Charley Pride, 1974.
Charley Pride, the famed country singer, died this past weekend, December 12, 2020, just after receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Country Music Association.
This KXAS story from 1982 shares an overview of Pride’s beginnings in country music, the fame he achieved, and his thoughts on being a Black country musician.
Before his career in music, Pride was a professional baseball player in the Negro American League, pitching for the Memphis Red Sox between 1953 and 1958. As Pride began to pursue his singing career, he and his family moved to Texas, where they would set up roots in Dallas. Pride’s transition into music began slowly, but as he recorded hit singles in the 1970s, his popularity grew. In this photo, Pride joins Bobbie Wygant to share his 1974 album Country Feelin’.
Bobbie Wygant and Charley Pride, 1974.
In the course of his career, Pride produced 41 studio albums, won numerous awards for his music, and was one of only three Black members of the Grand Ole Opry. Pride found challenge and joy in his career as a country musician, and his artistry will live on.
Charley Pride signs autographs, 1970.
Find more NBC 5/KXAS Archival Materials related to Charley Pride on The Portal to Texas History.
Benji, the 1974 film written, directed and produced by Joe Camp, was filmed in and around McKinney and Denton, Texas in 1973. The film features a mix breed dog who saves a brother and sister from a kidnapping after their father says the stray dog can’t live with the family.
WBAP-TV caught these wonderful behind the scenes shots of filming. Frank Inn, owner of Higgins (the original Benji) tells how he adopted Higgins from the animal shelter, and has Higgins perform some of his many tricks. The haunted house they’re filming in is located at 1104 South Tennessee St., McKinney, TX, has since been refurbished and is currently a bed and breakfast.
Higgins is considered one of the most famous dog actors of the 60s and 70s, appearing in sitcoms and movies, with Benji being his final film. Higgins’ daughter Benjean took over the role of Benji for later films
Back to the Future is a cult classic trilogy, that was just as popular upon first release as it is today. The original film was released 35 years ago in 1985, and the characters, story, and whimsy made it an instant hit.
Bobbie Wygant interviewed writer and director Robert Zemeckis in 1985, shortly after the films release. Zemeckis describes the difficult schedule required for filming to accommodate lead actor Michael J. Fox’s schedule while also shooting for the hit television show Family Ties.
KXAS reported, around the Christmas shopping season in 1985, that skateboards had become a popular gift item because of the film, where Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) often rides into a scene on one. Reporter Tim Smith notes the cool move McFly does, kicking his board over, which any kid would love to do!
Back to the Future was so popular that Part II was released in 1989, and Part III in 1990. The series are considered some of the best science fiction films ever made, and their popularity led to video games, comic books, an animated series, and plenty of memorabilia being created around the franchise.
Within the KXAS/NBC 5 Collection there is additional b-roll footage of the film, if you want to watch the film’s highlights.
The world’s first powdered soft drink was created and produced in Fort Worth, TX. Paul Hollis invented Poly Pop in 1922, years before Kool-Aid would come on the market. These photos from the NBC 5/KXAS Photography Collection show Paul Hollis and workers at his company headquarters in Fort Worth, TX.
Paul Hollis with Poly Pop products, 1948.
Hollis invented the drink mix on his own, and had local residents do the taste testing. The final recipe was simple – citric acid, certified color, caffeine, and artificial flavor. People just had to add water and sugar and stir, to have a tasty beverage.
Hollis ran the Big State Company, through which he manufactured Poly Pop, in a building near his home in Fort Worth. Penny and nickel sized packets of the powder were sold. The penny size could flavor one quart of water while the nickel size could flavor eight quarts. At its height of popularity in the 1930s, the Poly Pop factory had 200 employees.
Paul Hollis and workers at Big State Company headquarters, 1948.
The drink was very successful and made Hollis a wealthy man. He gave back some of that wealth to the people of Fort Worth, especially children, by sponsoring a baseball team and giving gifts to children each year around the holidays.
In 1927, Kool-Aid hit the market, and Hollis’ understated advertising of Poly Pop – “Good Old Poly Pop” – just couldn’t compete over the years. Hollis sold the Poly Pop recipe in 1953. Hollis died in 1962, in Fort Worth.
Paul Hollis with Poly Pop products, 1948.
Learn more about Poly Pop, Paul Hollis, and Fort Worth history on the Hometown by Handlebar blog.
55 years ago, the Voting Rights Act was passed on August 6, 1965. This Act was initially created to ensure that racial minorities, especially in the South, were not being denied their right to vote by prohibiting state and local governments from creating discriminatory voting laws. The Act focused on voter suppression in Southern states, based on previous minority voter suppression activity.
Before the original expiration date of the Voting Rights Act in 1970, Congress and the Nixon administration began proposing possible revisions. This script shows the proposal of limiting the Act to apply only in Georgia and South Carolina.
Voting Rights Act news script, March 6, 1970.
One major revision made in 1970 was that provisions in the Act would apply nationwide, such as the ban on tests or devices used to suppress voters. The Act was approved by Congress and signed by President Nixon in 1970.
Voting Rights news script, November 11, 1969.
The 1970 amendments also included a provision to allow citizens as young as 18 years old to vote in local, state, and national elections. President Nixon challenged the constitutionality of lowering the voting age in local and state elections, and the 1970 court case Oregon v. Mitchell upheld only the lowering of voting age for federal elections. Lowering of the voting age to 18 for all elections was addressed the following year with the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution.
Voting Rights Act news script, June 22, 1970.
When brought up again in 1975, the suppression of those in language minorities was brought into the Act, requiring areas with large numbers of non-English speakers to provide ballots and voting information in those minority languages.
The Act was to expire again in 1982, and was again re-approved with additional amendments. As can be seen from this 1981 news clip of a League of Women Voters representative, there was still much concern over the impending discrimination that would occur if the Act was not extended.
Amendments and extension of the Voting Rights Act were approved again in 1992 and 2006. The 2006 Act was scheduled to expire after 25 years, and so should come up for revisions in Congress again around 2030.
Curtis Cokes, a Dallas native, was an all-around athlete, who began his professional boxing career in 1958 at the age of 21. He worked hard to become the World Boxing Association’s Welterweight World Champion in 1966, at the age of 30. Throughout his career, many trainers approached him to move to different cities to pursue his sport, but Cokes was loyal to his hometown, and became one of the most notable boxers to come out of Dallas.
This news script from 1963 describes Cokes as a clear contender for the Welterweight World Champion title.
During his fifth match against Manuel Gonzalez, on August 24, 1966, Cokes took the title of Welterweight World Champion. This news script describes Cokes’ return to Dallas after the win, and his celebratory car purchase.
Cokes retained his title through April 1969, defeating many who sought to take it, until his April 18, 1969 match against José Nápoles. 11 fights later, in 1972, Cokes retired from boxing. Out of his 80 career fights he won 62, with 30 of those wins ending in a knock out.
Towards the end of his professional career, Cokes took on a major role in the Hollywood film, Fat City, which came out in 1972 with rave reviews. The film was about boxing, but surprisingly the character that Cokes played was not a boxer.
After his retirement, Cokes stayed in the world of boxing by becoming a trainer for younger boxers. He also shared his knowledge of the sport by co-authoring the book The Complete Book of Boxing for Fighters and Fight Fans, in 1980, which is still considered one of the best books breaking down the art and science of boxing. Curtis Cokes’ Home of Champion Boxing Gym in Dallas, which Cokes owned and operated, helped him give back to his Dallas community with programs focused on keeping kids off the street.
Cokes was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2003.
He died May 29, 2020.
More materials detailing Curtis Cokes’ career can be found in the KXAS/NBC 5 News Collection on the Portal to Texas History.
While the long term closure of Texas schools as a preventative measure against the novel coronavirus is unprecedented, it is not the only time that Texas schools have been closed to prevent the spread of illness. In January 1984, for example, schools in Venus, Texas closed due to an influenza outbreak in the town.
The first Earth Day was celebrated fifty years ago today, on April 22, 1970. KXAS broadcast a special about the holiday at 11 AM. The new holiday in support of environmental protection was popular in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. As the original KXAS script (see image below) put it, schools at all levels, “from grade school through graduate school, banded together today to save man from himself.” At UNT (then known as North Texas State University), a fishpond was re-stocked and Senator Ralph Yarborough spoke to a crowd of 3,000. Congressman Jim Wright joined students at the University of Texas in Arlington to bury a car engine before planting a tree in the same spot. Carter High students picked up litter from the side of the road in their neighborhood. Dr. Thomas E. Kennerly, a Biology professor at UT-Arlington, warned that the proposed Trinity River Canal would cause an unsustainable population boom in the area. Other recommendations for stemming the damage to the Earth on the first Earth Day included lowering pollution by regulating factories and encouraging bicycle use to controlling the population through tax breaks and legalized abortion. On April 23, 1970, presumably inspired by Earth Day, the Texas Water Quality Board ordered every Texas city with a population over 100,000 to come up with a plan to police unauthorized pollution of waterways.
The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was first introduced to the U.S. Congress in 1923. It was designed to guarantee equal legal rights for women especially in matters of divorce, property, and employment among other matters.
During the 1960s, with the first wave of feminism, the ERA regained support and was reintroduced to and approved by the U.S. House of Representatives in 1971, and was approved by the U.S. Senate in 1972. This approval moved the amendment to the state legislatures for ratification. The original deadline for states to ratify this amendment was March 22, 1979, with 38 states needed to amend the U.S. Constitution.
There was a major push by the National Organization for Women (NOW) to support ratification of the ERA. This KXAS script describes then NOW President Betty Friedan campaigning in Fort Worth for women to use their political voice to support ERA ratification, in 1970.
News Script: Women’s equality campaign, September 14, 1970.
A number of states that originally ratified the amendment rescinded it in the late 1970s. Texas voted to ratify the ERA in 1972, and later voted down an attempt to rescind the amendment.
This KXAS clip shares some of the varying north Texas opinions on the issue of Congress extending the deadline for states to ratify the amendment in 1978.
Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative activist, argued against the ERA saying it would hurt housewives, allow women to be drafted into the military, and lose the tendency for mothers to obtain custody of children in divorce. Schlafly is featured in this KXAS clip speaking at Southern Methodist University in 1979.
The ratification of the ERA is an ongoing issue with Nevada, Illinois, and Virginia all ratifying the amendment since 2017. Voting in January 2020, Virginia is the most recent state to ratify.
Additional materials related to the Equal Rights Amendments can be found on the Portal to Texas History.
The Jewish holiday of Passover begins today at sundown. Tonight families will gather for a seder to commemorate the Israelites’ deliverance from slavery in Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus. But the gatherings and perhaps the meal will look and feel a little different this year than in years past. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent stay-at-home quarantine orders throughout the world, it’s unlikely that extended families will be able to gather in person for Passover or the Christian holiday of Easter, on April 12th. Many families are planning to use technological tools, like Skype or Zoom, to connect with loved ones on this holy day, something that would have probably sounded like science fiction in 1984!
More footage of Passover seders can be viewed in the Portal to Texas History.
How are you adapting Passover (or Easter) this year? Let us know in the comments.