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Freeman to Star in Beautiful Jim Key Movie



Dr. William Key (Bill), a self-taught veterinarian and former slave, along with his “best friend” Jim Key, a horse, are well- respected within the equine community, history buffs and children’s library’s alike.

From 1897-1906, over nine years of continuous performances, Doc Key and Jim captivated the nation by demonstrating the “power of kindness” employed by Bill Key in cultivating Jim’s inexplicable abilities to read, write, spell, do math, tell time, sort mail, use a cash register and a telephone, cite Bible passages, and engage in political debate.


As Jim continued his studies, the Doc taught him to tell time, know the days of the week, and recognize flags of different countries.

Even as a child, Bill was recognized for having extraordinary horse whispering and animal healing skills – using only kindness and no force. Educated by his master, tanner John W. Key, and his master's sons in Shelbyville, Tenn., Bill later chose to protect the boys during the Civil War, serving the Rebels in the battles of Fort Donelson, Stones River and Shiloh, while also serving the Yankees and fellow slaves along the Underground Railroad. Sentenced to hang as a double-agent, he escaped thanks to his poker-playing genius. After the war, he went back to Shelbyville, paid off the mortgage on his dead master's fallen property, and supported his master's heirs for the rest of their days.

Award winning actor, Morgan Freeman recently signed on to portray Dr. Jim Key in the upcoming movie, Beautiful Jim Key. Production is set to kick-off in early 2015.


Not long after their retirement in 1906, Monk, Jim and the Doc retired to their home in Shelbyville, where all three are buried today.

Click Here for additional information about the history of this pair.

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