This news footage shot by Gordon Wilkison for Austin's KTBC captures events surrounding a January 1959 meeting of the Headliners Club. Established in 1955 by Charles E. Green, who would later serve as the Executive Editor of the Austin American-Statesman, the exclusive organization's membership includes those who make and write the headlines. The club honors two such individuals in this footage: Pauline Phillips, the columnist behind the Dear Abby, and James Arness, the star of the television series Gunsmoke. Governor of Texas Price Daniel makes them honorary citizens of Texas. Next, a KTBC reporter interviews both Phillips (using her pen name Abigail Van Buren) and Arness. Arness appears in his character's costume. An interview with CBS news correspondent Eric Sevareid follows. Reporter Neal Spelce questions Sevareid about newly introduced civil rights legislation, no doubt referring to what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1960. Finally, the footage captures scenes of what is most likely the Headliners Club Annual Awards Banquet, hosted by broadcaster Cactus Pryor. Sevareid presents several awards to news organizations across Texas.
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.