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.
Fort Phantom Hill was located southwest of Fort Griffin and northeast of Fort Chadbourne. The orders to create such a fort were issued by General William Belknap as he was beginning construction at the fort that would later be named for him, although the General died before he could complete either outpost. Construction began in 1851 under the leadership of Lt. Col. J. J. Abercrombie pursuant to the orders of General Persifor F. Smith, Belknap’s successor. Belknap’s plan had been for the outpost to be located in Coleman County, but Smith changed the orders to the current location. A few buildings were built of local stone, but others were built of wood or were even more temporary, such as pole huts. In retrospect, it would have been difficult to find a worse location from a physical standpoint, as it was poorly situated near dry or brackish river branches. Water had to be hauled several miles and there were no nearby wood sources for fires. Wood for construction was at least forty miles away.
(Image credit: Texas Co op Power Magazine)
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.
Woodward Maurice “Tex” Ritter was born on January 12, 1905 to James Everett and Elizabeth Matthews Ritter of Murvaul, Texas, in Panola County about 10 miles south of Carthage. He was the youngest of about nine children. His first name is sometimes spelled “Woodard” but in one account it is related that he was named for Dr. S. A. Woodward, the doctor who delivered him. Tex was the grandson of Benjamin Franklin Ritter, who had been brought to Texas as a baby in the early to mid 1830s from Tennessee.
This coming weekend will mark the anniversary of San Jacinto Day. In our mind’s eye, we can envision what that may have looked like, especially after visiting the San Jacinto Monument. Some will also think of Henry Huddle. His name may not be too familiar to many Texans, but most likely just about everyone might recognize at least one of his works. San Jacinto Day is drawing near, and the painting called “The Surrender of Santa Anna” (pictured below) commemorates the famous battle.