Tulsa TV Memories GroupBlog 312

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June 16 2010 at 10:42:07
Name: Charlie
Topic: Tulsa Race Riot/School History
Email: charlie.tooley@wellsfargo.com
Comments: I grew up in Tulsa in the 1950s and 60s near the downtown area and never was there any mention in public of the riot that took place in 1921 while I was growing up. I distinctly recall the Tulsa History class we took which was mainly about Washington Irving's visit and the Lochapocka Tribe and the Council Oak Tree that were foundations of the original beginnings of Tulsa along with the railroad track photos that ran along Archer and first streets.

One day my grandmother and father were talking in my presence about the events of 1921. At the time they lived on an oil lease in Osage County, outside of Sperry, called Black Dog Township. My grandmother told me that they harbored black refugees that ran as far as their property and fed them while the riots were going on in Greenwood. She also said that many of them told my grandparents that they witnessed several mass graves of people being buried that were killed.

That is the only way I knew about this fact while growing up in Tulsa; until the recent media events that have opened up the "dark secrets" that most during that era wanted to forget.

June 15 2010 at 08:02:25
Name: Mike Miller todayMike Miller
Topic: Jimmy Dean
Comments: Jimmy Dean also had a limited acting career that included a supporting role in the James Bond film, "Diamonds are Forever."

Since he'd already watched sausage being made, he should have run for Congress.

June 14 2010 at 17:09:59
Name: John HillisJohn Hillis
Topic: Jimmy Dean
: West Texas is a little distant from Tulsa, but Jimmy Dean's passing bears noting.

Stationed in the Washington area in the Air Force when television was being born, Dean played officers' clubs, local hillbilly joints, and local TV until his natural charm got him to the networks in the 50s.

Here's an early outlet:

More obscure history: Connie B. Gay was best described as a cornpone impressario from Lizard Lick, N.C. who booked country acts in the mid-Atlantic area in the era when "country" was looked down upon in a postwar pop world. He was one of those who laughed all the way to the bank.

In the mid-1980s I tried to put together a syndicated live morning television program with Dean as host. Nothing ever came of it, but the guy was a joy to watch and would do pretty much anything for a laugh.

June 12 2010 at 08:17:35
Name: Mitch Gray
Topic: Radio Stuff
Email: North Of You
Comments: Tulsa has always had, at least in my opinion, a unique radio audience. Intelligent, informed, and unwilling to be steered to uninteresting entertainment.

Years ago, when KVOO was owned by First Stuart Corp, we had some latitude on the air and were able to ad lib a bit as long as we stuck to the basic clock format: news, music, WX, music, traffic, put an occasional listener on the air, etc.

When KVOO was purchased by Great Empire Broadcasting,we were required to refer to the station as "The Radio Ranch" and us on air folks were "Ranch Hands". Listeners called in and actually laughed at us and our new format. Soon we were just to read the card with the positioning statement and shut up.(you know, "WE'RE GREAT", "NO STATIONS BETTER" and so on ad nauseum)

I have always felt that any outsider attempting to consult station owners and programmers in this market were woefully off track any merely insulted the audience. This seems to be the path so many broadcasters have followed and usually to the station's demise.

Good luck to all the KBEZ talent and remember,
All Music...All The Time.

More discussion of KBEZ on the Oklahoma forum at Radio-info.com.

June 12 2010 at 05:35:32
Name: Mark Erdwin
Topic: KBEZ
: "These were not layoffs." Gotta love that corporate speak. I guess that means they were "released" so that they may pursue one of the multitude of radio jobs available locally.

Meet Joe, a friendly, relaxed, regular kind of manager. He's got a bunch of pink slips. Whatever --- and he's not afraid to hand 'em out.

June 11 2010 at 21:51:23
Name: Webmaster
Topic: Tulsa Radio: Devolution
: From the Tulsa World:

"KBEZ changes format, on-air staff out of jobs"

A news release from Renda Broadcasting Corporation, which owns (KBEZ), stated:

"Meet Bob, a friendly, relaxed, regular kind of guy. He's got a bunch of CDs, tapes and albums from the '80s, '90s. Whatever --- and he's not afraid to play 'em."

"The air staff at KBEZ have all been released. These were not layoffs. The new format is built around music and imagery around the Bob character," the station reported.

June 10 2010 at 15:09:24
Name: Tulsa Gal
Topic: Copper Kettle
Email: tulsahistory@aol.com
Comments: Can anyone here remember where the Copper Kettle restaurant was? 11th and Main? Thanks!


June 10 2010 at 11:10:19
Name: David Batterson
Topic: Rue
Email: dwbatterson(at)geemale(dot)com
Comments: Disney owed Rue 500 smackers; I guess they couldn't locate her? From the State of CA Unclaimed Property site:


Property Details screen
Date: 6/10/2010 Source: INT Property ID Number: 018392539
Reported Owner Address: 8899 BEVERLY BOULEVARD
LOS ANGELES CA 90048-2412

Type of Property: Salaries/wages
Cash Reported: $507.54

June 10 2010 at 08:30:01
Name: Tulsa Gal
Topic: Re: King's
Email: tulsahistory@aol.com
Comments: Ahhhh, those Cheese Frenchies were awesome!


June 10 2010 at 05:40:45
Name: Rose Bowl Bunker Commander
Topic: King's
: That would be King's Food Host. I recall the one at 31st and Sheridan, NW corner. Awesome fudge brownies with a scoop of vanilla, slathered with hot fudge sauce. Part of a small chain, which went bankrupt in the early Seventies. Alas.

Discussion of Tulsa's King's in GB 283.

June 09 2010 at 16:38:31
Name: RichT
Topic: King's
Email: chardtomp@aol.com
Comments: I was born in Tulsa in 1963 and lived there until 1971. I remember eating at a restaurant called King's, I think.

They had an unusual setup where you'd sit at a table with the menu on the wall and a phone. You'd pick up the phone and tell them what items you wanted and they'd bring the food out to the table when it was ready.

I've looked on the Internet, but I can't find any reference to it. Does anyone else remember this place?

June 09 2010 at 13:58:57
Name: Frank Morrow at KTUL radio in the 1950sFrank Morrow
Topic: Segregated buses
Email: frankdotmorrow@coxdotnet
Comments: It's interesting how different experiences can be for people living contemporaneously in the past. Jim Ruddle's memories of black-white relations in Tulsa are somewhat different from mine. I never heard of such mixing of the races occurring by churches that he relates. The only church I went to was Boston Avenue Methodist, and I never saw a black face there for sure.

I was attending TU in the summer of 1955 when the racial barrier was broken by less than a handful of black folks. This experiment having gone smoothly, the next year there were small numbers in some classes. Actually, the downtown TU law school had permitted blacks to attend classes for a few years before.

When I was playing basketball for Central in 1949-51, we asked our coach, Clarence Ehlers, if he could arrange a scrimmage with Booker T. Washington. Nothing ever came of it. Many years later, Ehlers told me that the principal of the school was a racist who would not permit such a thing.

Concerning riding the segregated buses, there was a big sign in front that said, "Colored passengers use rear seat." Sometimes, when the bus was full and all the seats were taken, white people would sit in the back seats. Even when a black person would enter the bus and go to the back, they'd have to stand until the whites, who were in the rear seats, got off. You could tell that the black people were angry about it.

One day when I was in junior high school or early high school, I had to take a Greenwood bus. I don't remember the reason why. When the bus stopped for me, the black driver opened the door and I immediately headed for the rear of the bus. I figured that, if the black folks were required to sit in the rear on the "white" routes, I was supposed to sit in the back on a trip on the Greenwood and Lansing bus.

June 08 2010 at 20:17:20
Name: Gary ChewGary Chew
Topic: When History Becomes Safe to Know
Email: Northeast of Eden
Comments: In response to Frank's and Dave's recent postings here, I remind surfers-by to this site that former KOTV newsman, Larry Thomlinson, has a book of short stories which ends with a fact-based personal yarn titled "Allie." It connects with the racial strife in Tulsa 89 years ago this month: "Life, Death and Other Dysfunctions."

Ten years or so, after I moved to Tulsa, I finally heard about that bad day in '21. Not surprisingly, it came to me in conversation with a reporter for the Oklahoma Eagle.

June 08 2010 at 18:50:59
Name: Dave
Topic: Keeping it quiet
Comments: The Tulsa school system mandated a unit in Tulsa history for sixth graders back in the 1960s. It had no mention of the 1921 riot. The unit contained numerous obscure items from the city's history that remain largely forgotten today, but somehow the curriculum planners neglected to include anything about the riot in the booklets we were given for the history unit. Not likely an accidental oversight. If a teacher mentioned anything, that was definitely not part of the official prescribed lesson plan.

There remain stories of how no remaining editions exist of the infamous Tulsa Tribune article on the front page on May 31, 1921 with the headline "To Lynch Negro Tonight." They were mysteriously absent from the back issues. You can read about that in the books that have been written about the riot.

When Ed Wheeler was researching the riot for a magazine piece he planned to write back in about 1971, he got some anonymous, unfriendly messages trying to warn him off the story for his own good lest he stir up a hornet's nest. That's also in the books.

The fact is that there was a well-executed conspiracy of silence that lasted for decades before it finally broke apart. White people who knew about it weren't talking because it would bring up a major PR blemish on a blossoming city. Black people who knew about it weren't talking because they didn't want to risk the consequences of angering the white population again. No wonder the school system kept it out of the lesson plan.

June 08 2010 at 16:23:23
Name: Frank Morrow at KTUL radio in the 1950sFrank Morrow
Topic: Race riot
Email: frankdotmorrow@coxdotnet
Comments: That there was a race riot in Tulsa was something that was never talked about when I grew up in the city from 1937-1957. On rare occasions there would be a rather vague reference to one that had happened "sometime in the past," but nothing specific. The newspapers never mentioned it. Neither did the teachers. Since I was living in Georgia during the war, I missed the classes in Oklahoma history. I assume that the riot was not mentioned in them.

Actually, the "riot" was not really such per se, but an invasion by whites into the black part of town where they carried out looting, murdering and burning.

June 08 2010 at 06:48:01
Name: Mike Miller todayMike Miller
Topic: Ugly little town
Comments: I certainly didn't mean to imply Tulsa was a "ugly little town with secrets." It was probably exactly like most other small towns. My point was that TV shows in the 60s were probably based on reality not fiction.

The major secret (the riot) was never mentioned in the World or Tribune because the newspapers didn't want to hurt the city's image. Racial issues were not covered by me until the mid-to-late 60s. I remember covering my first stories while at KOTV when Don Ross started appearing at City Commission meetings. I give credit to Clayton Vaughn for not being afraid to tackle racial issues.

June 08 2010 at 06:27:18
Name: Jim Ruddle
Topic: Tulsa in the late 30s, early 40s
Comments: I don't think of Tulsa as "an ugly little town with secrets," any more than I would describe Chicago as "an ugly big city with secrets." There were matters that were not talked about, but many matters were.

In the late thirties and early forties, I had no knowledge of the riot of 1921, just as kids today--and many adults--have no inkling of events of twenty years ago.

Were people secretive because they didn't have daily discussions of the riots twenty years down the road? I don't think so. In between they had had the depression with a lot of folks badly hurt, World War Two might have been a distraction, as well.

I know that in the mid-forties, some of us used to sit at the back of buses because the way the system worked, if no seats were available at the rear, blacks were allowed to seat themselves in more forward locations. We didn't consider ourselves champions of a cause, or incipient freedom riders, we just thought the set-up was nutty and callous. Churches also had a lot of inter-racial activities--choirs exchanged, mixed choruses, orchestras, etc.

None of this is intended to gloss over what was the fact of segregation. Still, as I noted once long ago in this site (GB 22 in 1999), I and others of my age and a little older used to be regulars at Clarence Love's or the Big Ten Ball Room and the only hassle I ever had was from the then Sheriff, George Blaine, who came into Love's one weeknight when I was the only white in the place, and who had me put against a wall and patted down, including coat lapels and trouser cuffs, all because in his view I was some worthless kid. I had just quit my job at KAKC and was waiting to report for enlistment. I was 18 at the time.

June 07 2010 at 19:54:18
Name: Mike MillerMike Miller
Topic: Amphicar
Comments: I remember actually driving an Amphicar for a TV news report. I don't remember exactly where it was. A reservoir in or near Tulsa that had cement sides as I recall. (Maybe Lake Yahola?...webmaster)

Also seem to remember you had to insert a plug in the vehicle before entering water. Or it would sink.

I also drove a total electric car way back in the 60s in another report. It drove like a dream. And, like a dream, the car vanished rather quickly.

June 07 2010 at 18:18:59
Name: Mike Miller todayMike Miller
Topic: Small Town
Comments: Mike, as an older fan of TTM, I'd venture to say it was pretty much reality. I grew up in the 40s and 50s, a time when racism was everywhere. So much so, you didn't think too much about it. We didn't go to Greenwood except maybe for some good BBQ. Nobody was asking, "Why do THEY ride in the back of the bus, or have separate rest rooms." Even churches which railed against sin, didn't single out bigotry. At least, not that I recall. Simply put, most people just didn't know any better.

Dr. King came along in the mid 50s, with the sit ins and marches. Little Rock H.S. followed a few years later. We saw it on the news and that, no doubt, is when the serious questions were raised. Television shows of the 60s probably reflected the way small towns were. Even medium sized towns like Tulsa. Of course Tulsa's biggest secret was the race riot.

June 07 2010 at 12:40:57
Name: Webmaster
Topic: Question about the "small town" TV plot
Comments: I've been watching a lot of these mid-1960s "Run For Your Life" and "Suspense Theatre" episodes on RTV, one of KTUL's digital subchannels.

I've noticed a often-recurring plot element: the ugly little town with secrets or just xenophobia.

I now remember that a lot of other shows of that era used it, too, like "Route 66", "The Fugitive", etc.

Not having been around much at that time, I would like to ask older readers if that plot reflected the reality of the time, in their opinion, and/or if was just a convenient trope for teleplays.

June 07 2010 at 12:31:45
Name: Gary ChewGary Chew
Topic: Wee hours satellite radio and the Twin
Comments: On awakening at about 4:30 AM (PDT) for some middle-of-the-night maintenance in another room, I realized my satellite radio was still on. It was a talk/call-in segment on one the the entertainment channels.
The host mentioned something about the new movie ..."Splice" and was also discussing something about drive-in theaters. Just then he had a caller on the air. Her name was Shannon and she was calling from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She mentioned the Admiral Twin Drive-In and said the theaters were currently playing "Iron Man Two"...and I think..."Splice." I was pretty sleepy. Anyway, she also mentioned the recent replay of "The Outsiders," and said something about a fence at the Admiral Twin being damaged, or something, at the time the "The Outsiders" was playing.

Tell me I was only dreaming, Mr. Ransom.

"Iron Man 2" is currently playing the Twin with "Shrek" (maybe sounded like "Splice" at that hour). I believe the young lady was correct about fence damage at the time of filming.

June 07 2010 at 10:46:08
Name: David Bagsby
Topic: Double whammy
Comments: Looks like that Aqua Car requires a boat license as well.

Don't be fishing out of it, either.

June 07 2010 at 07:30:38
Name: Webmaster
Topic: Aqua Car / Amphicar
Comments: I recently posted photos I found on eBay of DX's toy Aqua Car on Flickr. It took me years to find one. And now Lynnola has reminded me of the existence of the Amphicar (photo taken in Tulsa), obviously the model for the Aqua Car. Wow!

More about the Amphicar on Wikipedia.


DX Aquacar

June 06 2010 at 12:45:24
Name: Jan LeMoine
Topic: Rue McClanahan tribute on Logo
Comments: In tribute to Rue McClanahan, Logo channel is presenting a "Sordid Lives" marathon tonight starting at 7 p.m. CST - showing the whole season of the quirky,irreverent comedy "Sordid Lives", in which Rue starred as matriarch Peggy Ingram. "Golden Girl" Rue shines again in this fun series - but definitely not for the straightlaced!

June 05 2010 at 12:04:42
Name: Si Hawk
Topic: Ben Hevel
Email: sihawk@hawkshometown.com
Comments: Ben Hevel was GM of KJRH for most of the near 10 years I was there as commercial Chief Announcer. I found him to be warm and friendly and quite supportive of his staff.

While Ben was over the station, KJRH's production department did the lion's share of TV commercial production for the Tulsa market and a good deal of the regional work.

Ben was a big fan of the Wrestling genre and close friends with much of the Championship Wrestling management. He used that connection to keep KJRH in the middle of producing the wrestling interviews that provided much of the in-your-face humor of those shows. Ben and some of the management attempted to convince me to become a 'part-time' wrestler for the show. They were impressed with my size (6'4 and 250 lbs) and my ability to growl intimidatingly. They told me if I wanted to be anonymous I could wear a mask. Not seeing the humor, I passed on that offer.

My biggest mistake with Ben was when John Erling was leaving as host of "Studio-2 Live" (the local Tulsa TV talk show), Ben was determined that I should replace Erling. I didn't think I was a good match for the show and suggested someone from news might be a very good match.

The KJRH Troubleshooter, Jim Forbes, ended up replacing Erling on the show. Jim did a great job, but advertising dollars were weak and the show was ultimately canceled. Jim is well known nationally as the narrator of "Behind the Music" on VH1. See what Tulsa lost when Studio-2 Live was canceled!

Ben Hevel was a very decent guy. My prayers are with his loved ones.

June 04 2010 at 22:49:36
Name: Webmaster
Topic: McElroy's sign
: McElroy's was once a sponsor of Jack Morris' KTUL newscast.

citizenkerr has a lot of good Tulsa photos on Flickr.

McElroy's Tire

June 04 2010 at 10:50:10
Name: Frank Morrow
Topic: Rue
Email: frankdotmorrow@coxdotnet
Comments: The death of Rue is quite personal to me. I went to TU with her, we shared some classes, and I was in a play with her (Her role was one of the "madwomen" in the "Madwoman of Chaillot." No one called her Rue or Eddi-Rue. We knew her only as "Frosty." Because TU was such a small school, we saw each other frequently. Additionally, we had several dates and "smooching" sessions. She was always friendly, warm, funny and was tremendously talented. I was so pleased that she had such success and that she continued to develop into a tremendous actress.

Goodbye, Frosty.

Frank told more of this story in GB 94 and with photos.

June 03 2010 at 19:20:50
Name: Gary ChewGary Chew
Topic: More of Rue
Email: Northeast of Eden
Comments: One of my fave 70s movies, "They Might Be Giants," has Rue in it. She plays George C. Scott's nutty sister. I didn't even know, at the time, she was from OKLA or had gone to TU. She was the great comic relief in that film, which I highly recommend to all. And, she was my fave character in the TV series that still runs, I think, on some cable outlets, "Golden Girls". That program almost has the staying power of the Andy Griffith and Redd Foxx shows... which are likely to re-run forever.

June 03 2010 at 18:04:46
Name: Dave
Topic: more Rue
Comments: An NY Times blog has this excerpt from Rue McClanahan's 2007 memoir, “My First Five Husbands … and the Ones Who Got Away."


“Mama’s Family” wrote my character out of the show. The fates that ruled Mama’s Universe had Aunt Fran choke to death on a chicken bone.

I did not grieve on her passing. … In February of 1985, I was languishing in “Love Boat” limbo. By this time, I’d done five stints in Captain Stubing’s celebrity purgatory, as well as guest shots on such timeless classics as “Gimme a Break!” and “Charles in Charge.” I was cautiously optimistic when Sylvia Gold, my agent at ICM, gave me the heads-up about a pilot script she was sending by messenger.

“I think you’ll like it,” she said. “It’s called ‘The Golden Girls.’ ”

June 03 2010 at 17:39:20
Name: LeeLee Woodward (via email to webmaster)
Topic: Ben Hevel
: I was sorry to learn of Ben Hevel's passing away last Thursday. Of course this site would be the one to find more information and personal stories about Ben.

I didn't really know Ben until I was selected to play the character "Dirk Winston" opposite Ben and Judy Pryor, along with Hal Pimsler and Marian March, in Jean Kerr's superb comedy, "Mary Mary." This play was directed by Howard Orms.

I found Ben to have a delightful sense of humor and liked him a lot. He was very generous and self deprecating and turned out to be delightful to work with. He was the P.D. at KTUL-TV then. He was also on the selection committee for actors at Tulsa Little Theater and so, may have had a say in my being asked to partake in this play.

Although Judy eventually came to work with me on "Sun-Up" at KOTV, she was at that time, with KVOO-TV. So, all three stations were represented.

Ben and I became re-acquainted after he came back to Tulsa and KJRH-TV. He was much the same and still full of good humor. After 2000, I lost contact with him.

I have included a photo from "Mary Mary", of the three principals, Bob and Mary Kellaway and Dirk Winston.

My condolences to his family and friends.

Courtesy of Lee Woodward

Lee with Judy Pryor and Ben Hevel

June 03 2010 at 13:51:40
Name: David Batterson
Topic: Rue
Email: dwbatterson(at)gmail(dot)com
Comments: According to IMDB.com, she was born in Healdton. "She graduated cum laude from the University of Tulsa with a degree in German and theatre arts. She was also the only female member of the school's science club."

Rue was remembered and pictured in GB 281 and GB 94, among other places on this site.

June 03 2010 at 10:30:40
Name: Erick
Topic: Rue McClanahan
: Another Golden Girl has passed away. I know she's received lots of mention here before, and I think she was a native Oklahoman.

June 02 2010 at 09:52:58
Name: Boyce Lancaster (via email and by permission)
Topic: Ben Hevel
Comments: Here is one of my remembrances of Ben:

I remember Ben as one of the most creative people I ever knew. Every year, when time came for our "client/agency" party to introduce our new fall program line-up, Ben would come up with wonderful ideas.

But one of the best, which sticks in my memory, was the year we put the new tall tower on the air. Ben portrayed the tower with its top in the Heavens with the angels and its base in Hell with the Devil. All this was done with stage sets, singers and dancers and the help of a seventeen piece orchestra... and, of course, a very large budget!

It was Ben who spent one entire day with me behind closed doors in his office explaining his job to me just before he left Channel 8 to go to WCPO-TV in Cincinnati, after which I would take his place at KTUL-TV. I have always been grateful for what he did. I will never forget this man.

More about Ben Hevel, who passed away last Thursday, in GB 311.

May 31 2010 at 19:17:33
Name: Rose Bowl Bunker Commander
Topic: Racist Riot
Comments: On this date in 1921, began the Tulsa White Racist Riot. To this day, it is uncertain for how many must we say, "RIP".


From the Final Report of the Oklahoma Commission to Study The Tulsa Race Riot of 1921:

"Although the exact total can never be determined, credible evidence makes it probable that many people, likely numbering between one and three hundred, were killed during the riot."


"That is why there will never be a better answer to the question of how many died than this: How many? Too many."

Here is my correspondence with Greg Saunders on the topic at his blog, "The Talent Show", about six years ago.

Also notable and relevant: Tulsa TV newsman Bob Hower wrote a book based on his grandfather's documentation of the riot. Read more about his book here.

Tangential to this subject, someone just wrote me about the origin of the name of Tulsa's GAP Band.

I remember them from what I think was the first Mayfest in 1974, playing downtown (and sounding great). I always understood the name to stand for Greenwood-Archer-Pine Band.

This correspondent is wondering if it is true that the name is in honor of the Race Riot, since it says on Wikipedia that the name was chosen to "honor the tragic but affirming memory of the streets that formed the African American business district of Tulsa, Oklahoma also called Black Wall Street".

He says: "Growing up in Tulsa as you did it was my understanding those were the streets they lived on at one time or another."

Can anyone speak authoritatively, like someone who knew the Wilson brothers personally at that time? My impression was that it represented geographic pride, but I may have been mistaken.

(Later note) Here is a history of Mayfest. It wasn't called Mayfest until '78, but there was a "Jubilee '73" that evolved into Mayfest. So my recollection of the date is feasible, but suspect. However, their first album was on Shelter Records in 1974, so I might have been especially aware of them due to the Leon connection.

May 31 2010 at 18:32:01
Name: Webmaster
Topic: Previous GroupBlog link

Archived GroupBlog 311.

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