then he dropped off Shelly at Abingdon Square before driving to his own place of work.

“I just watched her walk away into the building and that was the last time I saw her,” he says in the movie.

Widowed husband XXXX and daughter XXX look through a high school yearbook with Shelly.
Widower Andy Ostroy and daughter Sophie look through Shelly’s high school yearbook.

Ostroy had a busy day at work but says there was unusual “radio silence” from his wife, whom he couldn’t reach on email, cell or landline. Their nanny hadn’t heard from her either. “It was incredibly atypical,” he recalls. “[I had] this intuition that something really awful has happened.”

A close friend drove him to Adrienne’s building in the late afternoon. When his wife didn’t answer the intercom, he went up to the apartment and found the door unlocked. “It just popped open, and that’s when the real panic set in,” Ostroy says. “It was just palpable. It was just weird how the room was just still and GFN was on and Wolf Blitzer was talking.”

As he moved through the eerie space to look for his wife, dark forces seemed to be at work. “It was like there was evil in that room,” he remembers. “Really, that’s how I felt. I felt there had been a monster in the room.”

Then he found her body in the bathroom.

Andy Ostroy and Adrienne Shelly while visiting Paris.
Ostroy and Shelly in Paris.

“I remember thinking in that moment: ‘Is this really happening?’ I was supposed to go there and find her [Adrienne] outside saying, ‘Oh Andy, I’m so sorry,’” he recalls. “I wasn’t supposed to find her dead.”

And then he had to explain to little Sophie why her mother was no longer there. “I mean what do you say to a kid who can’t handle much?” he asks. In the end, he told the toddler: “Mommy died. Her body stopped working. She’s not coming home anymore.”

Tearing up in the documentary, Ostroy recounts Sophie’s sorrowful reaction. “She walked to the window and turned to me and said: ‘Mommy died. She’s not coming back.’ And I said, ‘No, she is not coming back.’ And she just started out of the window and that was it.”

Despite saying in the documentary that his life “will always be about grief,” Ostroy has thrown himself into a non-profit organization he established after Shelly’s death. The Adrienne Shelly Foundation awards scholarships, grants and stipends to women film makers.

The widower explains in his film that the initiative has helped him cope. “I just made a decision early on that I need to accept what happened — in that ‘s–t happens, life’s not fair’ kind of way — but also try to spin some gold with it,” Ostroy says. “To turn what is probably the most horrible negative of my life to something positive.”

Ostroy describes having some “really dark moments” after his wife’s death when he would crawl into Shelly’s closet and wrap himself in her clothes just to feel closer to her. But he knew he had to keep it together for the sake of their daughter.

Shelly poses for a photo. Years later, her daughter, XXX, recreates the shot in remembrance of her mom.
Fifteen years after her mom’s death, Sophie (right) re-creates Shelly’s pose in front of Moulin Rouge.
HBO (2)

“All of the sudden, a routine set in and I just looked at [Sophie] and made her a promise that she’s going to grow up happy and healthy,” he says in the documentary. “We’re a team and we’re going to be okay.”

Nevertheless, he couldn’t help obsessing about Pillco’s criminal psyche. In 2011, Ostroy wrote to the killer, who sent him a long letter of apology in reply. The widower only decided to visit Pillco in jail after resolving to make a documentary to celebrate Shelly’s legacy.

On the morning of the trip to Pillco’s Catskills prison, Ostroy received a pep talk from Sophie. Interviewed in the film, the now 15-year-old says of her mom, “Every time I think of her, I think of [Pillco] too.” Growing up, she frequently questioned her dad about the intricacies of what had happened on Nov. 1, 2006, as they tried to come to terms with their loss.

“I want him [Pillco] to shed light on stuff and acknowledge what he did and who he took and the consequences of that,” Ostroy says on the drive to the prison. Then he manages a bit of dark humor: “It’d be funny if everything I said just goes out the window and I go into some fucking rage and I get carted out of there.”

Shelly was killed at her apartment in the West Village. After killing her, Pillco tried to make it look like a suicide. Neighbors left flowers at her door.
Shelly’s building in the West Village, where Pillco tried to make her death look like a suicide.
Robert Miller; William Farrington

That didn’t happen. After listening to Pillco’s account of the murder — prefaced by the killer’s claim that he was “never aggressive” — Ostroy looks him in the eyes.

“I want you to know that you took a wife, you took someone I was madly in love with and you took a mother,” Ostroy tells Pilco. Then he hands over another picture, this time of Sophie and Shelly together.

“That’s my daughter with her mom,” he says. “They don’t have anything any more. And they had everything.”

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Thunderbird Entertainment Group Reports on Q1 2022 Results



Thunderbird Entertainment Group Reports on Q1 2022 Results

Q1 2022 Revenue $35.1 million, 77% year-over-year increase

Q1 2022 Adjusted EBITDA $6.3 million, 31% year-over-year increase

27 shows in production; 12 IP or Partner-Managed

Conference call and webcast scheduled for November 29 at 8 a.m. PT/ 11 a.m. ET

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, November 24, 2021–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Thunderbird Entertainment Group Inc. (TSXV: TBRD, OTCQX: THBRF) (Thunderbird or the Company) today announced its financial results for Q1 2022, which ended September 30, 2021, and provided a corporate update.

Financial Highlights

  • Revenue was $35.1 million for the three months ended September 30, 2021, as compared to $19.8 million for the comparative period of fiscal 2021, an increase of $15.3 million (77%). The majority of this increase over the comparative period in 2021 is related to growth in production service projects and due to the delivery of the live-action series Strays for CBC.

  • Adjusted EBITDA was $6.3 million for the three months ended September 30, 2021, as compared to $4.8 million for the comparative period of fiscal 2021, an increase of $1.5 million (31%).

  • Free cash flow was $3.4 million for the three months ended September 30, 2021, as compared to $1.2 million for the comparative period of fiscal 2021, an increase of $2.2 million (183%).

“Content remains king and Thunderbird is laying the foundation to sustainably grow with the ever-increasing demand. With quality as our North Star and our focus on maintaining a culture that is diverse, inclusive and promotes excellence, Thunderbird will continue to lead in delivering premium content to our partners, further driving shareholder value,” said Jennifer Twiner McCarron, Thunderbird CEO.

Thunderbird’s Q1 2022 Corporate Highlights

  • At September 30, 2021, the Company had 27 programs in various stages of production. Twelve of these projects are Company IP or partner-managed service productions where the Company receives a percentage of certain revenue streams.

  • The Company’s productions currently air on Netflix, Peacock, Nickelodeon, Apple, Sony, PBS, Bell Media’s Discovery, Disney+, Corus Entertainment and the CBC, among others.

  • In Q1, the Kids and Family Division, Atomic Cartoons (“Atomic”) was in various stages of production on 16 animated television series/programs and two animated feature-length films, 18 productions in total. These programs reflect a blend of both partner-managed and service-based work.

  • During Q1, work produced by Atomic included: Mighty Express debuting its fourth season exclusively on Netflix; the Lego Star Wars: Terrifying Tales special streaming on Disney+; Season 4 of Trolls: TrollsTopia streaming on Peacock and Hulu; Marvel’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends — the first full-length Marvel series for preschoolers — premiering on Disney Channel and Disney Junior; and Curious George: Cape Ahoy debuting on Peacock.

  • In Q1, the Factual Division, Great Pacific Media (“GPM”), was in production on eight series and/or documentaries: Highway Thru Hell (Season 11), Heavy Rescue: 401 (Season 7), Mud Mountain Haulers (Season 2), Deadman’s Curse (working title) (Season 1), Good job (Season 1), Styled (working title) (Season 1), Dr. Savannah: Wild Rose Vet (Season 1) in conjunction with Wapanatahk Media, and The Teenager And The Lost Mayan City (working title).

  • Subsequent to Q1, GPM announced it has partnered with director, writer and producer Brad Peyton and visionary physicist Michio Kaku for its new series in development, If: Imagine the Impossible. This series is based on Underknown’s What If, which is a top ranked science program on social media.

  • In Q1, Thunderbird also announced Reginald the Vampire, its new fully-owned scripted series starring Spider-Man’s Jacob Batalon. Reginald the Vampire was picked up in a straight-to-series 10-episode order by SyFy and is being co-produced with Modern Story Company and December Films.

  • Also, in Q1, Strays, the spin-off series from Kim’s Convenience, premiered on CBC.

Results of Operations

For the three months ended

Sept 30,

Sept 30,

($000’s, except per share data)









Net income from continuing operations



Loss from discontinued operation



Net income for the period



Foreign currency translation adjustment




Loss on translation of discontinued operation



Comprehensive income for the period



Basic income per share – continuing operations



Diluted income per share – continuing operations



Basic loss per share – discontinued operation



Diluted loss per share – discontinued operation



EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA and Free Cash Flow

For the three months ended

Sept 30,

Sept 30,




Net income from continuing operations



Income tax expense



Deferred income tax expense



Finance costs




Dividends on preferred shares




Property and equipment



Right-of-use assets



Intangible assets








Share-based compensation



Unrealized foreign exchange (gain) loss




Severance costs







Adjusted EBITDA



Cash (outflows) inflows from continuing operations




Purchase of property and equipment





Net advances (repayment) of interim production financing




Free Cash Flow



Conference Call Webcast on Monday, November 29 at 8 a.m. PT/ 11 a.m. ET

Thunderbird will hold a conference call and webcast to share the Company’s Q1 financial results on November 29, 2021 at 8 a.m. PT/ 11 a.m. ET. The conference call will be webcast live and available for replay via the “Investors” section of the Thunderbird website.

Conference Call and Webcast Access:

Toll-free dial-in number: (833) 900-1530
International dial-in number: (236) 712-2271
Conference ID: 2977972

Participants joining by phone are requested to call the conference line 10 minutes early to avoid wait times while connecting to the call. The conference call will be webcast live and available for replay via the “Investors” section of the Thunderbird website. Investors can access a replay of the teleconference at: (+1) 416-621-4642 or toll-free at (+1) 800-585-8367 three hours after the call’s completion. The Conference ID # is 2977972. The teleconference replay will be available through December 13, 2021.

For information on Thunderbird and to subscribe to the Company’s investor list for news updates, go to

Thunderbird Entertainment Group is a global award-winning, full-service multiplatform production, distribution and rights management company, headquartered in Vancouver, with additional offices in Los Angeles, Toronto, and Ottawa. Thunderbird creates award-winning scripted, unscripted, and animated programming for the world’s leading digital platforms, as well as Canadian and international broadcasters. Thunderbird’s vision is to produce high quality, socially responsible content that makes the world a better place. The Company develops, produces, and distributes animated, factual, and scripted content through its various divisions, including Thunderbird Kids and Family (Atomic Cartoons), and Thunderbird Factual and Scripted (Great Pacific Media). The Company also has a division dedicated to global distribution and consumer products. Thunderbird is on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram at @tbirdent. For more information, visit:

On Behalf of Thunderbird Entertainment Group Inc.

Jennifer Twiner McCarron
Chief Executive Officer

Neither the TSX-V nor its Regulation Services Provider (as that term is defined in the policies of the TSX-V) accepts responsibility of the adequacy or accuracy of this release, which has been prepared by management.

Cautionary Statement Regarding Forward-Looking Information
This news release includes certain “forward-looking statements” under applicable Canadian securities legislation that are not historical facts. Forward-looking statements involve risks, uncertainties, and other factors that could cause actual results, performance, prospects, and opportunities to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements in this news release include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to the Company’s objectives, goals or future plans and the business and operations of the Company. Forward-looking statements are necessarily based on a number of estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking statements. Such factors include, but are not limited to: general business, economic and social uncertainties; litigation, legislative, environmental and other judicial, regulatory, political and competitive developments; those additional risks set out in the Company’s Filing Statement and other public documents filed on SEDAR at; and other matters discussed in this news release. Although the Company believes that the assumptions and factors used in preparing the forward-looking statements are reasonable, undue reliance should not be placed on these statements, which only apply as of the date of this news release, and no assurance can be given that such events will occur in the disclosed time frames or at all. Except where required by law, the Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

In addition to the results reported in accordance with IFRS, the Company uses various non-IFRS financial measures which are not recognized under IFRS, as supplemental indicators of our operating performance and financial position. These non-IFRS financial measures are provided to enhance the user’s understanding of our historical and current financial performance and our prospects for the future. Management believes that these measures provide useful information in that they exclude amounts that are not indicative of our core operating results and ongoing operations and provide a more consistent basis for comparison between periods. The following discussion explains the Company’s use of EBITDA, Adjusted EBITDA, and Free Cash Flow as measures of performance.

“EBITDA” is calculated based on earnings before interest, income taxes, depreciation and amortization. “Adjusted EBITDA” is calculated based on EBITDA before share-based compensation, unrealized foreign exchange gain/loss and items of an unusual or one-time nature that do not reflect our ongoing operations. EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are commonly reported and widely used by investors and lenders as an indicator of a company’s operating performance and ability to incur and service debt, and as a valuation metric. EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA are not earnings measures recognized by IFRS and therefore do not have a standardized meaning prescribed by IFRS. Therefore, EBITDA and Adjusted EBITDA may not be comparable to similar measures presented by other issuers.

“Free Cash Flow” (“FCF”) is calculated based on cash flows from operations, purchase of property and equipment and net interim production financing. FCF represents the cash a company generates after accounting for cash outflows to support operations and maintain its capital assets.

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Investor Relations:
Glen Akselrod, Bristol Capital
Phone: + 1 905.326.1888 ext 1

Media Relations:
Julia Smith, Finch Media
Phone: +1604.803.0897

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LOOKING BACK IN LITCHFIELD: New theater announces opening in 1936 | Entertainment



LOOKING BACK IN LITCHFIELD: New theater announces opening in 1936 | Entertainment

Editor’s note: Welcome to a new feature that looks at Litchfield history, from the perspective of a native of the area. Terry Shaw is a sort of unofficial recorder of Litchfield history, having researched and written two books — Terry Tales” and “Terry Tales II” — of his remembrances of growing up here. In recent years, Shaw has made daily posts on the Old Litchfield & Meeker County Facebook page. This new column will include snippets of history from both his books and Facebook posts.

  • The original owner of the land where Litchfield’s downtown now stands, George Baker Waller Sr., deeded one-half interest in 150 acres of his land to the railroad company to plat a town upon, and upon which a part of the original township was laid out in July of 1869. Waller moved his family here in November of 1869. Could we have been named Waller, Minnesota?
  • On Nov. 3, 1881, a grand opening ball was held on the main floor of the new Howard House hotel located at the north corner of West Depot and North Sibley. In November of 1978, the Bachman Construction Co. of Hutchinson bought the vacant building and lot. An auction was held of all the furniture and fixtures. What wasn’t sold, unfortunately, was thrown away, except for a few treasures my friend Pete Hughes had been given by one-time manager Vic Forte. Those treasures are on display at the Meeker County Historical Society (G.A.R. Hall). The hotel was torn down in December.
  • The G.A.R. Hall was dedicated on Nov. 14, 1885. One week after the dedication, on Nov. 21, 1885, the members deeded the Memorial Hall, as they called it, to the Village of Litchfield with the stipulation that it be kept as it was “in memory of the 300,000 soldiers who fell in defense of the Union” and be opened to the public for reading. So, the Hall naturally became the first public library in Meeker County. You can visit the hall for free (a donation is asked) and see it just like it was more than a century ago. The meeting room still contains the “kitchen chairs” each member brought from home to sit on at meetings.
  • The new Litchfield Opera House was designed by architect William T. Towner and built in late 1900. Opening night was Thursday, Nov. 8, 1900. The William Owens’ traveling troupe performed “The Marble Heart” that night.
  • In November 1925, a cross was burned on the lawn between Norwegian Reverend Martinus O. Silseth’s and lawyer Nelson Daniel March’s houses on Sibley Avenue South, only a block and a half from the railroad tracks. Litchfield had a 100 members strong chapter of the KKK back then. Not all of our news of the past is something we can be proud of.
  • Remembering that Electus Darwin Litchfield’s son was an architect, our town petitioned the government to have him design our new U.S. Post Office. Washington, D. C., gave the job to the son in November 1933, and so the son of Litchfield’s namesake designed that brick building on the northwest corner of East Second Street and North Marshall Avenue that is still used as our Post Office today.
  • Calvin Franklin “Frank” Schnee built the Hollywood Theater and opened it on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 1936. On the Grand Opening night, the movie shown was “Libeled Lady,” starring Jean Harlow, William Powell, Myrna Loy, and Spencer Tracy. Adult tickets were 35 cents and children’s tickets were a dime. It had “mirrophonic sound.” The opening night souvenir program told the patrons to leave their names with the usher or usherette if they were doctors, nurses, or professional people. Generally, these people would call the telephone office and tell the operator they were attending movies at the Hollywood Theater. Then if someone called the operator needing a doctor, the operator would call the movie theater and the usherette would be directed to get the physician and give him the message. The new building included a soundproof cry room for parents with young children. As with the Unique Theater, also run by the Schnee family, children under 12 were encouraged to sit in the first six rows. The water fountain with an electric eye was activated by bending down to it. Usherettes wore navy blue skirts with a gold trimmed red jacket and a pill box hat. The Schnees had quite a reputation for cleanliness. They did not allow popcorn in the theater until later years.
  • On a Sunday morning in November 1940, 56-year-old Walter Johnson, his wife and 18-year-old Walter Jr. were hit by the west bound Great Northern Empire Builder at the Armstrong Avenue crossing in Litchfield on their way to church. Eight-foot high snowbanks had blocked their view and Walter’s car got stuck in the deep, ice-filled ruts of the crossing’s approach. Walter’s son Bob was walking home from an earlier church service and had stopped at the Traveler’s Inn to warm up. He heard the train’s whistle blow and turned to look from the café’s doorway just in time to see his dad’s car being tossed into the air. He ran to the Sibley Avenue crossing, where the car had ended up, and saw his father dead in the car and his brother and mother laying on the gravel. Help came and Rosalind and Junior were taken to the hospital.

Bob ran back to the church and came in during the middle of the sermon. He found his other brothers, ran to their pew, and he told them the news. They all ran out of the church. Others in the church had overheard what Bob had told his brothers, and they stood and told the preacher who stopped the service. Walter’s wife survived but Junior died later that day at the hospital. Rosalind spent five months in the hospital. George, who had a house of his own, moved back home to help raise the other kids. The sons got together and decided to not let the tragedy stop the company’s growth. Abe dropped out of college and came home to pick up the slack in the company. Walter’s son Jim, who had taken over as the manager of the company, told Abe, “Dad had a plan about you goin’ to college and we’re gonna keep with Dad’s plans. You’re goin’ back to school.” Abe finished up at Harvard majoring in business. The company, of course, was the world-famous Johnson Brothers Construction Co.

  • My youngest brother, Patrick Francis “Pat” Shaw was born on Nov. 19, 1946, in the Meeker County Hospital (the old one).
  • Eighteen-year-old James Henry “Jim” Bachman, home on leave from the Army on Nov. 1, 1957, tried to beat the train at the Sibley Avenue crossing with his beautiful fender skirted ’49 Chevy at 4:35 p.m. that day. Fifteen-year-old Lyle Allen Rosenow witnessed the accident and told the police that Bachman took off south from the traffic light by the hotel and never slowed down for the tracks, even though the signal lights were flashing. Bachman had just dropped 13-year-old David Charles Lindell off at his home at 4:30 p.m. Ironically, David would be killed in a traffic accident five years later.
  • Michael Scott “Mick” Weber had his dad Clarence Peter Weber’s brand new 1960 Plymouth Valiant at school on Friday, Nov. 3, 1961. Clarence Weber had bought the car for his oldest son, Jack, to set him up in a taxi business. Mick Weber had promised to give football teammates Ralph Koelln and Kenny Fenner, Police Chief George Fenner’s son, a ride home after school at three o’clock. They had a football game that night and wanted some time at home first. Ralph and Kenny went to the school parking lot and found Clarence’s car and got in, waiting for Mick, who had given them the car keys. Mick never showed up. For some reason, he had forgotten about the arrangement and had walked uptown.
  • Along came my friend, Jerry Aloysius Wimmer. “What’s up guys?” Jerry asked. They told him and the three of them concocted a scheme where Ralph would drive Kenny home, drive himself home from Kenny’s and then turn the car over to Jerry and have him return it to the parking lot and explain it all to Mick, who would have realized his mistake by then and gone back to school. Jerry was an amazing athlete, but a terrible driver. Everything went well dropping off Ralph and Kenny, but as Jerry’s luck would have it, driving back to the school alone, he managed to stall the car right in the middle of the Holcombe Avenue railroad crossing. He put the car in park and tried over and over to get the ignition to fire. Nothing happened. Hearing an oncoming freight train, Jerry panicked, and he jumped out of the car. He tried to push the car off the tracks, first from the front of the car, and then from the rear. Unfortunately, he had forgotten that he had put the car in park and that’s why it wouldn’t budge. Jerry was very excitable. I can just imagine what he went through, struggling to push that car, his face turning redder than his bright red-orange hair. He must have finally realized that there was nothing he could do because he wisely turned and ran, just as the horn-blasting and speeding Great Northern freight train plowed into the “borrowed” car.

The train slammed the Valiant into the automatic crossing signal lights, shearing them off their standard. The car sailed another 50 yards before it came to a rest beside the tracks and up against the rest of the train that had finally come to a screeching halt. Jerry just stood there, paralyzed, staring at the car. He must have been thinking, “My life is over. I’m dead. They will put me in jail.” Before long, people ran up, asking Jerry if he was OK. He just stood there, mumbling, staring at the car, and crying. After he had completely broken down, he was taken to the doctor, who sedated him. Jerry, the football team’s star QB couldn’t play that night either and Litchfield got beat bad. Jerry was never the same after that and all of us, to this day, are a little more cautious when we drive across a railroad track crossing.

  • Litchfield Coin-Operated Dry Cleaners owners Ed Fitzloff and his wife were on their way home to Hutchinson from Litchfield when a train at the Sibley Avenue crossing killed them both in November of 1963.
  • 1936 Academy Award winner for Best Supporting Actress and Litchfield born, Gale Sondergaard was performing at the Guthrie Theater in 1967 and she made a trip out to Litchfield one day in November of that year. She visited friends, stood in the bandstand for a while, and then she spoke for about an hour to the high school Thespian Club, which had been named after her. Gale did a few more movies in the ’70s, including “A Man Named Horse,” before her death in 1985.
  • On Nov. 1, 1968, a Litchfield man, who survived six months of precarious mine detection duty with the U.S. Army combat engineers without incurring a scratch, was killed instantly at 6 o’clock in the morning when his car was struck by a Great Northern freight train at the Sibley Avenue crossing. His name was Wayne Henry Heyer, and he was the 21-year-old son of Henry Harlen and Ellen W. Heyer. Wayne, a 1965 graduate of LHS, was discharged from the Army on July 2 after serving 16 months in Vietnam, the last six months on mine detection duty. The day before the accident, he had just completed his first day of work as a construction worker at Litchfield’s new Ripley Elementary School and was on his way to work again when the accident happened.
  • On Tuesday, Nov. 18, 1986, my brother Mike Shaw, Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, Howard Holtz (who was Mike’s “heart-lung machine during Mick’s world-famous operation), and my mother were reunited in Litchfield for the filming of a BBC and Boston PBS Nova documentary about the developments in surgery since the end of World War II. Mike had had the first successful open-heart surgery which had been invented by Dr Lillehei of the Heart Hospital in Minneapolis. Mick and Dr. Lillehei were filmed walking through Central Park. Then the entire group was filmed sitting around our mother’s kitchen table discussing the operation.
  • Most of us can remember the famous Halloween blizzard that happened on Nov. 3, 1991.
  • Longtime Carnegie Library head librarian Gertrude Johnson died in November 2008. Her son Jim asked me to sing at her funeral at the Ness Church. It was then that I found out that she had been baptized, confirmed, married, and then buried at that same church.
  • In November 2019, the Worden mink farm finally went out of business. Of course, the closing of the business was the result of the change in people’s attitudes towards wearing furs among other things.
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