Galveston: The Gilded Age of the Golden Isle is a documentary directed by University of Houston alumnus Robert Cozens, the director of Film Operations at KUHT, Houston's PBS affiliate. It was broadcast nationally on PBS on June 24, 1977. Paying particular attention to Galveston's economic development and Victorian architecture, the film traces the history of the city from its settlement by the Karankawa people to the throes of Prohibition. It also overviews ongoing restoration projects, such those related to the Strand Historic District and Grand Opera House.
Filmmaker King Wallis Vidor was born on February 8, 1894, in Galveston. His father, Charles Shelton Vidor, was a lumber producer and merchant with the Miller-Vidor Lumber Company, headquartered in Galveston. (The towns of Vidor and Milvand were named after him.) Growing up in the coastal city, Vidor survived the Galveston Hurricane of 1900.
Vidor began his career in film as a teenager, working as local a freelance newsreel cameraman and projectionist. After making a few amateur films, he opened his first film company, Hotex, in Houston. In 1915, a 21-year-old Vidor moved to Hollywood, directing his first feature film four years later. In 1922, he won a long-term contract with Goldwyn Studios (later part of MGM). Following the commercial success of The Big Parade (1925), Vidor became one of MGM's top studio directors. In 1929, he made his first sound film, Hallelujah!, which was also the first all-black musical.
Vidor's successful career as a director continued well into the Golden Age of Hollywood, including Stella Dallas (1937), Duel in the Sun (1946), The Fountainhead (1949), and War and Peace (1956). He also directed the Kansas sequences in The Wizard of Oz (1939), including "Over the Rainbow," but did not receive screen credit. Vidor received five Academy Award nominations for Best Director, winning an Honorary Award in 1979 for his life's achievements. Directing films until 1980, he was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest career as a film director.
Vidor died on November 1, 1982, in California. He was 88 years old.