A large crowd of people, both family and press were at the LBJ Ranch on Christmas Day, 1963. Members of the large Johnson family had come for dinner, and the press were there to take the family's Christmas picture. This footage, made up of silent clips, not in any particular order and with some repetition, captures President Johnson treating members of the press to an extensive tour of the ranch grounds and house, including the dining room, his study, and the master suite, and handing out souvenir ashtrays. According to newspaper reports, the President's tour caused Christmas dinner to be served very late, and an increasingly irritated First Lady made it clear that her gravy "was not getting better with age."
Purchased from a family member in 1951 while Lyndon B. Johnson served in the U.S. Senate, “the ranch,” located in Gillespie County in the Texas Hill Country was the Johnsons’ family home. The LBJ Ranch made its debut to the American public during Johnson’s vice presidency (1961 - 1963) when it was used to host state visits of foreign dignitaries, high-ranking Washington politicians, and campaign functions. As President (1963 – 1969), Johnson conducted official business at the ranch, including state visits and lawn chair staff meetings, earning it the name, the Texas White House. On December 2, 1969, the ranch, along with Johnson City and Johnson's birthplace, was authorized as Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Site, and became a United States National Historic Park on December 28, 1980. Both President and Lady Bird Johnson are buried in the family cemetery within the National Historic Park.
Gordon Wilkison began work as a cameraman at the local Austin television station KTBC (now FOX 7) during 1952, its first year of operation. At the time the station was owned by the Texas Broadcasting Company, which was owned by Senator Lyndon B. and Lady Bird Johnson. This relationship would continue to shape Wilkison's career well into the next decades - during the Johnson administration, Wilkison covered the president's visits to Texas, preparing material for national and international news correspondents.
A particularly notable moment in his career occurred on August 1, 1966, when Wilkison and KTBC reporter Neal Spelce risked their lives to capture footage of the Tower shooting at the University of Texas.
Wilkison was also the General Manager of Photo Processors at the LBJ Broadcasting Corporation, which he later took over and renamed Cenetex Film Labs. In addition to his camera work and film processing, his work at the station also included direction of a number of television film productions.
Outside of KTBC, Wilkison shot, edited, and processed Longhorn football game footage for the University of Texas, a partnership that lasted nearly 30 years.
Recognizing the historical value of film and news footage, Wilkison kept the material, later contributing hundreds of reels to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image's collection.