The time pianist Don Shirley, the subject of the movie 'Green Book,' came to Wausau

Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali (left) portrays Pensacola native and musician Don Shirley (right) in the hit movie "Green Book" which won Golden Globes for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Screenplay and for Ali (Best Supporting Actor).   (Photo11: Getty Images)

Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali (left) portrays Pensacola native and musician Don Shirley (right) in the hit movie "Green Book" which won Golden Globes for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy), Best Screenplay and for Ali (Best Supporting Actor). (Photo11: Getty Images)

Keith Uhlig, Wausau Daily Herald

WAUSAU - Pianist Don Shirley, the subject of the Academy Award-nominated movie "Green Book", confronted racist Jim Crow laws when he performed in the South in the 1960s.

But when Shirley came to Wausau to perform in The Grand theater, he had to deal with another problem altogether: A guy dressed as a gorilla stepped on his birthday cake.

That's the way Barbara Lattimer of Wausau, a voice instructor at the Wausau Conservatory of Music, remembers it.

Barbara's husband of 50 years, businessman and music lover Tom Lattimer, arranged to have Shirley perform in central Wisconsin. She doesn't remember the exact year — she thinks it likely was in the early 1970s, after the era the movie portrays. But portions of that evening stuck with her for nearly 50 years, and the memories came flooding back when she went to see "Green Book."

Barbara enjoyed the movie, especially because it revived the time she met Shirley. It also brought back sweeping memories of Tom, who died in 2012 at age 75. It almost felt, Lattimer said, as if Tom were with her in the theater, or that he might show up as a character in the film.

"Seeing the film was so bittersweet for me," she said.