Ann Miller was the stage name of Johnnie Lucille Collier, born April 12, 1923 in Chireno, Nacogdoches County, Texas. Her father was John A. Collier, a criminal defense lawyer known for representing clients such as Baby Face Nelson, Machine Gun Kelly and the Barrow Gang. Her mother was the former Clara Emma Birdwell. As a young girl, Johnnie suffered from rickets and took dance classes to help strengthen her legs. She also studied piano and violin. The family moved to Houston, Texas where she lived until she was nine years old. Eventually her parents divorced and she moved with her mother to Los Angeles.
Category Archives: entertainers
(Image credit: FreddyFender.com)
Freddy Fender was born Baldemar Garcia Huerta in San Benito, Cameron County, Texas on June 4, 1937. His parents were Serapio and Margarita Garcia Huerta, who were migrant farm workers. Huerta was the oldest of four children and was raised around music, including lively “conjunto,” a traditional style of music that includes a blend of Tejano and references to German polka, including the use of an accordion. He performed as early as the age of ten on a Harlingen, Texas radio station. He dropped out of high school and lied about his age to join the United States Marine Corps. He served from 1954 to 1956. Huerta married in 1957 as he began to perform as “El Be-Bop Kid” and other stage names, doing covers of popular American hits of artists like Elvis Presley but singing them in Spanish. He and his wife Evangelina had five children. They divorced and remarried at one point, but otherwise were married for about forty-five years.
Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley to Lawrence Odell and Ella Pauline Drake Holley on September 7, 1939 in Lubbock, Texas. He began to perform in the country music genre in Lubbock at high school dances. He had won a singing contest at age five but got his first guitar when he was fourteen. Buddy and a former junior high school friend named Bob Montgomery formed a duo they called Buddy and Bob and played anywhere they could get a foothold. They also were the opening act when other artists would tour the area and two different times, they opened for Elvis Presley in 1955 and one time the same year for Bill Haley and the Comets (“Rock Around the Clock”). Buddy and some high school friends then formed a group they called Buddy Holly and the Crickets and were known around Lubbock for playing dances and also spots on local radio. The Crickets were Jerry Allison on drums, Joe Mauldin and Nicky Sullivan on guitars. Buddy did the lead singing.
(Image credit: Country Music Hall of Fame)
Born outside Perryville, Texas on January 12, 1926, Ray Price became one of the best known country singers of his era. His parents were Walter Clifton and Clara Mae Bradley Price. There were no other known children born to this union. His parents divorced when he was only three years old, with his father remaining on the Wood County farm and his mother moving to Dallas and remarrying Dominic Cimini. Ray spent time with both families at various times, mostly in Dallas where he graduated from Dallas Adamson. Until World War II, Price attended North Texas Agricultural College (NTAC), formerly known as Arlington College and now known as University of Texas at Arlington. He lied about his age and at 17, one year early, Ray enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1944, serving served in the Pacific until 1946.
(Image credit: Country Music Hall of Fame)
Lefty Frizzell was born in Corsicana, Texas in 1928 to Naaman Orville and Ades D. Cox Frizzell. His father was an oilfield worker who followed the drilling rigs. Lefty was the oldest of eight children and his family moved around as the oil exploration business required. There are several explanations of how he came by the nickname of Lefty. The one seeming told most often (and perhaps a legend) was that his classmates began calling him this after a schoolyard fight. He was called Sonny when he was growing up, but he was left handed, which is possibly also the source of his nickname.
Dan Blocker was well known as an actor on the long running series, Bonanza. He was born Bobby Dan Davis Blocker to Ora and Mary Davis Blocker in DeKalb, Texas in 1928. He weighed 14 pounds at birth and is still believed to be the largest baby ever born in Bowie County, Texas. After suffering the effects of the Great Depression, in 1934, the family moved to O’Donnell in West Texas, where his father ran a mercantile store.
On Sunday, October 23, 1960, the Texas Prison Rodeo performance in Huntsville was slated to have a personal appearance by actor John Wayne, in Texas to promote the release of his film “The Alamo” in Houston the following week. Scheduled to appear with Wayne was pop singer Frankie Avalon, who had been cast as the character known as “Smitty” in the film. Wayne’s production was only the fourth of fifty-one film or television projects that Avalon appeared in, but he was at a peak of his career in pop music. The previous year, his recording “Venus” was Number 1 for five weeks. Between 1958 and 1962 between two and three dozen of his recordings hit the Billboard chart. The rodeo arena was expected to be filled to capacity at around 30,000.