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.”Continue reading Arthur “Dooley” Wilson
The actress known as Ginger Rogers (Virginia Katherine McMath) was born July 16, 1911 to William Eddins McMath and the former Lela Emogene Owens in Independence, Missouri. Her birth father was an electrical engineer and her mother was a reporter, scriptwriter and movie producer. Her parents separated soon after she was born and Ginger was raised by her mother and maternal grandparents in Kansas City. When she was nine years old, Lela married John Logan Rogers. Ginger took her stepfather’s last name, although she was likely never formally adopted. Her mother wrote for a local newspaper in Fort Worth, Texas covering entertainment, exposing Ginger to the field and the life of entertainment. Ginger won a Charleston dance contest when she was fourteen years old and is known to have begun appearing in vaudeville shows after that.Continue reading Ginger Rogers
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.”
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.
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.