Silent movie star Agnes Ayers was born in Carbondale, Illinois in 1898. She played what was considered for that era to be a steamy love scene with "The Latin Lover," Rudolph Valnentino, in The Shiek in 1921. Even though Agnes died in 1940, Congressman Aron Shock of Peoria and 100 other members of The Illinois State Society had a chance to "meet" Agnes Ayers last Wedneday night at The Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC.
The members also had a chance to meet Anne Rutledge, Eliott Ness, Jane Adams, Enrico Fermi, Relph Metcalfe, Bill Veeck, Bessie Coleman, Mayor Long John Wentworth, Ernie Banks, and Peoria natives Fibber McGee and Molly.
How was this possible? Because actress Jackie Cabrera-Funn played the role of Ayers, just as eight other actors also played the roles of other once-famous people from Illinois history at the annual meeting of the society, which was founded in 1854. At the meeting Congressman Aaron Schock passed his gavel as society president to former La Grange native Stu Piper. The society has about 600 members in the Washington, DC region who are either expatriates from Illinois or alumni of Illinois universities but who now work in the national capital area. One legend of Chicago journalism who attended was the award-winning syndicated-columnist Georgie Anne Geyer who started her career with The Chicago Daily News after graduating from the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism in 1956.
Fortunately this unusual performance about Illinois history was video-taped by professionals and may soon be available on You Tube. Stay tuned.