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Austin Dinner Honoring Heloise (1963)

Cactus and Peggy Davis Pryor

Sound | 1963

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TAMI Tags
  •  Governor John Connally 
  •  Attorney General Waggoner Carr 
  •  Heloise sitting to the right of Governor Connally 
 
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  • About the video
  • Cactus Pryor Cactus Pryor
  • John Connally John Connally
  • Waggoner Carr Waggoner Carr
  • Will Wilson Will Wilson
  • Darrell K Royal Darrell K Royal
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This footage captures scenes of Cactus Pryor serving as toastmaster at a dinner given in honor of “Happy Hints for Housewives” columnist, Heloise Bowles Cruse. The dinner for Heloise was thrown in Austin in early 1963 upon the release her book, “Heloise’s Housekeeping Hints.” In attendance at the dinner, and the butt of Cactus Pryor’s jokes, were Governor John Connally, Will Wilson, Waggoner Carr, and Coach Darrell K. Royal.
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.
The thirty-eighth Texas State Governor, John Bowden Connally Jr., was born on a farm near Floresville, Texas, on February 27, 1917. Connally graduated from the University of Texas in 1941 with a law degree and was subsequently admitted to the State Bar of Texas. He began his political career as a legislative assistant to Representative Lyndon B. Johnson in 1939. The two retained a close but often torrid friendship until LBJ’s death. After returning from U.S. Naval combat in the Pacific Theater, Connally joined an influential Austin law firm, served as LBJ’s campaign manager and aide, and became oil tycoon Sid W. Richardson’s legal counsel. Connally’s reputation as a political mastermind was solidified after managing five of LBJ’s major political campaigns, including the 1964 presidential election. In 1961, Connally served as Secretary of the Navy under President John F. Kennedy.
 
Wealthy financiers like Sid Richardson and a strong grass-roots network of supporters helped Connally win his first gubernatorial election in 1962. The three-term governor fought to expand higher education by increasing teachers’ salaries, creating new doctoral programs, and establishing the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Texas Historical Commission. In 1969, President Richard Nixon appointed Connally to the foreign-intelligence advisory board. He was named the sixty-first Secretary of Treasury in 1971. Connally became one of the President’s principal advisors and headed the Democrats for Nixon organization, finally switching to the Republican Party in 1973. Connally is also remembered nationally for being in the car with President Kennedy during his assasination in Dallas in 1963, when Connally received wounds in his chest, wrist, and thigh. 
 
The former Texas governor announced in January 1979 that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination. His campaign was abandoned after media attacks over a controversial public speech and bank partnership. Financial troubles befell Connally by the mid 1980s after a real estate development partnership with former Texas Representative Ben Barnes collapsed. John Connally died on June 15, 1993 and is interred at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. 
 
Born in 1918 in Hunt County just East of Dallas, Waggoner Carr graduated from Lubbock High School and Texas Tech University. After service as a pilot for the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, Carr completed a law degree at the University of Texas at Austin. Elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1950, Carr went on to serve two terms as the Speaker of the House in 1957 and 1959. After losing a 1960 bid for state Attorney General to incumbent Will Wilson, Carr later ran successfully for the 1962 and 1964 terms. In 1966, he unsuccessfully challenged Republican John Tower for his seat in the U.S. Senate at the price of his seat as Attorney General. In 1968, he attempted a run for Texas governor, then retired from politics. He spent his later years serving on the Texas Tech University board of regents, as state commander of the American Legion, and on citizens’ commissions in Austin and on the state level. At the time of his death in 2004, Carr was writing books about Jesse James and the past attorney generals of Texas. 
Politician and State Attorney General Will Reid Wilson was born in Dallas on July 29, 1912. After graduating from Southern Methodist University’s law school, he joined the Dallas law firm Turner, Rogers, and Wynn. Wilson served as aide to Dallas Mayor Woodall Rogers before becoming the Assistant Texas Attorney General. From 1947-1951, he acted as Dallas County’s District Attorney, and in 1950, Wilson was elected to the Texas Supreme Court. He left the court in 1956 to succeed John Ben Shepperd as Texas Attorney General, during which time he attempted to scale back prostitution in Texas cities. He received the Wymann Memorial Award for his outstanding service in 1960. After unsuccessful senate and gubernatorial campaigns, Wilson once again served as Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division from 1969 to 1971. Will Wilson passed away in 2005 at the age of 93. 
 
Darrell K Royal was a collegiate football coach revered for leading the Texas Longhorns in twenty winning seasons from 1957 to 1976.
 
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 had to supplement 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 U.S. 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, Tulsa, and Mississippi State. 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 twenty years without a single losing season. During his tenure, Texas won national championship titles in 1963, 1969, and 1970. They also won eleven Southwest Conference titles and went to sixteen 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 of Alzheimer’s. His wife founded the Darrell K Royal Research Fund for Alzheimer’s Disease in his honor.