This retrospective honors former University of Texas at Austin Head Coach Darrell K Royal, reviewing Royal's life and successful coaching career. It is narrated by Austin broadcast personality Cactus Pryor. Pryor and Royal co-hosted KTBC-TV's The Darrell Royal Show—a weekly television show reviewing the Longhorns' last game—during Royal's tenure as coach. The film often adopts a humorous tone, featuring skits by football players and athletics staff.
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.
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.
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.