Today I learned that Flannery O’Connor had her first brush with fame at the age of 6 because she had taught one of her chickens to walk backwards. The Pathé newsreel people somehow heard about this, and they rushed to Georgia to film her. That short was screened all over the world. She joked that “When I was six I had a chicken that walked backward and was in the Pathé News. I was in it, too, with the chicken. I was just there to assist the chicken, but it was the high point in my life. Everything since has been anticlimax.”
It took a while, but after a lot of dead-ends, I finally found the film online. (Glory hallelujah, there is now a Pathé archive online!) Click here to watch “Do You Reverse?” (1932).
Sadly, O’Connor died at 39 from lupus. I don’t believe she ever saw the film.
Oh! And tomorrow would have been Flannery O’Connor’s 85th birthday. Happy Birthday, Chicken Whisperer!