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1970 Cotton Bowl Classic Halftime Show

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1970

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  •  Notre Dame’s Band of the Fighting Irish takes the field 
  •  The Kilgore College Rangerettes perform numbers to the Hawaii Five-0 theme song and “Cabaret” 
  •  The Longhorn Band marches onto the field 
  •  “Fred” no doubt refers to Texas football player Freddie Steinmark, who had been diagnosed with bone cancer days after the team’s victory against Arkansas in the “Game of the Century” the previous month. Despite the amputation of his left leg only 20 days prior, Steinmark attended the Cotton Bowl Classic, watching the game from the sidelines.  
  •  Crowning of the Cotton Bowl Queen and joint performance of “This Is My Country” 
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  • About the video
  • Kilgore College Rangerette... Kilgore College Rangerettes
  • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
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This footage documents the halftime show from the 1970 Cotton Bowl Classic on New Year’s Day in Dallas. Notre Dame’s Band of the Fighting Irish performs first, followed by the Kilgore College Rangerettes. Finally, the University of Texas Longhorn Band take the field. Texas Longhorns won the Cotton Bowl game that year, defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 21-17. With the victory, the Longhorns also won their second consensus national championship in school history.
Dance drill teams originated in Texas as pep squads for high school football games that would perform much simpler routines than those often seen nowadays, focusing primarily on marching. The first pep squad was formed by Gussie Nell Davis in 1929 at Greenville High School in Greenville, Texas. In 1939, Davis was recruited by Kilgore College to form the first college drill team, the Rangerettes. The dean of Kilgore College, B. E. Masters, wanted to attract women to the predominantly male school. The Rangerettes set the standard for drill teams across the state and nation, including the signature white boots that make up part of their uniform. The Rangerettes have performed in countries such as Venezuela, Korea, Romania, France, Japan, and Singapore; in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and Dublin, Ireland’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade; and in the second inaugural parade of President George W. Bush. They have performed at every Cotton Bowl Classic in Dallas since 1951.
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.