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A Man Called Cactus (1980)

Cactus and Peggy Davis Pryor

Sound | 1980

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TAMI Tags
  •  How Cactus got his nickname 
  •  Cactus talks about the characters he becomes when performing political satire 
  •  Cactus in character as Gilbert Peak 
  •  Cactus reveals his true identity to the audience 
  •  Cactus talks about living in the Hill Country and still maintaining a career in show business 
 
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Produced by Austin’s KTBC-TV in 1980, this tribute to broadcasting personality Cactus Pryor briefly tells the story of Pryor’s career through an interview with Pryor and footage of his performances. Pryor speaks with KTBC-TV from his Hill Country home where he talks about how he got his name, his political satire performances where he slips into various characters, and having a career in show business while living in Austin. Footage of Pryor revealing to an audience that he had been in disguise as a British newspaper editor is also included.
Richard S. "Cactus" Pryor was a comedic television and broadcast personality from Austin, Texas. Cactus, an Austin native, was born in 1923, straight into the entertainment business. His father owned the Cactus Theater on Congress Avenue (hence the nickname), and starting at just 3 years old, Cactus made stage appearances before the shows began. Cactus attended the University of Texas and served in the US Army Air Corp. When he returned to Austin from his service in 1944, Cactus joined the broadcasting team at Lady Bird Johnson's KLBJ radio station, where he worked until 2008. He joined the world of broadcast television at KTBC in 1951 where he was program manager and hosted a variety of television programs, including a football program with Darrell K Royal and many celebrity interviews. Cactus appeared in two films with his friend John Wayne, Hellfighters and The Green Berets. Throughout the 1960s and 70s, he became a sought-after speaker and event host, famous for his roasts of entertainers and politicians, most of whom he counted as close friends. Cactus was also known for his disguises. He would appear at functions in character, often pulling a fast one on the crowd as he charmed them first in disguise, then again as he revealed himself and used his earlier conversations to entertain the crowd. As an active member of the Headliners Club of Austin, Pryor starred in many humorous television news satires alongside Texas politicians, some of which can be seen in his film collection, as well as the Gordon Wilkison Collection and the Wallace and Euna Pryor Collection.  He was nationally-known, but kept Austin his home, helping put the city on the map in the 60s and 70s. Cactus Pryor announced to his KLBJ listeners in 2007 that he had Alzheimer's disease, and Austin's "original funnyman" died in 2011.