September 15, 2009
Inspiration for movie 'Norma Rae' dies at 68
By EMERY P. DALESIO, Associated Press Writer – Mon Sep 14, 4:38 pm ET
RALEIGH, N.C. – Crystal Lee Sutton, whose fight to unionize Southern textile plants with low pay and poor conditions was dramatized in the film "Norma Rae," has died. She was 68.
Sutton died Friday in a hospice after a long battle with brain cancer, her son, Jay Jordan, said Monday. "She fought it as long as she could and she crossed on over to her new life," he said.
Actress Sally Field portrayed a character based on Sutton in the movie and won a best-actress Academy Award.
Field said in a statement Sutton was "a remarkable woman whose brave struggles have left a lasting impact on this country and without doubt, on me personally. Portraying Crystal Lee Sutton in 'Norma Rae,' however loosely based, not only elevated me as an actress, but as a human being."
In 1973, Sutton was a 33-year-old mother of three earning $2.65 an hour folding towels at J.P. Stevens when a manager fired her for pro-union activity.
In a final act of defiance before police hauled her out, Sutton, who had worked at the plant for 16 years, wrote "UNION" on a piece of cardboard and climbed onto a table on the plant floor. Other employees responded by shutting down their machines.
Posted by cat at 10:46 PM