Is ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ based on a true story?
There is a critically acclaimed film out now called ‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’.
You might think it is based on a true story. The writer says it isn’t.
Writer Martin McDonagh says he heard about billboards ( or maybe saw them- the stories vary) somewhere “between Louisiana and Florida” criticizing the local Police about an unsolved homicide.
Well I happen to know that “somewhere between Louisiana and Florida” is a little town called Vidor, Texas.
Vidor, Texas has had a series of billboards on I-10 ( the main highway that leads from Lousiana through Vidor, Beaumont and then onto the mega city of Houston).
Several different billboards were placed on the roadside. The one I saw said
” Welcome to Vidor, Texas where you can get away with murdering a woman! Why? Ask Police Chief _________ ”
This was about the Kathy Page Case.
A young woman named Kathy Page died under mysterious circumstances in Vidor, Texas in 1991. Her father, James Fulton, is convinced Kathy’s estranged husband (Steven Page) was responsible and he ( Fulton) is outraged that the Vidor Police couldn’t convict him (Page).
He paid for a series of billboards criticizing the Vidor Police.
There is an urban legend that the Vidor Area Ku Klux Klan had posted a billboard on the edge of town saying “N—ger Don’t let the sun set on you in Vidor”. Many people say they remember this sign, and many say there are pictures of it….. but I haven’t seen them (yet).
In the acclaimed documentary ” The Thin Blue Line” one of the characters was from vidor and they show a klan sign nailed to a tree. But its just a plank with the letters “kkk” painted on it. Not really a billboard.
I think many folks who drive past the “Murder a woman” billboard on I- 10 THINK they have seen the infamous Klan sign. But the Kathy Page case has nothing to with racism or the KKK.
I was living in Beaumont, Texas working at a TV station. I can remember all the news stories about the desegregation of nearby Vidor Texas, and the national hoopla when the last African American resident of the Vidor housing complex left and then was killed 12 hours later in a rough neighborhood in Beaumont, Texas.
I spent 5 years researching and shooting an independent documentary on the death of Bill Simpson.
I didn’t find the story I thought I would find. But I told truth as best I could. I really think the movie Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri was at least partially inspired by the Kathy Page case in Vidor Texas.
The billboards at least. The rest of that movie has NO connection to Vidor or the Page case. Its about a mother ( not a father) of a young girl ( in the movie she seems to be between 18 to 20) who frustrated that the local police haven’t found who killed her daughter. Beyond that, there isn’t ANY connection to what happened in Vidor. None of the characters or plot points match up to the Kathy Page case. So the billboards may have been based on the Vidor billboards, but the rest of the story is all fictional.
Here is my documentary. I cover the billboards at: 4.05