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Harry MacLean ’60’s Book Adapted into Showtime Documentary Series

Henry MacLean '60 waits to be interviewed for the upcoming Showtime document, Buried.
  • Alumni

Harry MacLean, SSM Class of 1960, is going from written word to the silver screen. 

Nebraska native Harry MacLean, SSM Class of 1960, works as both an arbitration attorney and a true-crime writer, and now, his book “Once Upon a Time: A True Story of Memory, Murder and the Law” has gone from the page to the screen in the four-part documentary series “Buried” on Showtime.

The story follows a controversial case from 1990 in which a woman named Eileen Franklin-Lipsker suddenly recalled a vivid memory of her childhood that implicated her father in the disappearance of her then-playmate. The case opened a nationwide discussion of repressed memories and their validity in a court of law, which “Buried” examined with Mr. MacLean starring as the series' on screen narrator. Mr. MacLean’s book became a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and “Buried” is currently available to watch on Showtime.

However, this isn’t Mr. MacLean’s first time being adapted to the screen. As a boy, he constantly reread Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” inspiring an intense interest in true-crime that continues to this day, complemented by his work in law.

His first book, “In Broad Daylight,” told the story the unsolved murder of Rex McElroy, a “town bully” who was shot by vigilantes in 1981, and was eventually adapted into a TV movie starring Brian Dennehy and Chris Cooper, while also winning an Edgar Award.

Mr. MacLean’s second book, “The Past is Never Dead: The Trial of James Ford Seale and Mississippi’s Struggle for Redemption” examined the murder of two Black teenagers in 1964, and why it took over four decades for their Klansmen killers to finally be brought to justice. In their review, Publisher’s Weekly wrote, “ MacLean (In Broad Daylight) recounts the story with momentum, clear legal explanations and stirring empathy for each character.”

Now, Mr. MacLean will turn his attention to the case of Charles Starkweather, a man who, at 19, rampaged through Nebraska and Wyoming in 1958 and killed eleven people, three of whom were part of the same Lincoln community as Mr. MacLean. His book will address the involvement of Carol Ann Fugate, Starkweather’s 14-year-old accomplice at the time, who Mr. MacLean hopes to interview for the project.

Mr. MacLean certainly doesn’t shy away from the darker parts of a story! For those who wish to learn more about Mr. MacLean’s true crime writing projects, he was interviewed by Flatwater Free Press.

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