Be Sure and Tell Large Marge I Sent You: The Grave of Alice Nunn

October 24, 2019 — A few years back, I tried to convince you that Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure is a Halloween movie. It wasn’t an article gimmick. I believe it. Still do. The evidence is throughout the film.

And if I’m right, that makes Large Marge, the ghost trucker with the Bride of Frankenstein hair and the lumberjacket, a Halloween icon. Maybe not up there with Jack Skellington, but at least right there with the Clown with the Tear-Away Face. She would need her own movie to ascend higher to, say, Sam from Trick ‘r Treat status.

In fact, I would love a Large Marge movie. It would tell the story of her violent death on Halloween night, after which she returns to enact vengeance on the drunk-driving teens who killed her and all their parents in high positions who covered it up. “Be sure and tell ’em Large Marge sent you” would go up there with “Be My Victim” and “Vut, no dip?”

Alas, the actress who played her, Alice Nunn, is dead. So let’s go pay our respects to a key player in our childhood traumas.

Alice Nunn was born in 1927 in Jacksonville, Florida, and made a career in theater, TV, and movies. She mostly played bit parts and guest appearances, but she was everywhere. You could find her on Murder, She Wrote, Simon and Simon, Knight Rider, WKRP, Happy Days, The Cosby Show, The Love Boat, as well as small roles in movies that ranged from to Who’s That Girl? (with Madonna) to Mommie Dearest and Johnny Got His Gun. She also found herself in the horror genre here and there, including spots in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, Trick or Treat (the rock n’ roll ghost one), and Dark Night of the Scarecrow.

But nothing was more terrifying than those two minutes in the truck cab with the skinny dude in the red bow tie.

She died in Hollywood in 1988, three years after Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure debuted, and was buried across the country in Old Jacksonville City Cemetery in her hometown. Old Jacksonville City Cemetery is a small, but atmospheric plotpatch, full of palms and Spanish Moss. Creepy not so much in a ghost-on-a-foggy-road-at-night kind of way, but more like a Swamp Thing and Frogs kind of way.

The cemetery is on E. Union Street and was established in 1852. Most of its notability comes from its age and the fact that Confederate soldiers are buried there. The city presses in on it from all sides, and signs indicate it might not be the most peaceful place for resting in. And those signs are literal signs that read, “Police-patrolled” and “Cameras in Use” and “Respect the Dead.” On my visit an empty cop car was parked right in the middle of the place, reminding me of that scene in Return of the Living Dead where the zombies take out the police, and then climb into their car and radio back to the station to “Send more brains.”

Nunn’s grave is marked by a simple stone plaque not too far from the front gates in a section on the right. A tree festooned with Spanish moss shades her place of moldy repose. The stone rectangle looks nothing like the gravestone memorial in the diner in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (although that would’ve been a slick move). It doesn’t say much, either, just the basic info about her life. And that’s fine. It’s not the real testament to her life, anyway. This is: