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58th Texas Legislature (1963)

Gordon Wilkison

Silent | 1963

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  •  Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Byron Tunnell 
  •  Lieutenant Governor Preston Smith 
  •  On the floor of the Texas Senate 
  •  Texas Representative John Alaniz, middle, the first Mexican American elected to the Texas House of Representatives from Bexar County 
  •  The 58th Legislature left the chair empty as a memorial to the late Texas Representative James Lattimore 
  •  Any given legislature changed the clock for a couple of reasons: to set a precise end time or to allow extra time for voting on bills. The latter only occurs on the final day of the legislature and generally consists of moving the clock back 15 minutes. The former is the likelier reason in the case of this footage, as the 58th Legislature concluded three days early and the clock here appears to be moved back for more than 15 minutes. 
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Shot by cameraman Gordon Wilkison for Austin’s KTBC, this news footage captures a joint session of the 58th Texas Legislature at the State Capitol Building in Austin in 1963. Lieutenant Governor Preston Smith and Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Byron Tunnell engage in a spirited debate, while the assembled legislators vote on a bill.
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 is 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.