On August 6, 1939, the Harlingen, Texas Valley Morning Star read “Donat Stars In New Film” followed by the sub heading ‘Goodbye Mr. Chips” in Mercedes, Texas. The article went on to describe the latest film of popular leading man Robert Donat. Based on the James Hilton novel of the same name, the film tells the story of the life and teaching career of Charles Edward Chipping, a Latin teacher at a British boys’ school. Donat’s character falls for and marries a beautiful and flashy young woman named Katherine, played by actress Greer Garson in her debut performance. Revealed in a series of flashbacks, the film portrays the events in Chipping’s life and the individuals who were part of it. Donat would go on to win an Oscar for Best Actor. The film was the first major role in the long and successful career of Garson. She was also nominated for an Oscar that year, but the award went instead to Vivian Leigh for her performance in “Gone With The Wind.”
Category Archives: films
Fess Elisha Parker, Jr. was born on August 16, 1924 in Fort Worth, Texas to Fess Parker, Sr. and Mackie Allen Parker. His father had been born in California, but his mother was born in Texas. His paternal grandparents Otis L. and Cora Lightfoot Parker had been a farming family in Comanche County, Texas and both are buried there. Fess grew up in San Angelo and was a multi sport athlete there. He graduated from San Angelo High School in 1939 and did a hitch in the United States Navy before coming back to Texas and enrolling at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene in 1943.
Edna Browning Kahly was born on January 22, 1886 to Maurice (or Morris) and Minnie Nell Jones Kahly in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Nothing is easily found about her father, but by 1900, Minnie Nell, her mother, Edna and her sister were living with Minnie’s mother in Milwaukee. Around 1903 Edna was sent to Texas to live with relatives in Fort Worth and about three years later in 1906, she married Samuel William Gladney. Sam was born in 1877 in Commanche County to Thomas Lacy and Joyce Cathron Bowdon Gladney in 1882. Tom was a rancher there in West Texas. By 1900, Sam was 22 and living with the family in Gainesville, Cooke County, Texas.
Debbie (Mary Frances) Reynolds was born April 1, 1932 in El Paso, Texas to Raymond Francis and Maxine N. Harmon Reynolds. Raymond had been born in 1903 in Whitewright, Grayson County, Texas. His father was a rural school teacher in 1910. By 1920, Raymond’s father was working in the Post Office and the family lived in Dallas. As of 1930, Raymond and Maxine had married and were living with Maxine’s family in El Paso. Raymond was working as a carpenter for a railroad company. That same year, their eldest son William Owen Reynolds was born to Raymond and Maxine, followed by Mary Frances (likely named for Raymond’s sister) in 1932. Raymond lost his job in Texas during the Depression. Reynolds was not embarrassed by her humble upbringing. She would say of their life in El Paso that her mother took in washing and that they always had plenty to eat, even if her father had to go out in the desert and shoot rabbits. By 1940, the new family had moved to Burbank, California where Raymond was working as a “tinder man” for Southern Pacific.
Giant was the 1956 film adaptation of Edna Ferber’s epic novel of the same name. Ferber’s 1952 best seller was about an enterprise reportedly modeled after the legendary King Ranch of south Texas. The film tells the story of a ranching family (the Benedicts) in Texas, along with their romances and conflicts, set in the early to the mid 1900s. The project was bankrolled by Warner Brothers with George Stevens as director. The script was adapted by Fred Guiol who had worked with Stephens before. Original music was composed by Dimitri Tiomkin, who already had amassed a lengthy and impressive resume even by 1955.