Thieves snatch Mercer memorial

Sunday, July 21, 2002

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The Friends of Johnny Mercer society wanted to honor the memory of the Savannah native, who wrote the words to "Moon River," by posting two small green signs on a bridge over the Moon River.

But the signs, which feature Mercer's silhouette, a copy of his signature and the words "Moon River," were gone before the group knew they'd been put up by the state Department of Transportation.

"I'd keep looking every day to see if they were up," said David Oppenheim, president of the society. "Some people just have to spoil something nice for everybody."

One sign was found Wednesday afternoon, abandoned in the mud.

Mercer died in 1976 at 66, after surgery for a brain tumor. "Moon River" became the well-loved classic from the film "Breakfast at Tiffany's," which earned Mercer a 1961 Academy Award, one of his four, with Henry Mancini.

The organization spent $300 on the signs and planned to invite the Mercer family to an official unveiling.

The signs have been stolen four other times.

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