'To Kill a Mockingbird' Star Mary Badham Gets Teary Ovation as She Attends Broadway Adaptation

The child star of the original 1962 film classic gets a teary welcome from the cast of the adaptation currently on Broadway

Movies, books, music — and the people who create them — have an extraordinary ability to impact and connect people across generations.

Mary Badham‘s legendary child performance as ‘Scout’ Finch in the 1962 film adaptation of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is one “profound” example of this — especially for Celia Keenan-Bolger, the award-winning actress currently playing the iconic part in Aaron Sorkin’s new Broadway adaptation of Lee’s book.

So when the Oscar nominee, 66, recently attended a recent performance of To Kill a Mockingbird, Keenan-Bolger was left near tears, as she gave a heartfelt speech introducing Badham’s presence in the audience after the show.

“Thank you all so much for being such a generous audience and for spending your afternoon with us. I just want to take a quick moment, because we have a really special guest in the audience today,” Keenan-Bolger opened in a PEOPLE video exclusive.

Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes
Julieta Cervantes

“More than 60 years ago, Harper Lee’s book To Kill a Mockingbird was adapted into one of the great movies of all time,” she continued. “I have a vivid memory of watching it in my living room with my parents and the profound impact that Mary Badham’s performance as Scout Finch had on my life.

“And she is an enduring icon to me and to young girls for many generations, so you can imagine what it felt like to find out that she is here today,” she emotionally concluded, after which a stream of applause welcomed Badham who could be seen in the audience.

Photo Credit: Julieta Cervantes
Julieta Cervantes

Since the role made her famous as a child actress, Badham has continued to spread the messages from Harper Lee’s story. Last year, she visited the Episcopal School of Knoxville, TN., where she spoke to students about the importance of the book and her work in the film, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported.

“‘Mockingbird’ is such a great tool for us to use in education,” she told the outlet. “[It can help young people] find their way through all this.”

Now, thanks to TCM’s Big Screen Classics Series, Badham’s portrayal of Scout can be seen on the big screen once again. The classic will return to theaters for two days, March 24 and 27, with new commentary from Ben Mankiewicz, TCM’s primetime host, according to MovieWeb.

To Kill a Mockingbird is playing on Broadway now.

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