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‘Grease’ was the word for Kim Bell’s 1950s birthday bash

MADISON – Julian Bell knew the exact bit of nostalgic for wife Kim’s surprise birthday bash. And “Grease” was the word.

For his 50th birthday in 2019, Kim planned a surprise party with 100-plus friends, dating back to high school. “I wanted to do something in return when her 50th rolled around,” Julian said.

COVID-19 canceled his plans for a blockbuster, family vacation to New York or Chicago. Julian brainstormed for a unique alternative.

Growing up in the late 70’s, one of Kim’s favorite movies was “Grease,” but she had only seen it on TV and always wanted to see the big-screen version.

Julian contacted H.D. Thakker, General Manager of Cineplanet 15. “He (scheduled) a private screening so I could bring my own DVD of ‘Grease.’ From that point, the whole plan took off!” he said.

Julian consulted with high-school friend Michael Anderson, now a Birmingham attorney, to “blow the whole idea out of proportion.” They decided to get a 1950’s car, show “Grease” in a theater, ask their sons to dress like ‘greasers’ and order authentic Johnny/T-Bird and Sandy/Pink-Lady costumes online for Julian and Kim. Neighbors Ron, Allison and Mac Jones agreed for delivery of costumes to their address, keeping the surprise for Kim.

Dan Terra’s staff treated Kim to a spa day. Bradley Morris and Leah Woodruff coordinated the 1950’s theme. Andi Hatton completed Kim’s facial. Bailey Carpenter handled a manicure/pedicure. Tayla Walker styled Kim’s hair in true Sandy fashion – an up-do.

Daisy Lane Gifts gift-wrapped the Sandy outfit, which Julian delivered to Dan Terra for Kim’s transformation, including a Pink Ladies jacket and Sandy’s scandalous red heels from the movie finale.

Julian and sons Jack and Max wore leather jackets, T-shirts and blue jeans. They greased back their hair for a 50’s look.

Julian’s search for a vintage car led (ironically) to Dow and Holly Canup, who were friends from 15-plus years ago. The Canups loaned their 1955 red-and-white Chevy Bel Air two-door hardtop.

At Cineplanet 15, Kim posed for photos with Julian, her sons and friends in the theater and with the 1955 Bel Air. Dawn Renfroe, Julian’s coworker, photographed the birthday surprise. (

“We sang, danced and enjoyed the movie theater all to ourselves. It was great,” Julian said.

Julian works as a sales representative for SEA Wire and Cable in Madison. Kim is Assistant Professor of Management with Emphasis in Statistics at Athens State University. Jack, 17, is a junior at James Clemens High School. Max, 13, is a Liberty Middle School eighth-grader.


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