SOUTHINGTON — In 1958, Ray Aldieri and his wife Ann heard that Doris Day and Jack Lemmon would be in town filming a movie less than a mile from their apartment. Ray Aldieri grabbed his camera and had to fight crowds to get a decent shot of the stars.
“I had to go and see,” he said. “They were Hollywood actors, how often are they going to come to Plantsville? That was a big deal.”
Sixty years ago on Saturday, Day and Lemmon were filming a Columbia Pictures production at area rail stations, including the Milldale Depot.
The romantic comedy “It Happened to Jane” pits Day, a Maine lobster seller, and Lemmon, her lawyer, against Ernie Kovacs playing a railroad tycoon.
To commemorate the anniversary of the filming, the Southington Historical Society is holding a “Doris” Day on Saturday. The town has issued a proclamation for Day, who is now 96.
Robert Belletzkie, a train historian, said he’s been in contact with Day’s publicist. The actress wrote a letter in response to the proclamation that will be read on Saturday.
The ceremony will begin at 1:30 p.m. at the library with a selection of Day’s music. A tour of the train depot will follow at 447 Canal St.
Aldieri’s pictures from 60 years ago will also be displayed.
“We have a picture of Doris on the platform in her nice white dress,” Belletzkie said. “Jack Lemmon is there also, all sooted up from playing the fireman on the locomotive.”
The Meriden Journal covered the filming in 1958 and reported that most of the shooting took place in Chester. The film crew staged in Plainville and used the Old Canal Line for some scenes.
“The camera crew, along with Miss Day and Lemmon, spent yesterday afternoon traveling between Plainville and Southington shooting scenes for the film,” the newspaper reported on July 1, 1958. “The crew spent nearly an hour at the Spring St. crossing changing over cameras.”
Jack Lemmon told reporters that the Southington countryside was “just as beautiful as Newton, Massachusetts, where he spent his childhood.” Working in the heat, Lemmon described shooting as a “physical grind” and the hardest he’d worked in his life.
Day, who operates the train in the film, said she disliked getting her white dress dirty with the work. She told reporters she wished there was more time to enjoy the scenery.
The Meriden Journal referred to the movie in the 1958 article as “Miss Casey Jones”, although Columbia released it under the title “It Happened to Jane.”