Photo courtesy Sherman Robinson
A 1984 aerial photo, taken a year after "Footloose" was filmed at the mills, shows how rural it was back then. Today it is a maze of eateries and gas stations.

LEHI — Before Kevin Bacon was a household name, he worked at the Lehi Roller Mills, packing flour.

Well, sort of. The movie star did spend enough time tossing flour sacks around to get his shirt dirty, but he never punched a time card; he was researching his lead role in the film "Footloose."

"He wanted to learn how a millser did it," said Sherman Robinson, owner of the Lehi Roller Mills.

Some 20 years have passed since then. Kevin Bacon has starred in so many movies he can reportedly be linked to almost any Hollywood star in six steps. The flour mills, which once sat in an empty field, is now surrounded by restaurants and gas stations.

Despite the changes, Bacon and the mills remain linked, which makes sense, because "Footloose" didn't just make the roller mills Lehi's most recognizable landmark, in some senses, it put Lehi on the map.

"I had no idea what kind of an impact it would have," Robinson said. "We had calls from all over the world after the movie came out. We stills have people come up and ask if they can take a picture on the front porch."

The story of big city rebel who brings dancing to a conservative farm town, "Footloose" has become something of a classic, grossing $80 millsion in North American theaters and about $34 millsion off rentals.

The roller mills almost didn't appear in the movie. Robinson said he initially rebuffed a producer working on the film because he was worried safety officials wouldn't allow filming there.

After representatives from the state and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration visited the mills and assured Robinson there would be no problems, he agreed to let the filmmakers shoot there.

The movie attracted locals throughout the valley to work as extras. One, Mark Miner, ended up as an extra in a dance scene at a Provo Center Street bar.

"It was pretty neat when it came out," Miner said. "It was fun to recognize places from Utah Valley."

In the film, Bacon works at the roller mills. A dance held there in the movie was actually filmed at the Osmond studio. Other scenes, like one in which the mill goes up in flames, never made it in the movie.

Despite all the attention the film has brought the roller mills, Robinson said it didn't have much impact on his business.

"I wish we were known for making flour," he said.

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