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Harry James

Trumpeter Harry Haag James was born on March 15, 1916 to Everett Robert James and Maybelle Myrtle James in Albany, Georgia. His father played trumpet and was working as a conductor for traveling circus bands. His mother also had a circus background, but as a performer. She had been an acrobat and horseback rider.

Everett had once been associated with the Mighty Haag Circus, owned by Ernest Haag. The company dated back to the 1890s and started out as a circus that moved from place to place first by wagons, then by rails and finally on to trucks. Another group that Everett had been associated with was the Christy Brothers Circus, founded by George Washington Christy. This group dated back to around 1919 and made appearances all around the country, but wintered in Texas, as Christy had acquired a home in Houston. One anecdote about Christy was that on one occasion, the train that the circus was traveling on experienced a train wreck. Undaunted, Christy broke out his tents and other hardware. He and his personnel set up along side the track and gave a show while the rail lines were repaired.

Harry was raised around music. He learned to play the drums at an early age and added the trumpet to his list of instruments a bit later. He took to the trumpet and by his early teens was playing with a circus band. As a result of his early experience, he had endurance and developed the beautiful tone that he became known for.

Everett and Maybelle eventually relocated to Texas around the early 1930s, settling in Beaumont where Everett continued to be associated with regional circuses. The Depression took a heavy toll on the circus business and many of them shut down. The James family elected to stay in Beaumont and Everett began teaching at a local parochial school. Already a prodigy, Harry had been invited to play in the high school band when he was still in junior high.

Harry began playing professionally fresh out of high school, making his first recordings as early as 1936. The following year, when he was eighteen, he was invited to join the Benny Goodman swing band, and he accepted. James quickly rose to prominence in the band, becoming a featured soloist. Harry was with the Goodman band for about two years before launching out on his own. The field was crowded with good bands competing in the same genre, but James’ group slowly gained a following as he was able to add key players and vocalists.

Harry James, Everett and Maybelle – Image credit: Stephen F. Austin University

He was first married to vocalist Louise Tobin, later to actress Betty Grable and finally to Joan Boyd. His career continued to be strong, despite the eventual decline in popularity of swing band music, and Harry was able to adapt to later styles. Harry also began to make appearances in film and on television as he continued to perform in music venues. He has a long list of film and television appearances and an even longer list of soundtrack credits. He also continued to record his music.

Harry passed away in 1983 from lung cancer. He is buried in Las Vegas, Nevada, where he resided for many years. His honors include being inducted into the Big Band and Jazz Hall of Fame. The Museum of the Gulf Coast’s Music Hall of Fame in Port Arthur also lists James as a music legend. In addition, he has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


Harry James – IMDB

Harry James – Discogs.com

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Posted by on October 14, 2021 in biography, entertainers

 

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Marion Stegeman Hodgson, Winning Her Wings

Marian Stegeman Hodgson was born December 16, 1921 in Athens, Georgia. She earned her degree in journalism from the University of Georgia in the spring of 1941, not quite six months prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Around that time the federal government had instituted a flight training program called the Civilian Pilot Training Program, or CPT, and during her senior year, she was selected to participate. Part of the planning was to admit one female for every ten male trainees.

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Posted by on October 7, 2021 in aviation, biography, world war 2

 

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Ralph Fults

Ralph Smith Fults was born January 23, 1911 to Audy Barlow Fults and Sophia Delia Bush Fults in Anna, Texas in Collin County. The couple resided in North Texas as early as 1900, per the federal census. Audy Fults was a mail carrier in Collin County and Ralph was the third of eight children born to the couple. Shortly after Ralph was born, the couple moved the short distance to McKinney.

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Posted by on September 30, 2021 in bonnie and clyde, outlaws and crimes

 

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Sam Rayburn

Samuel Taliferro Rayburn was born January 6, 1882 on a farm near Kingston, Roane County, Tennessee to William Marion Rayburn and Martha Clementine Waller Rayburn. He was the seventh of their eleven children. His father, William Marion Rayburn, had served in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. The Rayburns were a farming family. Sam was five years old when the family moved to Fannin County, Texas in 1887, settling on a forty acre farm where they raised cotton. He received his education in Texas. There was not enough money to pay for all of the siblings’ schooling and the family story was that Sam was sent off to college with $25 cash from his family. Rayburn enrolled at East Texas Normal College (later known as East Texas State and Texas A&M University-Commerce) and worked his way through the early days of his schooling by sweeping floors for $3 per month. While he was a student, he began to work as a teacher. Upon completing his Bachelor of Science degree, he enrolled in the law school at University of Texas in Austin. He did not earn a law degree, as far as we can determine, but upon completion of his studies, he was admitted to the state bar of Texas in 1908. His political career had begun two years earlier when he won an election to the Texas House of Representatives. Rayburn served two more terms before being elected in 1912 as a United States Representative.

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Posted by on September 23, 2021 in biography

 

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Joe Tex

The singer by this name was born on August 8, 1935 (some sources give the year to be 1933) as Joseph Arrington, Jr. in Rogers, Bell County, Texas and went to school in McNair, just outside Baytown. His parents were Joseph Arrington and Cherrie Warren Arrington. He was a high school athlete and played in the band. As a youth, he won a talent contest and was invited to perform in New York City’s Apollo Theater. Early on, he adopted the stage name of Joe Tex.

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Posted by on September 16, 2021 in black history, entertainers, people named Tex

 

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