Stardom didn't change Fred MacMurray at all
To Beaver Dam, Wisconsin, MacMurray was just "Bud."
Along Beaver Dam Lake and Beaver Dam River is the Dodge County, Wisconsin city called—appropriately enough—Beaver Dam. The city is part of the "Beaver Dam Micropolitan Statistical Area," which is itself included in the Greater Milwaukee metropolitan area. Among its notable one-time residents are pro wrestler Ric Flair, MLB player Addie Joss, and classic TV and film star Fred MacMurray. The actor was actually born in Kankakee, Illinois, before his family relocated to his mother's birthplace of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
While fans might expect MacMurray's decades-long career in Hollywood to affect his attitude and demeanor, residents of Beaver Dam were quick to defend MacMurray as just a regular guy.
"I always said, 'When you saw him walking down the street in the movies, it was the same way you saw him walk down the streets of Beaver Dam,'" said Mynie Bartell, who played football and basketball alongside MacMurray in high school. "The movies didn't change him at all."
Until his death in 1991, MacMurray maintained ties to Beaver Dam, frequently visiting the community and mentioning his hometown in many profiles and interviews. As his career grew, the Wisconsin town became a sanctuary away from his chaotic professional life.
John McKinstry, son of MacMurray's high school friend Randall, recalled a telling anecdote in the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen. McKinstry spoke of an instance wherein MacMurray's presence in a local store drew a large crowd, as fans waited for the actor to exit. "Somebody suggested he could escape the crowd by leaving through the back door," said McKinstry. "But [MacMurray] said, 'I'll have none of that. These people are my friends.'"
That respect was a two-way street. Unlike autograph hounds in Hollywood, the residents of Beaver Dam were able to give the actor space and treated him politely. McKinstry noted that MacMurray and his wife June Haver "were always impressed with the people of Beaver Dam. Here, people respected their privacy."
That small-town charm rubbed off on MacMurray in a big way, and he carried the town with him wherever he went. Even at the heights of his fame and success, MacMurray remained humble, referring to himself as "just a saxophone player from Beaver Dam."