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Welcome to the official podcast of The Nashville Retrospect, the monthly newspaper devoted to stories from Nashville's past. Editor and host Allen Forkum interviews local historians and people who experienced the city’s history firsthand. He also investigates audio artifacts from area archives and relates fascinating articles from old Nashville newspapers.

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Aug 1, 2019

Veteran reporter Larry Brinton recalls growing up in Hillsboro Village, how he became a journalist, and more of his big news stories, including the Janet March murder in 1996 and President Kennedy’s Nashville visit in 1963. This special podcast, on the occasion of Brinton’s recent death, is a continuation of the interview from Episode 01 by host Allen Forkum (editor of The Nashville Retrospect newspaper). (Segment begins at 04:14)

[EDITOR’S NOTE: For even more, see our video presentation “True Crime Nashville: The Reporting of Larry Brinton."]

Larry Brinton is shown in photos he estimated were taken in the early 1940s. In the left photo, Larry (left) stands with his brother, Reuben Brinton. On the right, Larry stand with his sisters Ann and Jean. Larry was born on Sept. 8, 1930, and died on July 25, 2019. (Images: Larry Brinton)

Larry Brinton is pictured in a 1964 “mugshot” for the Nashville Banner. He started working for the Banner after leaving the Navy in 1954, first as an obituary writer, then as a police reporter. (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room)

In this snapshot, Perry March (left) is pictured with Brinton at March’s house in Ajijic, Mexico. Brinton was the only reporter to whom March would talk. Brinton said of March: “From day one I was convinced he had murdered his wife of nine years. There wasn’t a doubt in my mind, ever.” (Image: Larry Brinton)

Part of the original caption from the Dec. 26, 1961, Nashville Banner: “Banner color cameras record the drama of the spectacular blaze which destroyed the historic Maxwell House Monday night, leaving in ruins one of the most famous landmarks in the Nashville area. Roaring flames ate through the roof of the century-old building while soot-smeared firemen fought stubbornly to bring the angry blaze under control. …” (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room, photo by John Morgan)

Country music star Patsy Cline is pictured in publicity photo. Brinton covered the story of her 1963 death by visiting the crash site of her airplane in Camden, Tenn. (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room)

President John F. Kennedy steps out of his open-top limousine at Vanderbilt’s Dudley Field in May 1963. During his visit, Brinton had an encounter with the president at the Hermitage Hotel. (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room)

Also hear the award-winning journalist discuss his role in exposing the cash-for-clemency scandal of Gov. Ray Blanton, which eventually led to Brinton’s portrayal of himself in the 1985 movie “Marie.” (Segment begins at 42:25)

Marie Ragghianti stands in front of Nashville’s Federal Courthouse in 1977. While heading the state parole board, Ragghianti met secretly with Larry Brinton in September 1976, saying that she suspected paroles were being sold by Gov. Ray Blanton’s administration. (Image: Nashville Public Library, Nashville Room, photo by Dean Dixon)

The front page of the Oct. 23, 1976, Nashville Banner on which Brinton’s story about the cash-for-clemency scandal first appeared. (Image: Tennessee State Library and Archives)

In the 1985 Warner Brothers movie “Marie” about the cash-for-clemency scandal, Brinton portrayed himself. This screen capture from the movie’s trailer shows Sissy Spacek as Marie Ragghianti with Brinton in the background. (Image: Warner Brothers)

And finally, Allen Forkum reviews some of the contents of the August 2019 issue, including the 1926 execution of the “Petting Party Bandit” and an 1899 outbreak of illness in Nashville due to contaminated buttermilk. (Segment begins at 01:48)



A list of articles relating to this episode that you can find in archive issues of The Nashville Retrospect (archive issues can be ordered by clicking here or on the issue links below):

• “Growing Up in Hillsboro Village” by Larry Brinton, The Nashville Retrospect, October 2016

• “4 Opry Stars Die In Crash,” by Larry Brinton and Clay Harges, Nashville Banner, March 6, 1963 (The Nashville Retrospect, March 2010)

• “Police Push For Killers Of Stringbean, Wife,” by Robert Glass, Nashville Banner, Nov. 12, 1973 (The Nashville Retrospect, November 2010)

• “The Stringbean Murders” by Larry Brinton, The Nashville Retrospect, November 2010

• “Ashes Mark End To 102 Years of History” by Ed Huddleston (about the Maxwell House Hotel fire), Nashville Banner, Dec. 26, 1961 (The Nashville Retrospect, December 2009)

• “Perry March” by Larry Brinton, The Nashville Retrospect, August 2010

• “November 22, 1963” by Paul Clements (about the assassination of President Kennedy), The Nashville Retrospect, November 2013

• “Cash For Clemency” by Larry Brinton, The Nashville Retrospect, September 2011

• “Sisk Apologizes To Rep. Hall For Dousing, Slap In The Face,” Nashville Banner, March 25, 1977 (The Nashville Retrospect, March 2018)


Other related articles:

• “The Blanton Administration: FBI Probing Parole Payoffs” by Larry Brinton, Nashville Banner, Oct. 23, 1976

• “Tennessee: How U.S. Wages War on Corruption” by Charles R. Babcock, The Washington Post, Jan. 3, 1979

• “Vanishing Of Scripts Stirs Furor” by Kirk Loggins, The Tennessean, Dec. 22, 1984

• “Marie on ‘Marie’: Like a Sledgehammer” by Gene Wyatt, The Tennessean, Sept. 27, 1985

• “‘Marie’ Fast-Paced, Well Acted” by Janet Maslin (N.T. Times News Service), The Tennessean, Sept. 27, 1985

• “Guilty on all counts; Ex-lawyer convicted of killing his wife” by Sheila Burke (about the verdict against Perry March in the murder of Janet March), The Tennessean, Aug. 18, 2006


Links relating to this episode:

“Nashville Retrospect” podcast, Episode 01, featuring Larry Brinton

Larry B. Brinton obituary

“Larry Brinton, a hard-nosed, old-school Nashville reporter, dies at 88” by Brad Schmitt and Mary Hance at Tennessean

“Longtime Nashville journalist Larry Brinton dies at age 88” by Chuck Morris at WSMV

“Marie Ragghianti” at Wikipedia

“Marie: A True Story” book by Peter Maas at Amazon

“Marie: A True Story” Warner Brothers Archive Collection DVD at Amazon

“Marie: A True Story” movie trailer at YouTube

“Ku Klux Klan”by Mark V. Wetherington at Tennessee Encyclopedia

“The Murder of Janet March” at Wikipedia


Audio excerpts: “Marie: A True Story” movie, Warner Brothers (1985); “Marie: A True Story” trailer, Warner Brothers (1985).

Music: “Near You” by Francis Craig and His Orchestra (Bullet, 1947); “Quiet Outro” by ROZKOL (2018); “Covered Wagon Days” by Ted Weems and His Orchestra; and “The Buffalo Rag” by Vess L. Ossman