Posted by William Nunnelley on 2006-10-11

Samford University will dedicate Bonnie Bolding Swearingen Hall Saturday, Oct. 14, honoring a 1955 graduate who studied at the Pasadena (Calif.) Playhouse and won movie and television roles in the 1950s and later became a champion for charitable causes.

Bonnie Bolding Swearingen Hall encompasses Ben Harrison Theatre, Bolding Studio and the Samford Art Gallery, and joins Wright Center Concert Hall and Jane Hollock Brock Hall to form Samford's fine arts complex.

Swearingen Hall will be dedicated at 11 a.m. in Bolding Studio following tours of the facility at 10 a.m.

"Bonnie Bolding Swearingen's life has taken her to points around the globe and to opportunities that are far-removed from her days as a student at Samford University," said Samford President Andrew Westmoreland. "Throughout her journey, she has sought to remain connected to her family and to her alma mater, always cherishing the relationships that have been a mainstay in her life. We are grateful for the association with Bonnie and for the investment she has made in Samford's future."

Bonnie Bolding studied drama and was active in numerous organizations as a Samford undergraduate. She was drum major for the band, a cheerleader, played the female lead in eight college plays, was named Miss Samford (then Miss Entre Nous) and was selected for Who's Who in American Colleges.

She earned a scholarship to the Pasadena Playhouse in the Miss Alabama contest. There, she won a role in the movie, "Bundle of Joy," starring Eddie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, and ultimately appeared in eight movies and such television shows as "Gunsmoke," "Cheyenne," "The Alcoa Hour," "Have Gun, Will Travel" and "Sugarfoot."

The Decatur, Ala., native married John Swearingen, chairman of Standard Oil Company of Illinois, in 1969. They have lived in Chicago since that time.

She has raised money for numerous charitable causes including the Chicago bicentennial in 1976, the Chicago Lyric Opera Ballet, the Boys Club program (serving as a national director) and others. She has been a generous supporter of Samford.

Swearingen, one of nine children of a Church of Christ minister, has several siblings and numerous friends residing in Birmingham. She visits the city regularly.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. The Wall Street Journal ranks Samford 1st nationally for student engagement and U.S. News & World Report ranks Samford 66th in the nation for best undergraduate teaching and 104th nationally for best value. Samford enrolls 5,683 students from 47 states and 19 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference, and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.