CHILLICOTHE – The Chillicothe Historical Society will present the Grand Opening of their new Johnston McCulley exhibit on June 8. The “Johnston McCulley, Chillicothe’s Master Story Teller” exhibit will be formally opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 9:00 AM at the museum Saturday June 8 at 723 N. Fourth Street. McCulley, the creator of the world famous action hero character Zorro was raised in Chillicothe and graduated from Chillicothe High School in 1901.
McCulley, orphaned by age eleven, began his writing career as a freelance reporter for the Peoria Journal and began submitting short story manuscripts to publishers by 1903. He then moved to Oregon where he continued working in the newspaper business and in 1906 McCulley sold his first short story that was published in Argosy Magazine, as-well-as having a stage play “The Heir Apparent” presented in Portland, Oregon that same year. In 1919, McCulley wrote one of the most successful stories published in pulp fiction history as a five-part serial in Argosy Magazine. The title was The Curse of Capistrano. Douglas Fairbanks Sr. purchased the film rights for which McCulley wrote the screen play. The title of the novel was changed to The Mark of Zorro for the movie.
The movie launched McCulley on an amazing run as a successful author of over 150 novels and stories, many movies, fifteen plays, and a television series featuring McCulley’s Zorro. McCulley’s success remains strong today, especially in Europe and the Far East. McCulley will be accepted in the Chillicothe High School Alumni Association’s “Distinguished Alumni” program at the Alumni Banquet that evening.
The Chillicothe Historical Society has been working nearly two years to complete the museum exhibit which presents an extensive account of McCulley’s early life as-well-as lifelong literary career, now in its ninth decade. The Chillicothe Historical Society will begin the day’s activity with a ribbon cutting on June 8 at the museum at 9:00am. The museum will be open to visitors until 4:00pm on Saturday and again on Sunday from 1:00 to 4:00pm. For information, contact the museum at 309-274-9076 or Gary Fyke at 309-360-0209 or Dianne Colwell at 309-251-3260.