WEATHERFORD — By JUDY SHERIDAN
Aledo resident Sherrie S. McLeRoy, historical scholar and prolific author, has something new out this spring: a biography of Edna Gladney, whose fight for children’s rights and adoption reform has made her a singular figure in Fort Worth and Texas history.
Entitled, “Texas Adoption Activist Edna Gladney: A Life & Legacy of Love,” the engaging narrative, published by The History Press, made its formal debut March 27 at the 50th anniversary of the ‘Blossoms in the Dust’ Luncheon Fashion Show and Bazaar, hosted by the Gladney Family Association.
Since then, McLeRoy has been sharing Gladney’s story through speaking and book-signing engagements; Thursday she was scheduled to speak at a meeting of the North Fort Worth Historical Society.
McLeRoy said her book is the first on the compassionate, behind-the scenes crusader, who served as superintendent of the Texas Children’s Home and Aid Society from 1927 to 1960, inspiring the agency’s board to rename it in her honor.
She was granted exclusive access to all of Gladney’s personal papers and photos, she said, and was able to interview relatives, “whose wonderful stories helped bring her to life.”
Filled with photos — some never before published — the book not only relates Gladney’s true story — a good one with no embellishment — but also compares and contrasts it with her portrayal on film by Metro Goldwyn-Mayer, which produced ‘Blossoms in the Dust’ to national acclaim in 1941.
The idea for making such a movie reached MGM through a screenwriter who adopted a young girl from Gladney, according to the book.
Committing in a big way, the studio decided to film in Technicolor — a relatively new and costly process — to make the most of the captivating red hair of rising star Greer Garson, chosen to play Gladney.
Despite dealing with the topic of illegitimacy, which some found offensive, the film was on the year’s top 10 list.