Fred MacMurray is remembered as a successful screen actor, from his dark portrayal of a desperate man in the 1944 crime drama “Double Indemnity” to the title role of Disney’s “Absent-Minded Professor” in 1961.
Above all, he was the ultimate father figure, whether he was playing the exasperated dad in the original “Shaggy Dog” film in 1959, or the wiser, calmer patriarch in 12 seasons of TV’s “My Three Sons,” from 1960 to 1972.
In the Healdsburg area, MacMurray and his wife, actress June Haver, are also remembered as good neighbors who spent much of their time nearby on the Twin Valley Ranch, later renamed the MacMurray Ranch, on Westside Road.
The couple bought the property, a working cattle ranch, in 1941 and maintained it as a home-away-from-Hollywood for half a century.
Their daughter, Kate MacMurray, still lives on the property, now owned by Gallo of Sonoma, which maintains vineyards there and produces the MacMurray Ranch line of wines.
“Gallo purchased the ranch in 1996, and it’s still used for agriculture, which is what Daddy wanted. There are beautiful vineyards planted there now, but the homestead is the same,” MacMurray said.
Working with the Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society, MacMurray has collaborated on an exhibit of photographs, posters, mementos and memorabilia called “The Movie Stars Next Door: Fred MacMurray, June Haver at the MacMurray Ranch.”
“We’ve never done anything quite like this before,” MacMurray said. “Both of my parents had a very rich personal life, and of course, their film careers. I am so touched to have an exhibit this personal, and in Healdsburg, particularly, because Mom and Dad loved Healdsburg.”
Fred MacMurray died in 1991 and June Haver died in 2005, and although their daughter has hosted public events at the ranch, this is the first local museum exhibit.
Visitors to the Healdsburg Museum will see posters for “Double Indemnity” and other MacMurray films, and photos of his famous guests at the ranch, including actors Jimmy Stewart and Clark Gable, and comedian Red Skelton.
Displays also cover MacMurray’s hobbies — watercolor painting, fly fishing and skeet shooting — as well as Haver’s — painting and crewel embroidery. Artifacts include MacMurray’s saddle and several hats he wore in Western movies.
Healdsburg Museum curator Holly Hoods first approached MacMurray last year about staging an exhibit, which opened May 15 and runs until July 21.
“This exhibit came together because of the local interest in the MacMurray family ranch,” Hoods said, “and Kate MacMurray has been a longtime supporter of the museum.”
What: “The Movie Stars Next Door: Fred MacMurray, June Haver and the MacMurray Ranch”
Where: Healdsburg Museum and Historical Society, 221 Matheson St., Healdsburg
When: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, until July 21.
Information: 431-3325, healdsburgmuseum.org.