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KTBC-Fox 7 at 50 (2002)

Cactus and Peggy Davis Pryor

Sound | 2002

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TAMI Tags
  •  Lady Bird Johnson founds the station 
  •  Dick Ellis describes the early days of the station 
  •  April Molina discusses its affiliation with Fox 
  •  Historic broadcasts from the station, including the 1966 UT Tower shooting 
  •  Carrie Schumacher on children’s programming, such as The Uncle Jay Show 
  •  Mike Rosen on political coverage and the 1963 Kennedy assassination 
  •  Weather coverage by KTBC 
  •  Sports coverage, including The Darrell Royal Show 
  •  Dennis de la Peña and Audie Garrido discuss UT baseball 
  •  About the UT golf program with Tom Kite and Tom Crenshaw 
  •  Katherine Kisiel interviews Cactus Pryor 
  •  Tour of KTBC with Pryor 
  •  Bill Moyers on his career 
 
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  • Cactus Pryor Cactus Pryor
  • Driskill Hotel Driskill Hotel
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In this local news production, Austin station KTBC-Fox 7 celebrates its 50th anniversary by looking back on the past decades of coverage. The segment begins by describing Lady Bird Johnson’s contributions to Texas broadcasting and her founding of the station. It also discusses the channel’s affiliations with the Fox network and the transformations of the station over the years. Then, the report looks back on historic breaking-news moments, such as the sniper at the University of Texas Tower. Next, the program surveys some of the station’s programming highlights, from its children’s programming to its coverage of the Kennedy assassination in 1963. The weather segment includes coverage of floods and tornadoes throughout central Texas. The sports report focuses on football, baseball, and golf at the University of Texas at Austin. To conclude this program, Cactus Pryor takes the viewer on a tour of the studio in a “now and then” manner, editing together his tour of the modern studio with footage of a similar tour from its early days.
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), with Cactus making stage appearances starting at three years old. 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 host of a variety of television programs, including a football program with coach Darrell K. Royal. Cactus appeared in two films with his friend John Wayne, Hellfighters(1968) and The Green Berets (1968). 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 after he revealed himself. 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.
The Driskill Hotel was opened by cattle baron Jesse Lincoln Driskill in 1886 as a showpiece for the emerging capital city of Austin. A luxurious building with arched entryways and limestone features, the grand hotel was reminiscent of the palaces in New York, Chicago, and St. Louis. It quickly became the place to throw lavish Governor’s balls and host international dignitaries. Jesse Driskill was forced to sell the hotel in 1888 due to a severe drought that cost him his fortune. After years of being traded and sold, the Driskill’s fifth owner, Major George W. Littlefield, vowed the hotel would never close again and initiated a $60,000 renovation in 1895. 
 
President Lyndon Baines Johnson had his first date with his future wife, Lady Bird, in the downstairs dining room of the Driskill in 1934. This marked the beginning of the Johnsons’ lifelong love for the hotel. In the 1950s, the Johnsons rented suites at the Driskill to serve as the offices of their news station, KTBC. It was also the site of Lyndon’s campaign headquarters, where they awaited election results for both the vice presidential and presidential elections. The couple also frequented their own presidential suite during his presidency.
 
After a planned renovation fell through, the Driskill Hotel faced demolition in 1969. The Heritage Society of Austin strove to get the building recognized as a historic landmark and succeeded. A series of fundraising campaigns amounting to over $700,000 allowed for the hotel to reopen in 1972, and it has been in operation since that time. Known as one of the most haunted hotels in the country, ghostly spirits have been reported roaming the old hallways, including Jesse Driskill himself!
Darrell K Royal was the University of Texas head football coach from 1957 to 1976, revered for leading the Texas Longhorns in 20 winning seasons and three national championship titles.
 
Royal was born on July 6, 1924 in Hollis, Oklahoma. His middle name, K, has been said to represent his mother, Katy, who died of cancer when Royal was a baby. He experienced more tragedy with the deaths of two of his sisters at young ages. During the hard economic times of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl, Royal supplemented his father’s income by taking on a paper route and picking cotton. His family was so poor that he used a can of baking powder as a football until he and his brothers were able to pool their money to buy a real one.
 
With the outbreak of World War II, Royal joined the US Army Air Corps. While playing football for the 3rd Air Force team, he was scouted by the University of Oklahoma. There he majored in business and became a star quarterback and defensive back. When he graduated, Royal knew he wanted to coach football. He held assistant coaching positions at North Carolina State University, University of Tulsa, and Mississippi State University. He briefly coached the Edmonton Eskimos in Canada before returning to Mississippi as head coach in 1954, where he remained for two years.
 
In 1956, Royal became head coach at the University of Texas, where he became the most successful coach in the history of the program. In his first year, he quickly turned the losing team into a winning one, ending the season with an appearance at the Sugar Bowl. Royal remained for a record 20 years without a single losing season. During his tenure, Texas won national championship titles in 1963, 1969, and 1970. They also won 11 Southwest Conference titles and went to 16 bowl games. Although he received some criticism for his coaching tactics, Royal was ultimately considered a legend. He retired in 1976, but stayed at Texas as an athletic director for four more years. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1983, and the football stadium at the University of Texas was renamed in his honor in 1996. 
 
Royal married Edith Thomason in 1944, and they had three children: Mack, David Wade, and Marian. Two of his children, David and Marian, preceded him in death. Darrel Royal died on November 7, 2012 from complications due to Alzheimer’s. His wife founded the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease in his honor. 
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