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KTBC New Years Eve Broadcast (1965)

Gordon Wilkison

Sound | 1965

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  •  Albert Durst performs "Sometimes I'm Happy" by Billie Holiday. Albert Durst was a regular performer at Club Caravan in Austin. 
  •  Cactus Pryor hosts the show for broadcast on KTBC. In addition to his duties as project manager and host of his own program at KTBC, Cactus worked as a news anchor on KLBJ and KTRH, and was the vice president of broadcasting at LBJS. Pryor was voted Austin's Most Worthy Citizen in 1983 and released a hit single in 1950, "Cry of the Dying Duck in a Thunder-Storm." 
  •  "NBC Peacock" - KTBC carried NBC programming until KHFI (now KXAN), the official NBC affiliate, came on the air in 1966 
  •  Comedienne Maxine Wildes 
  •  Paul Pryor and his band perform "She's About a Mover" by Ringo Starr. The eldest son of Cactus Pryor, Paul would later act as a reporter and news director for KBOX-AM, WRR-FM and KVET, and hosted popular news and talk shows on KVET, KLBJ-AM and ESPN. 
  •  Nathaniel "Nat" Greene Williams plays a tune on piano. Nat Williams was the music director at KTBC television, Huston-Tillotson College, the Wesley Methodist Church, and the Gary Job Corps Center. He also made regular appearances on the Uncle Jay and Cactus Pryor shows. 
  •  Emily Tracy sings "When I Fall in Love" by Nat King Cole. Emily was a drama student at the University of Texas when this was filmed. She has worked as an opera singer, landscape artist, and screenwriter, having penned an episode of The Cosby Show in 1985 and the film The Wedding Dress in 2001, among others.  
  •  Happy New Year 1966! 
  •  The show was broadcast from Camp Gary in San Marcos, Texas. Camp Gary began as an airfield in 1942 and became an air force base in 1951. In 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson announced that the base would be repurposed into a Job Corps facility. 
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  • About the video
  • Cactus Pryor Cactus Pryor
  • Gordon Wilkison Gordon Wilkison
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This footage captures part of KTBC’s New Year’s Eve broadcast from 1965. Television personality Richard Pryor hosts the variety show, introducing an assortment of performers, including singer Albert Durst, comedienne Maxine Wildes, pianist Nat Williams, singer Emily Tracy, and the then-teenaged radio personality Paul Pryor. Special thanks to Vipasha Bansal and Clay Beverly for their enormous help cataloging this film.
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 1970s, 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.
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 in 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 at Austin. 
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 at Austin, 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.