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The KHOU-TV Collection - News Clips, 1961-2

Houston Metropolitan Research Center

Sound | 1961

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  •  Percy Foreman: Criminal defense attorney Percy Foreman discusses a possible court order against his client, Nueces County District Judge Cullen Briggs. Harris County District Attorney Frank Briscoe requested a writ of prohibition that would prevent Briggs from issuing stays of execution for Howard Stickney, a convicted murderer. Briggs had already stayed Stickney’s execution twice in 1961. While the Court of Criminal Appeals approved the order, barring Briggs from further interference, Stickney received 12 more stays before he was eventually executed via electric chair on May 23, 1962, at the State Penitentiary in Huntsville. Foreman was one of the best known trial lawyers in the United States. He is perhaps best known for defending James Earl Ray, the assassin of Martin Luther King Jr.  
  •  Chas Bacon American Legion Commander: Charles Bacon, a former commander of the American Legion, talks about the organization’s role in informing the community about the Vietnam War 
  •  H Apland [sic] French Ambassador: Hervé Alphand, French ambassador to the United States from 1956 to 1965, answers press questions about the Vietnam War at the historic Shamrock Hilton in Houston. While Alphand comments that President Charles de Gaulle of France hopes to find a solution to the conflict in the “next few months,” the war did not end until 1975.  
  •  Sen Yarbrogh [sic]: Senator Ralph Yarborough of Texas talks about upcoming legislation in the 1962 Congressional session, including his bill to establish Padre Island as a national seashore 
  •  Welch, Louie: Louie Welch delivers a concession speech following his loss to incumbent Lewis Cutrer in the 1961 Houston mayoral race. He unsuccessfully sought the Houston mayoral office three times before being elected to the position in 1963. 
  •  Lewis Murder 
  •  Brisco, Frank [sic]: Harris County District Attorney Frank Briscoe comments on the execution of Howard Stickney  
  •  Ragan: Judge Billy Ragan of the Harris County Criminal Court 
  •  Culter & Reeves 
  •  Man Stuck 
  •  Bob Kennedy - Dallas - 6/29/62; Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy arrives in Dallas to confer with federal officials about the the East Texas slant-hole drilling scandal and the Billie Sol Estes case 
 
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This film from KHOU-TV Channel 11 in Houston contains a series of short news segments that would have aired as highlights to news stories. Many are silent and would have been voiced over by the anchorperson during a live broadcast. The titles for each segment are the originals created by KHOU-TV. The clips on this reel all date from 1961 and 1962. This series includes news segments about the legal battle surrounding the execution of convicted murderer Howard Stickney and a visit by Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. Also included are interviews with Hervé Alphand, French ambassador to the United States, and Senator Ralph Yarborough.
The digital preservation of this collection was made possible by a grant to the Texas Archive of the Moving Image and the Houston Public Library from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services.
 
Many more films from the KHOU-TV Collection are available on the Houston Public Library Houston Area Digital Archives website.
United States Senator Ralph Webster Yarborough, known as "Smilin' Ralph," represented Texas from 1957 through 1971. Yarborough was born in Chandler, Texas, in 1903 as the seventh of nine children, and went on study at the Sam Houston State Teachers College as a young man before attending the University of Texas at Austin, where he graduated from the law school in 1927.
 
In 1931, Yarborough began a short but notable career as an assistant attorney general.  As an expert in Texas land law assigned to represent the interests of the Permanent School Fund, Yarborough won a number of cases against major oil companies such as Magnolia Petroleum and Mid-Kansas, through which he was able to guarantee that public schools and universities receive revenues from Texas oil. This litigation has since brought billions of dollars to public education.
 
In 1938, Yarborough decided to run for attorney general but lost; it would take another 12 years for him to run for any kind of office again. In the interim, he served in the Texas National Guard and the U.S. Army during World War II. In 1952, running against conservative incumbent R. Allan Shivers for the governorship, Yarborough lost his second race. He continued this losing streak against Shivers in the 1954 primary and then again against Senator Marion Price Daniel, Sr. in 1956. In 1957, however, he was able to win Daniel's vacated seat in the Senate next to Lyndon Baines Johnson.
 
In the Senate, Yarborough pursued a progressive agenda, first refusing to sign the Southern Manifesto against desegregation and then being one of only five Southern senators to sign the Civil Rights Act of 1957. For the environment, he pushed through a bill to elevate Padre Island to the status of National Seashore.  For education, he introduced the first Bilingual Education Act in 1967, which was signed into law a year later.  He worked to expand healthcare funding and to extend the G.I. Bill to Cold War veterans. In 1969, Yarborough chaired the Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare.
 
Aside from his legislation, Yarborough is also remembered for riding in the 1963 Dallas motorcade in which President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. The story goes that, being at odds with several of the other politicians on the President's tour, Yarborough originally refused to share a car with Johnson, who was friends with his rivals. This so outraged Kennedy that on the morning of the motorcade he took Yarborough aside and threatened to end their friendship if Yarborough did not cooperate. The Senator conceded and ended up just two cars behind the President when he was fatally shot that afternoon. When interviewed about that day, Yarborough described it as "the most tragic event of my life."
 
In 1970, Yarborough lost his seat in an upset election against Lloyd Bentsen. While he ran once more for office, he did not win again.
 
In 1996, Yarborough died at the age of 92. He is buried in Austin at the Texas State Cemetery.
Politician Louie Welch was born in Lockney, Texas on December 9, 1918. He received a degree in history from Abilene Christian College, now Abilene Christian University.
 
Welch began his political career in 1950, serving four terms on the Houston City Council. He unsuccessfully sought the Houston mayoral office three times before being elected to the position in 1963. Houston grew immensely during Welch’s five terms as mayor, from the population topping one million people to the opening of the Astrodome in 1965 and the Houston Intercontinental Airport in 1969. 
 
His tenure, however, was not without its controversy. A 1967 conflict between police and Texas Southern University students created a rift between the local administration and many of Houston’s African Americans. Welch’s reputation also came under fire during his last term over his relationship with well-known crime leaders, leading to suspicions about how his second mayoral bid was financed. 
 
In 1985, Welch ran for mayor again, campaigning in opposition to the extension of job protection rights to homosexuals employed by the city government. He lost to incumbent Kathy Whitmore. 
 
Welch died from lung cancer on January 27, 2008 in his Harris County residence. He was 89. 
In 1962, Texas found itself in the national spotlight after a pair of scandals rocked the state. The first dates back to April 1961, when an established East Texas oil well suddenly began producing mud instead of oil. The cause: Another driller, hoping to illegally tap into the oil pool, had pierced the well’s tubing instead. The Railroad Commission of Texas launched an investigation, exposing a widespread piracy enterprise. After the scandal broke in 1962, state and federal investigators found that more than a hundred independent operators in Texas employed directional wells. Such wells used illegal slant drilling to steal what amounted to hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil from neighboring pools. Several Railroad Commission employees were fired or resigned as a result of the probe. Implicated operators, meanwhile, faced lawsuits from wronged oil companies and federal charges under the Connally Hot Oil Act. 
 
Amid the developing hot oil investigation, another scandal unfolded. In February 1962, the Pecos Independent published the first of four articles exposing the fraudulent dealings of businessman Billie Sol Estes. Estes, a Texas native, had built a multi-million-dollar empire of farming and real estate enterprises. As the Independent—and the myriad of investigations that followed—revealed, however, most of these endeavors were actually complex scams. From clandestine lease-back arrangements to illegal transfers to phony mortgages, Estes was implicated in frauds across four states. Evidence of bribery dragged Washington into the scandal. Three agriculture officials were fired while an assistant secretary of labor resigned. Congressional hearings also disclosed ties between Estes and then Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. Estes was convicted on both state and federal fraud charges in 1963 and sentenced to 24 years in prison. He was paroled in 1971 after the United States Supreme Court overturned his state conviction. Estes was convicted of tax fraud in 1979 and served four more years. The mysterious deaths of seven individuals connected to the original case kept the scandal in the news for years. In 1984, Estes alleged that Johnson had ordered the killings, disguised as suicides or accidents, to cover up his involvement in the fraud conspiracy. Estes also claimed that Johnson set up the Kennedy assassination. None of these allegations were ever proved.