CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – A statue of actor Frank “Sgt. Carter” Sutton, who was born and raised in Clarksville, will be dedicated at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 3 on Franklin Street in Downtown Clarksville. Bad weather last Saturday forced the ceremony to be rescheduled.
Mark Holleman, civic leader and broker/owner of Coldwell Banker Conroy, Marable & Holleman working with the City of Clarksville, led the drive to place the statue -- created by local sculptor Scott Wise -- near the Roxy Theatre in Sutton’s hometown.
“This all started when one of my agents, Pat Powers, a distant relative of Frank Sutton, and I started talking about making this a company project,” Holleman said. “We decided to do it, conferred with the city about how to make it happen, then formed a committee, found some investors, and raised some money.”
The City of Clarksville, which accepted donation of the completed statue from the committee, prepared the site and installed the work last week.
“I thank Mark and the committee for their accomplishment,” Mayor Kim McMillan said. “Frank Sutton remains a ‘favorite son’ of our community and this is a fitting tribute to him. He gave distinguished service to our country, and by all accounts, he was always fond Clarksville, and remained true to his relatives and roots here.”
PHOTO CAPTION: The completed statue of Frank Sutton will be unveiled at 1:30 p.m. Saturday near the Roxy Theatre on Franklin Street. Pictured are precast models of the statue by local sculptor Scott Wise, who also is a Clarksville firefighter
Sutton, who took to the stage as a student at East High School in Nashville, where his family moved when he was 8, returned to Clarksville after high school and worked as a radio announcer. During World War II, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in the South Pacific.
After the war, he began a notable career as an actor, with many TV roles in shows such as “The Twilight Zone” and “Gunsmoke,” and a significant role in the Academy Award-winning movie “Marty.” But Sutton will always be remembered for his breakthrough role as tough Marine Corps Sergeant Vince Carter in the “Gomer Pyle” television series with Jim Nabors.
Holleman said the investors in the Sutton Statue are Planters Bank, the Hand Family Companies, Two Rivers Company, Dr. Alan and Donna Warner; Bill and Fran Powers; J. and Rhonda Runyon, and Coldwell Banker Conroy, Marable & Holleman. The granite base was donated by Clarksville Memorial Co.
“Sutton grew up downtown, so we thought it would be good to put it downtown,” Holleman said, “and we wanted a local artist, so we turned to Scott Wise, who did a great job.”
Holleman notes that Sutton also is being honored for his military service and his long service to veterans and veterans organizations.
“He’s not only a famous actor, but he has a great military history behind him,” Holleman said.
Frank Spencer Sutton was born Oct. 23, 1923, the only child of Frank Sims Sutton and Thelma Spencer Sutton. The couple met while employed at The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle.
Sutton died of a sudden heart attack in 1974 at age 50 in Shreveport, La., while preparing for a theatrical performance. He is buried in the family plot in Clarksville’s Greenwood Cemetery.