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Ben Ramsey Political Telecast for Railroad Commissioner (1962)

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1962

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  •  The responsibilities of the Texas Railroad Commission 
  •  Ben Ramsey outlines his qualifications and platform 
 
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  • About the video
  • Ben Ramsey Ben Ramsey
  • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
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In this political advertisement, Ben Ramsey asks voters for their support in the 1962 Democratic primary election for Railroad Commissioner. As he speaks about his qualifications for the office, Ramsey outlines the duties of the Texas Railroad Commission, emphasizing the role that it plays in overseeing the state's oil and gas industry.
Born in 1903 in San Augustine, Texas, Ben Ramsey grew up to become a lawyer and politician. He held office in both houses of the Texas Legislature; in 1949 Governor Beauford Jester appointed him Secretary of State, and in 1950 he was elected Lieutenant Governor. In 1961 Governor Price Daniel appointed him to the Railroad Commission, a position to which he was then elected in 1962, 1964, and 1970.  His political positions included opposition to raising taxes and labor unions and support of higher teachers salaries, rural electrification, and insurance regulation laws.
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.