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Holmes County Historical Society to have presentation on Hott's work in movies

The Daily Record logo The Daily Record 7/20/2022 Kevin Lynch, The Daily Record

MILLERSBURG - Maybe he was heeding Horace Greeley's call to "Go West, young man." Or maybe he was simply satisfying his wanderlust. Whatever led Holmesville native Homer Hott to Hollywood remains a mystery.

But shortly after graduating from Prairie Rural High School in 1926, where he studied science and music, Hott ventured to Hollywood to work in the motion picture industry for a few years. And his life in the entertainment world began.

The Holmes County Historical Society will give a presentation of the life of Hott at the Holmesville Church of God on West Main Street on Thursday, July 28, at 7 p.m. Historical Society member Dee Ann Lemon is the daughter of Hott, and she will share her father's story.

Dee Ann Lemon (left), the daughter of Homer Hott, and Holmes County Historical Society Executive Director Mark Boley go over photos and other information while putting together a presentation on Holmesville's Homer Hott Goes to Hollywood. The presentation will be Thursday July 28 at the Holmesville Church of Christ. © Kevin Lynch/Wooster Daily Record Dee Ann Lemon (left), the daughter of Homer Hott, and Holmes County Historical Society Executive Director Mark Boley go over photos and other information while putting together a presentation on Holmesville's Homer Hott Goes to Hollywood. The presentation will be Thursday July 28 at the Holmesville Church of Christ.

Holmesville was always 'home'

Lemon was born 15 years after her father originally left for Hollywood. She said he lived many places over the years, but Holmesville was always "home" to him.

"He had done a lot of this stuff before I was ever born," Lemon said. "He went back and forth, from Ohio to California, to New York. He went to school in Indiana. He was an only child, and his parents were dead before I was born, so there were no siblings for me to talk to about him.

"I had actually been putting together a scrapbook about my father before we ever got into doing this program," she continued. "I like to keep things organized like that. I have found things to add to my collection. I've pieced together a lot of things about places he lived and jobs he did, all done nearly 100 years ago before I was born. After college, he did stage shows throughout the Midwestern states."

Hott's travels

Hott attended the University of Southern California before finishing his studies at Tri-State College of Engineering (in Indiana), where he earned his degree in electrical engineering in 1932.

His life took him back and forth across the country from Ohio to California and back across the Midwest. He worked as an electrician on movie sets in Hollywood, served as a talent scout and held various stage productions.

In the late 1930s into the '40s, he operated a 16-mm film service and was manger of the film department of Twyman Films in Dayton. From 1942 to '45, he operated the motion picture laboratory at the United States Air Force Wright Field, also in Dayton.

A hobby turns into life work

One of Hott's hobbies was studying the history and culture of Native Americans, especially the Navajo on the reservation in Arizona and New Mexico. In 1944-45, he produced his first educational film about the Navajo Indians.

"In 1952, he was badly injured in an automobile accident. He was paralyzed and couldn't talk for a year," Lemon said. "He made himself learn how to walk and talk all over again. In 1954 and '55 he made his second educational movie on the Navajo, which he showed to schools and organizations. He made other motion pictures, too. I have reels and reels of films that I have no idea what's on them."

Hott went back to work as a photography lab technician at Wright-Patterson in 1960 until he suffered the first of two strokes. His second stroke in 1964 left him completely disabled, and he moved to Terrace View Nursing Home where he remained until his death in 1971.

Hott goes Hollywood

The second film on the Navajo that Hott made has been digitized and will be part of the presentation on July 28.

Holmes County Historical Society Executive Director Mark Boley was excited to tackle this project and help with the presentation, along with Melissa Patrick, another society member. While talking with Lemon one day about her father, the idea to do a program about Homer Hott going to Hollywood was born.

"One of my goals was to get this movie digitized," Boley said. "We're hoping after our presentation to notify the Navajo nation about this for their museum out in Arizona to see if they would want some of this to display. That's the next phase of this project."

This article originally appeared on The Daily Record: Holmes County Historical Society to have presentation on Hott's work in movies

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