James E. Brown was born in Desdemona, Texas to Floyd Estle Brown and Cordie Mae Bowen Brown on March 22, 1920. In 1920, the Brown family was living in Desdemona during Eastland County’s early oil boom. They had previously lived in Waco but had followed the oil business to Eastland County for a short time before returning to Waco when James was just three months old. James was the second of four siblings and though he was the only sibling not to be born there, he considered Waco to be his home town. He graduated from Waco High School in 1936 where he helped the school tennis team win a championship that year. Brown attended Schreiner Institute in Kerrville for one year before enrolling at Baylor University on a tennis scholarship. Along the way, he played football briefly until injuries (broken eardrum and cracked kneecap) led him to concentrate on tennis. Brown’s family remained in Waco and for a number of years lived in Brook Oaks and North Waco, in the general vicinity of Cameron Park. At the time of his father F. E. Brown’s death, the elder Brown was said to have lived in Waco for fifty years. He and Cordie Mae had divorced at one point, but they are both buried at Oakwood Cemetery.Read the rest of this entry »
Category Archives: entertainers
Actress Carolyn Jones was born in Amarillo, Potter County, Texas on April 28, 1930 to Chloe Jeanette Southern and Julius Alfred Jones. Her parents separated during the early days of the Depression and her mother and younger sibling lived with her mother’s birth mother and her husband. Carolyn’s mother had been born in Texas and adopted by a family named the Southerns. The last name of Carolyn’s birth mother and her husband was Baker. As a child Carolyn is said to have suffered from asthma but did well in theater and speech in high school. Her love for films led her to go to California and be accepted into acting school, and she graduated in 1950. Some sources give her date of birth to be 1933 leading to the possible conclusion that she was underage when she left Texas for California to begin acting school. However, various newspaper accounts state that she graduated from Amarillo High School in 1947.Read the rest of this entry »
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Ivory Joe Hunter, 63, who wrote between 2,000 and 3,000 country, blues and popular songs, died Friday of lung cancer in a Memphis, hospital. Among his best-known numbers are “My Wish Came True,” “I Need You So,” “Ain’t That Lovin’ You, Baby,” “and “I Almost Lost My Mind.” – The Kane Republican (Kane, Pennsylvania) Sat. Nov 9, 1974.
Ivory Joe Hunter was born to a musical family in 1914 (some accounts say 1911) in Kirbyville, south of Jasper, Texas. There is not much between Kirbyville and the Texas-Louisiana border other than farm land and woods. His father Dave Hunter was a guitar player and laborer and his mother Anna Smith Hunter was a gospel singer and a housewife. In the 1920 federal census, Ivory Joe was one of twelve children. Both of his parents seem to have died while he was young. By the 1930 census, Ivory Joe was living with an older sister Georgia and her family, along with several more of the Hunter siblings in the Port Arthur area where he attended school. Some accounts say that Ivory was a nickname, but as far back as the 1920 census, he was listed with the name Ivory Joe Hunter and his name was given to him by his mother.Read the rest of this entry »
A number of popular performers have come from the Port Neches and Port Arthur area. Singer Johnny Preston was born John Preston Courville, Jr. in Port Arthur, Texas on August 18, 1939 to John Preston Courville, Sr. and Margaret Schexnayder Courville. As a youth, he sang in high school choirs and around the state. Johnny attended Port Arthur College as he began his singing career. Using the stage name Johnny Preston, he formed a vocal group called The Shades and was appearing in a local club in Port Neches at the time he was noticed by club owner J. P. Richardson, who recorded under the name “The Big Bopper.” Richardson was a singer/songwriter and had written a teenage tragedy song (a somewhat popular genre at the time) called “Running Bear” that that tells the story of two Native American youths who drown in a swollen river as they attempted to get together. The tune was recorded in a Houston studio and became a hit record for the nineteen year old Preston in 1958. By the time of its release, Richardson had been tragically killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa in 1959 along with the aircraft’s pilot, singer Richie Valens and fellow Texan and singer Buddy Holly.Read the rest of this entry »
Arthur Wilson was born in Tyler, Smith County, Texas. There is some question about his actual date of birth, but it is often shown as being April 3, 1886 with his mother’s maiden name being Lamkin and his father’s name being Wilson. In some accounts he is shown as being younger, but in the 1900 federal census, he is listed as being fifteen, living south of downtown Tyler with his mother Manda Wilson and brother George. Accounts of his early life often state that by age twelve, Arthur was performing in minstrel shows and that his nickname was adopted in the 1920s from his performances singing an Irish tune “Mr. Dooley.”Read the rest of this entry »