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Film News: Merle Hayden, Subject of ‘Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians,’ Dies at 96

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RACINE, WIS – The last of the Lawsonians has now passed on. Merle Hayden, six days after he made an appearance on Closing Night at the Chicago Underground Film Festival (CUFF), died on June 10th, 2017, of natural causes in Racine, Wisconsin. He was 96 years old. His life was the subject of a World Premiere documentary shown at CUFF, “Manlife: The Last of the Lawsonians” on June 4th. Mr. Hayden made an appearance at that screening, lucidly participated in a Q&A and got to celebrate the achievement of his life’s work brought to a cinematic form.

The documentary – directed by Ryan Sarnowski – focused on Hayden, the last member of the utopian movement Lawsonomy, which sought to preserve the legacy of its Commander, Alfred Lawson. Lawson invented the United States’ first passenger airliner, but his company went bankrupt during the Great Depression. Dismayed by the economic policies at work, Lawson created the Direct Credits Society, a movement against what Lawson called “the one percent” (sound familiar?) The Society advocated for economic reform and “justice for everyone that harms no one.” Once the Depression ended, and the country went back to work, the movement faded. But there was one disciple left… Merle Hayden. The documentary tells the story of his loyalty to the cause, a relationship from the past and a life that still needs redemption.

Manlife
Merle Hayden, Appearing at CUFF on June 4th, 2017
Photo credit: Kristi Kucera for CUFF.org

It is extraordinary that Merle Hayden got one more lap around the track before he and his legacy moved on. The whole evening was a celebration of him, the documentary about his life and how he survived to that point. The documentary also won the Audience Award at the 2017 CUFF. A couple days after the event, Hayden went into hospice care, and passed away six days after that celebration. What a way to live, what a way to go.

RELATED: Film News: ‘Manlife: The Last of Lawsonians’ Wins Audience Award at 2017 Chicago Underground Film Festival

Merle J. Hayden, 1920-2017. For more information about CUFF, click here. The sponsoring organization of CUFF is IFP Chicago, a non-profit dedicated to the voice of independent film. For more information about IFP Chicago, click here.

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Writer, Editorial Coordinator
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2017 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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