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.
A couple, Jimmy Hollis and Mary Larey, had been on a date after which they had parked on the last road of a subdivision in Texarkana the night of February 22, 1946. At the time, Hollis was 25 and Larey was 19. After a double date to a movie, they had only been parked for about ten minutes when someone walked up to Hollis’ side of the car and shined a flashlight in his eyes. The man with the flashlight ordered the couple to exit the car. Hollis recalled that the man was armed with a gun. The man then demanded that Hollis remove his trousers. Hollis had initially resisted but complied, only to be struck hard in the head either with the gun or some other object. Hollis suffered a fractured skull in the attack. Thinking it was probably a robbery, Larey was scared but pulled Hollis’ billfold out of his trousers to show the man that Hollis had no money. The man then ordered Larey to open her purse. She replied that she didn’t have one and she was knocked to the ground by the assailant after being struck with an object. The man then ordered Larey to get up and run, which she did. The man quickly caught her and bewildered Larey by asking her why she was running. Larey was again knocked to the ground and this time was sexually assaulted. After the attack, the assailant disappeared and Larey was allowed to escape, managing to get to her feet and run to a nearby house.