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Richland Source readers share memories from Shawshank filming

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MANSFIELD -- A quarter century ago, the Ohio State Reformatory and other spots around Richland County served as the backdrop for what's become one of the most popular movies of its time, The Shawshank Redemption.

It became a personal project for the community with numerous local families spotting their relatives and friends on screen as extras -- or recall memories from their interactions with the cast and crew.

In honor of The Shawshank Redemption’s 25th anniversary, Richland Source asked readers to share their memories of the filming.

Here’s what they had to say. 

The extras: Early mornings, hairspray and a chance at making it on the big screen 

When the casting call went out for “Rita Hayworth & Shawshank Redemption” (the movie's original title) in the spring of 1993, Jane Imbody jumped at the chance to be an extra. 

"It’s not often you have the opportunity to be in a movie when you live in a small Ohio town," she said. 

Shortly after submitting her application, she received a phone call from the extras casting director, who informed Imbody that director Frank Darabont had chosen her to be a reporter. At that time, Imbody was working as an anchor/reporter at WMFD-TV, so it seemed like a fitting role. 

She had a costume fitting – a tan dress and brown low-heeled shoes that turned out to be less than comfortable once worn for a full day. Then, she waited. It took two months before she was told to report for filming.

"I had started to think my chance to be on the big screen wouldn’t happen, so I was thrilled when I got the call to report," Imbody said.

She remembers receiving detailed instructions on how to show up.  She was told to put her hair in magnetic rollers the night before and leave them in until arriving on set. She also needed to bring false eyelashes.

Parking for the extras who worked that day of filming, July 31, 1993, were told to report to a parking lot near the old Westinghouse plant around 6 a.m., where they'd would be transported by bus to the prison.

submitted by Imbody

Submitted by Jane Imbody.  

"When we arrived at OSR, trailers were available with our clothing for the film.  I went to another trailer to have my hair done -- a painful process as my hair was teased and sprayed -- and my false eyelashes were put on," Imbody said. "They really didn’t bother with much actual makeup."

Extras had been warned not to talk to the actors unless they spoke to you first. To not jeopardize her chance on the big screen, Imbody reluctantly followed this rule.

"I found myself in the makeup trailer at one point with Clancy Brown (Capt. Hadley) after one of my eyelashes fell off. I really wanted to say something to him because, early on in my reporting career, I had met his father – former Ohio Congressman Clarence ‘Bud’ Brown – and had even been to the family home," Imbody said. "Clancy ignored me so I missed the chance to share that connection."

The scene Imbody took part in that day turned out to be one of the most pivotal scenes in the movie, the one where authorities arrive at the prison to arrest the warden and Capt. Hadley.

"They divided the extras up along both sides of the driveways leading to the front of the prison.  I found myself separated from the rest of the ‘reporters.’  But, when the director called action, I took matters in my own hands," Imbody said. "A real reporter wouldn’t allow herself to be away from the action, so I ran to join the rest of the extras who made up the press pool.

"I think it’s because of that decision that you can actually see me in the movie."

The making of the movie wasn't as glamorous as Imbody had anticipated.

"There was a lot of down time where we did nothing but wait," she said.  "I remember it was a bit overcast that day with occasional light rain.  Every time that happened, someone would yell 'Ladies, hair!' And we would have to run inside the prison so our 60’s hairdos weren’t spoiled."

Some of the extras, including Imbody, were eventually asked to return a few weeks later as filming was wrapping up. It was for a different scene, the one where Warden Norton holds a press conference in front of the prison to announce the program that inmates would be doing work outside the prison walls. 

"This scene takes place several years earlier in the movie than the arrest scene, yet the reporters wore the same clothes. I joked that, in a way, that made sense because reporters typically didn’t make a lot of money to buy many new clothes," Imbody said.

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The movie-making experience for Chris Bacon, an extra in the bank scene, was similar to Imbody's. 

He recalls "a lot of sitting around and waiting," but he enjoyed this, too. He found it interesting to watch the cast and crew at work. 

"It was such a neat experience I would do it again in a heartbeat," Bacon said.

After being chosen as an extra, he had his picture taken and shared some basic information about himself. 

"When you went to wardrobe they had your outfit ready. They had jewelry, shoes and all accessories together to try on," he said. "Amazing, everything fit perfectly just from the picture that was submitted." 

He also remembers his experience in "hair and makeup," where someone asked to cut his hair. He allowed it.

"Everyone’s hair was teased, and I swear they used one can of hairspray per person whether you had hair or not," Bacon said. 

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Henry Celestino, who was living in Toledo in 1993, took a leave of absence from his job to be an extra in The Shawshank Redemption.  In his opinion, it was worthwhile. 

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“I worked on Shawshank for four months. I'm in five scenes,” he said. 

He can be seen most prominently pointing at Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, when he’s being taken into the Ohio State Reformatory. 

Later, he walks behind Red, played by Morgan Freeman, while he’s sitting on a Mansfield bench. 

An aspiring actor, Celestino said, the movie “lit a fire for me.” It encouraged him to pursue an acting career. 

He can also be spotted in the 1999 drama Message in a Bottle with Kevin Costner and the 2006 romantic comedy, The Break-Up, with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. 

Now 58, Celestino lives and works in Michigan. Acting has never been his full-time job, but upon retirement, he intends to pick up the pursuit of an acting career. 

“When filming (The Shawshank Redemption), I loved going to work. I loved being on the set. It was so different and so good,” he said. “It got me thinking, I could do this for a living. It made me think, wow, I could do more.” 

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Linda Novak said she was an extra in the grocery store.

“It was great to see this three-page short story by Steven King made into such a great movie,” she said. 

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Anthony Lamar White said his grandfather Jimmy (James) White was in the movie with “a lot of parts.” 

His aunt can also be seen in a scene at the bus station.

“God rest their souls. They are my favorite parts,” White said. 

Behind the scenes: Construction, props and a lousy date

Mansfield’s Judy Forney remembers going on a daytime date with someone there to audition for the movie. 

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“We had a quick lunch and rode through Richland County till the poor guy got car sick from all the hills and curves,” she said. “Never heard from him again. 

Her daughter and CEO of Downtown Mansfield Inc., Jen Kime laughed when hearing this memory. 

“Not sure I remember that story,” she said. 

The only thing Kime says she can vividly recall is seeing Freeman ride horses around Vanderbilt Road. 

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David E. Smith said he worked for the construction crew starting in March 1993. 

“We started working on the prison set at the old Westinghouse plant. It was nothing but a concrete slab and ended up being a five-story prison,” he said.

His workday typically began early, probably around 5:30 a.m. He worked six days a week, for 12 hours a day. 

He’d first pick up the “Hollywood guys” at the Rodeway Inn on Trimble Road and then head to the construction site. Throughout the day, he’d go pick up whatever construction materials were needed

“When filming started we would haul trailers full of filming equipment and camper trailers that the stars relaxed in from set to set,” Smith said. “We also built the Stonewall that Red sat by at the end of the movie. 

“It was a very good experience for me.” 

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Jason Crundwell, Director of development and alumni relations for St. Peter's Catholic Church in Mansfield, said St. Peter's High School's library furniture was used as props in the movie.

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Cookie Beard, who says she worked in wardrobe simply described her job as an “amazing experience."

The movie premiere: A packed theatre and plenty of applause

Imbody, who was an extra, will never forget The Shawshank Redemption's 1994 premiere. 

"The energy in the Renaissance Theatre was palpable. Cheering began as soon as the movie started to roll," she said. "Every shot of Mansfield brought a reaction.  Every time a local extra appeared, you’d hear a yell or applause.  There must have been a lot of extras in the theatre that night." 

She was glad to watch the movie again a short while later, just to hear the actor's lines that she missed the first time around.

A site to see: A prison, a movie set or both

Delaware County resident Steve Tupps says his favorite part of The Shawshank Redemption’s filming came after the crew had left town, when he “finally got to see the prison” from his favorite movie.

“I was only like 60 some miles away (from OSR). The tour took us to different rooms. Being a Shawshank fanatic, every room we walked into I explained what happened in there,” Tupps said. “The woman giving the tour started asking me what happened in each room we went in to see.” 

He said he’s seen the movie at least 50 times, likely more. 

“I think I will watch it right now,” he said when submitting his story to Richland Source. “Long live Shawshank.”

Staff Reporter

Proud Pennsylvania native. Joined the staff in April 2017. Formerly Tracy Geibel.