“Mighty Mites,” Morton, and millions of azaleas

The 67th Annual North Carolina Azalea Festival will be presented in Wilmington April, 9 – 13, 2014.  World class entertainment and millions of azaleas will combine to welcome spring to the Tar Heel state again.  Wilmington’s celebration of spring began in 1948 and each year celebrity guests have been an important part of the festivities. Morton collection volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard takes a look at a special group of celebrities that came to the New Hanover County port city back in the 1950s.

1949 Queen of the North Carolina Azalea Festival, actress Martha Hyer, with her court.

1949 Queen of the North Carolina Azalea Festival, actress Martha Hyer, with her court.

A Prologue:

When the 1950 College All-Star football team reported to training camp at St. John’s Military Academy in Delafield, Wisconsin on Thursday, July 20, 1950, UNC’s great All America football star Charlie Justice met up with his old friend Doak Walker from Southern Methodist University (SMU) and new friend Eddie LeBaron from College of the Pacific (COP), which is now University of the Pacific.  Justice and Walker had become friends over the years when both were on most of the 1948 and 1949 All America teams and both had been pictured on the cover of Life.  Walker had been selected for the 1948 Heisman Trophy while Justice was first runner up.  And when UNC was in Dallas for the 1950 Cotton Bowl, Walker had helped the Tar Heels prepare for a game with Rice Institute (now Rice University).  Walker’s SMU team had played and lost to Rice, 41 to 27, on October 21st. Hugh Morton photographed Justice, Walker and UNC Head Coach Carl Snavely during one of the film screening sessions at the Melrose Hotel.  Also, Justice and Walker had gotten into the T-shirt business in early 1950 and Morton had done their publicity pictures.  Quarterback Eddie LeBaron had been selected All America in 1949 as well, and the three “country boys” hit it off.  All three loved watermelon and on the first day of camp they staked out a small country store which sold melons. “Put one on ice every afternoon,” Charlie told the store owner, “and we’ll come by and pick it up.” So every afternoon after practice the trio walked to the store, purchased their chilled melon, took it outside and sat on the curb enjoying the treat.

When game day arrived on August 11, 1950, the three “Mighty Mites,” as they were called (each was under six feet tall and weighed less than180 pounds) took the World Champion Philadelphia Eagles down by a score of 17 to 7. Hugh Morton didn’t attend the All-Star game, but he always included a wire photo from it in his slide shows.

❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀ ❀

Back in Wilmington after the War, I left town for a week, and while I was gone the local folks elected me chairman of the first Azalea Festival in 1948. —Hugh Morton, 1996

The Dallas Morning News issue of Saturday, March 18, 1950 featured the storybook, Friday night wedding of Doak Walker and his college sweetheart Norma Peterson.  The story said the couple would leave for a wedding trip to Canada “early next week . . . and will take another trip to North Carolina soon after they return.”  That North Carolina trip would be to the 1950 Azalea Festival in Wilmington, held March 30th through April 2nd.

Hal Love, president of the Azalea Festival Committee; Mrs. Norma Walker; Doak Walker; former Wilmington mayor E. L. White; and Cherokee leader McKinley Ross (with "Unto These Hills" program in pocket) at Bluethenthal Airport, Wilmington N. C., 31 March 1950.

Hal Love, president of the Azalea Festival Committee; Mrs. Norma Walker; Doak Walker; former Wilmington mayor E. L. White; and Cherokee leader McKinley Ross (with “Unto These Hills” program in pocket) at Bluethenthal Airport, Wilmington N. C., 31 March 1950.

Hugh Morton photographed Doak and Norma soon after they arrived in Wilmington.  Hugh’s wife Julia said in A View Hugh comment back in 2009, “I do remember that Doak and Norma and Charlie and Sarah (Justice) stayed with Hugh and me.  The festival didn’t have as much available money back in those days, and they were our friends.”

Charlie and Sarah Justice had been part of the 1949 festival. Charlie had crowned Queen Azalea II who was movie star Martha Hyer and many remember how the photographers covering that event had insisted that Justice kiss the Queen and he very obligingly followed through on the request.  Morton’s photograph in The State for April 16, 1949 (page 5) showed Justice with lipstick on his face.  (The original negative for this shot is no longer extant, but there is a similar negative made moments apart.)

Walter Doak during the 1950 North Carolina Azalea Festival

Charlie Justice and Doak Walker during the 1950 North Carolina Azalea Festival parade.  This scan of Morton’s negative shows the entire scene, which is usually cropped in publications.

During the 1950 festival, Morton took several pictures of Doak and Charlie, and Norma and Sarah: a beautiful shot of both couples at Arlie Gardens, and a shot from the parade on Saturday, April 1st. The parade image was reproduced in the 1958 Bob Quincy–Julian Scheer book, Choo Choo; The Charlie Justice Story, on page 112.  The same picture was also included in the 2002 Bob Terrell book All Aboard, but with an incorrect caption.  That image is on page 182. And of course, The State magazine issue of April 15, 1950 (page 3) included a Morton picture of Justice and Walker at the crowing ceremony where Justice passed the crown to Walker who crowned Gregg Sherwood as Queen Azalea III.

When Charlie and Sarah arrived in Wilmington for the 1951 festival, Hugh Morton had put in place a new event. On Saturday afternoon, March 31st, there was a special golf match at the Cape Fear Country Club.  It was called “Who Crowns the Azalea Queen?” and it pitted broadcasters Harry Wismer and Ted Malone against football greats Charlie Justice and Otto Graham—nine holes—winners crown Queen Margaret Sheridan Queen Azalea IV. And the winners . . . Charlie Justice and Otto Graham.

The day following the 1950 All-Star game, Eddie LeBaron left for Camp Pendleton and Marine duty. He would spend nine months in Korea and would receive a letter of commendation for heroism, a Bronze Star and a purple heart. Lt. Eddie LeBaron was back home in time to accept Hugh Morton’s invitation to the 1952 Azalea Festival. Again, as in 1951, there was a “Who Crowns the Azalea Queen?” golf match. This time with ABC broadcaster Harry Wismer, writer Hal Boyle, bandleader Tony Pastor, and football greats Justice, LeBaron, and Otto Graham.  The football guys won and would be part of the crowning ceremony for Queen Azalea V, Cathy Downs. A tightly cropped version of Morton’s crowning shot is also in Chris Dixon’s 2001 book Ghost Wave (unnumbered center picture page).

Later, in November, 1952, Hugh Morton took in a Washington Redskins game and photographed Justice, LeBaron, and Graham at Old Griffith Stadium.

In March of 1953, Charlie and Sarah Justice made their fifth Festival appearance as Alexis Smith became Queen Azalea VI on Saturday, March 28th.

Eddie LeBaron would return to Wilmington for the ‘58 Festival, along with Andy Griffith who crowned Queen Azalea XI, Esther Williams on March 29, 1958. Morton photographed LeBaron with Andy and NC Governor Luther Hodges.

The “Mighty Mites” were special Azalea Festival guests and were special friends of Hugh Morton, who in 1997, at the 50th Festival was honored with a star on the Wilmington Riverfront Walk of Fame and was the Festival Grand Marshal.

An Epilogue:
Doak Walker’s marriage to Norma Peterson ended in divorce in 1965 and four years later he married Olympic skier Skeeter Werner.  They lived in Steamboat Springs, Colorado until his death as a result of paralyzing injuries suffered in a skiing accident. Walker’s death on September 27, 1998 came ironically 50 years to the day of his Life magazine cover issue.

Prior to the planning sessions for the Charlie Justice statue, which now stands outside the Kenan Football Center on the UNC campus, Hugh Morton visited the Doak Walker statue at SMU.  Morton decided, unlike the Walker statue, that Charlie would not wear his helmet so everyone could easily recognize him.

Charlie Justice passed away on October 17, 2003 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s.  Charlie’s wife Sarah died four months later.

Hugh Morton “slipped peacefully away from us all on June 1, 2006.”  Those words from Morton’s dear friend Bill Friday.

Eddie LeBaron played professional football with Charlie Justice for two seasons with the Washington Redskins.  After Charlie’s retirement, the two remained close friends.  LeBaron participated in a Multiple Sclerosis Celebrity Roast for Charlie in 1980, and both were Hugh Morton’s guests at the Highland Games in 1984. Justice and LeBaron were also celebrity guests at the Freedom Classic Celebrity Golf Tournament in Charlotte in 1989 and 1990.  LeBaron lives in Sacramento, California and continues to play golf in his retirement.  Due to his diminutive size, 5 feet, 7 inches, and his leadership skills from his military service, he is often called the “Littlest General.”

Posted in Azalea Festival, Celebrities, Football, Photojournalism, Sports, UNC | Comments Off

Artifact of the Month: Puffer fish from UNC’s Wilson Hall

Maybe the suddenly spring-like weather has a hold on me, but I can’t shake the thought that our April Artifact of the Month is smiling.

puffer fish

This puffer fish is part of a large collection of artifacts and specimens that were transferred to the North Carolina Collection Gallery in 2005. The objects came from UNC’s Wilson Hall, which housed the University’s Zoology Department and its library.

The Gallery accepted the transfer of these objects when Wilson Hall undertook a massive renovation. The collection, which includes hundreds of animal specimens and fossils, accentuates the Gallery’s goal of preserving items relating to natural history and the history of science at the University.

North Carolina Collection Gallery

NCC Gallery. Photo by Jay Mangum.

As part of the Gallery’s own renovation, we’ve recently upgraded our natural history exhibit, which features biographical panels on important naturalists, specimens from Wilson Hall, and original prints by John James Audubon.

Currently, the puffer fish can be seen in the exhibit Rooms of Wonder: From Wunderkammer to Museum, 1565-1865, in the Saltarelli Exhibit Room in Wilson Library, until April 17.

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A Sudden Ending and a New Beginning: The Assasination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Birth of UNC’s Black Student Movement

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham, AL on April 30th, 1966.  From the Records of the Black Student Movement, #40400, University Archives, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Birmingham, AL on April 30th, 1966. From the Records of the Black Student Movement, #40400, University Archives, Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

On April 4th, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot and killed at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee.  As the nation reeled in shock, UNC-Chapel Hill also reacted to the vicious ending of a life dedicated to the non-violent pursuit of Civil Rights.

UNC-Chapel Hill officials held a memorial service attended by over 2,000 people, but the Black Student Movement (BSM) staged its own remembrances of Dr. King. On April 6th, members of the BSM marched down Franklin Street and burned several Confederate flags on the lawn of the Kappa Alpha Fraternity house.  At the time, Kappa Alpha was supportive of the Old South and the Confederacy.

In addition to holding a separate memorial service for Dr. King, the BSM also called on the campus’ African American workers to not attend work on April 9th.  Although Chancellor Sitterson had announced a half-day for campus workers on April 7th, Preston Dobbins (the president of the BSM) encouraged the day of remembrance because he felt that the University had not responded to Dr. King’s assassination with the appropriate amount of respect. Ninety percent of the African American workers on campus stayed home from work that day.

The Constitution of the Black Student Movement from folder 25, box 3, of the Records of the Black Student Movement, #40400, University Archives, Wilson Library, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Constitution of the Black Student Movement from folder 25, box 3, of the Records of the Black Student Movement, #40400, University Archives, Wilson Library, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The BSM may be most remembered for the 23 demands of December 1968, but the students’ collaboration with the campus workers in the wake of Dr. King’s assassination was an important first step in the relationship between the two groups. Over the years, students of the BSM have supported UNC-Chapel Hill’s non-academic workers such as groundskeepers, food workers, and housekeepers.

Today, we at University Archives remember the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the birth of the Black Student Movement on our campus.  Although the group began in such dark times, we commend them for forging relationships on our campus and moving forward.

Visit The Carolina Story, UNC’s virtual history museum, for more information on the Black Student Movement.

Posted in African-American history, Black Student Movement, Martin Luther King Jr., MLK, UNC, University Archives, University History | Comments Off

“I don’t know what he means unless it was the bell ringing or the fireball.”

John Stronach's letter to his father, responding to President Battle's accusations of bad behavior.

John Stronach’s letter to his father, responding to President Battle’s accusations of bad behavior. (University of North Carolina Papers #40005, University Archives)

If you’re looking for someone to help you plan an April Fool’s Day prank, look no further than John B. Stronach, class of 1893. President of the Eating Club (“Record, 31 bananas in 13 ¾ minutes,” according to the 1890 Hellenian), and member of both the “Gunning Club” and “Whist Club,” the Raleigh native seems to have had a knack for getting into trouble.  

In February, 1890, UNC President Kemp Battle wrote to John Stronach’s father, W.C. Stronach, concerned about the young student’s behavior. His shocked and dismayed father responded immediately to President Battle, enclosing his son’s own version of events (transcribed in full below).

March 2, 1890
Dear Father,

I am very sorry indeed that Dr. Battle had to write to you about me, but think he has it a little larger than it was. I will tell you just how it is and what I did. You remember when I told you about my shooting the gun, ever since then every thing that is done he calls me up. Once again, I was beating on a tin tub in my room and Prof. Cain came in and asked me to stop. Those two times are the only ones that I have been caught and about the only times I have done anything again. The night some boys wrung [sic] the bell,  I was in my room and did not even go out again. He had me up. Thursday night a crowd of boys wrung [sic] the bell and made a ball of fire and went around to scare the boys by turning it around before the windows and crying fire. I was down town in Lee Woodard’s room when they made the ball. I came up in a little while and went around to see the fire but did not touch it. I hollered as everybody else did and this is about all I have done as for the late at night, etc. I don’t know what he means unless it was the bell ringing or the fire ball.

Mike is coming down Thursday or Friday and will come to see you. I am very sorry that I have caused you so much trouble and hope that you will see that it is not as bad as Dr. Battle makes it out. I hope mother will not be very sick and is even now better. Doctor as [sic] been very sick for the last three or four days with his temper but is very much better today.
Give love to every.
Your loveing [sic] son,
Jno. B. Stronach

 

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Restless Raleigh

“‘Fortune’s Tennis Ball’: Sir Walter Raleigh as Writer and Subject” will be the topic of a discussion by three speakers at Wilson Library today, Tuesday April 1st, at 3:00 p.m.  The panel will include Christopher M. Armitage, UNC Professor of English and Comparative Literature—who served as the editor to the recently published book Literary and Visual Ralegh (that’s not a typo), published last year by Manchester University Press—and two contributors to the book: Thomas Herron, Associate Professor in the Department of English at East Carolina University, and Julian Lethbridge, Lecturer, English Language and Literature, at the University of Tübingen in Germany.  The North Carolina Collection is sponsoring the talk and will be displaying Raleigh’s History of the World (published at London, and printed for Walter Bvrre, in 1614) and his The history of the world: in five books (one set of this edition belonged to Edward Gibbon, who wrote The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  In diary entries from 1762 and 1763 Gibbon documented his reading of books by and about Raleigh.)  Other items from the NCC’s Sir Walter Raleigh Collection will also be on display.

Statue of Sir Walter Raleigh in downtown Raleigh, N. C.

Statue of Sir Walter Raleigh in downtown Raleigh, N. C. photographed by Hugh Morton in April 1979.

With that shameless plug out of the way . . . here at A View to Hugh, I couldn’t pass up the chance to show Hugh Morton’s photographs of Sir Walter Raleigh.  Well, not the gent born more than 200 years before the conception of photography, but more recent incarnations caught by Morton’s camera.

First up—the statue of Sir Walter in downtown Raleigh, photographed in 1979.  Talk about a tennis ball . . . this statue has been relocated several times since its dedication on December 3rd, 1976.  You can learn some of its history by reading this statue’s entry in “Commemorative Landscape,” a website published by UNC Library’s Documenting the American South.  Seems like the London’s statue of Raleigh has had to endure relocation, too.  Maybe better heads will prevail and these statues will continue to stand statuesquely in their final resting places.

Andy Griffith as Sir Walter Raleigh with other cast members of "The Lost Colony" outdoor drama, circa late 1940s-early 1950sNext . . . Sir Walter, Mount Airy style.  Andy Griffith played the role of Raleigh in The Lost Colony, which we blogged about back in 2012.

There’s also a photograph of the British queen receiving Raleigh.

Luther Hodges presents statue of Sir Walter Raleigh to Qeen Elizabeth IIThere are a couple handfuls of other related “Raleigh” images by Morton in the online collection.  Take a gander!

 

Posted in Events, Literature, UNC | Comments Off

Playmakers’ History Will Be Topic of April 8 Lecture

Playmakers_lecture_thumbPlaymakers_lecture_thumbUniversity Historian Cecelia Moore will deliver the lecture "A Model for Folk Theatre" as the 2014 Gladys Hall Coates University History Lecture. Continue reading
Posted in Collections and Resources, Events, Homepage Headlines, Homepage Special Collections, North Carolina Collection, North Carolina History, Special Collections, UNC History | Comments Off

A March without Madness . . . a season without banners

When Carolina lost three ACC games in a row early this season, some Tar Heel fans started looking back over their shoulders at that dismal 2001-2002 season.  Coach

Williams and the 2013-2014 Heels righted the ship and won 12 in a row before dropping the final game of the season to Duke; and then came a disappointment at the ACC Tournament quarterfinals with a loss to ACC newcomer Pittsburgh.  Morton volunteer/contributor Jack Hilliard looks back at that ’01-‘02 season . . . a season most Tar Heels would just as soon forget.

One Tar Heel I will never forget is Bill Richards.  Bill passed away two years ago on March 18th while watching the Tar Heels play their “Sweet Sixteen” game against Creighton in the NCAA tournament.  In addition to being an avid UNC football and basketball fan, Bill was the senior digitization technician in the library’s Digital Production Center.  In 1982, Bill was the Chief Photographer for the Chapel Hill Newspaper,  In 1988, he began working as a photographer and graphic designer in the UNC Office of Sports information.  He began working in the Library Photographic Service  in 1998, but continued working for Sports information into the 2000s. Today’s post is dedicated to Bill.

This year’s Tar Heel fans will still have their dose of Madness: UNC made the NCAA Tournament as the 6th seed in the East.

Jackie Manuel (UNC, #5) shooting during the quarterfinals of 2002 ACC basketball tournament, UNC-Chapel Hill versus Duke University basketball game, Charlotte Coliseum, NC. Jason Capel (UNC, #25) boxes out Duke's Mike Dunleavy (#34), while Carlos Boozer (#4) awaits a possible rebound. Duke won 60 to 48.  Boozer and Dunleavy are currently teammates and active players for the Chicago Bulls in the National Basketball Association.

Jackie Manuel (UNC, #5) shooting during the quarterfinals match-up in the 2002 ACC basketball tournament between UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke at Charlotte Coliseum. Jason Capel (UNC, #25) boxes out Duke’s Mike Dunleavy (#34), while Carlos Boozer (#4) awaits a possible rebound. Duke won the game 60 to 48. Boozer and Dunleavy are currently teammates and active players for the Chicago Bulls in the National Basketball Association.

On Friday, November 16, 2001, there were reasons to celebrate on the UNC campus.  The basketball program signed three of the top high school players in the country.  (Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, and Sean May would lead the Tar Heels to a national championship in 2005.) The “Charlie Justice Era” players were in town for a reunion and would dedicate the “Charlie Justice Hall of Honor” in the Kenan Football Center and were honored guests at halftime of the UNC-Duke football game on Saturday, November 17th,  a game in which Head Coach John Bunting’s Tar Heels beat Duke 52 to 17.  Head Basketball Coach Matt Doherty’s 20th ranked 2001-2002 Tar Heels were scheduled to open the season in the Smith Center with a game against Head Coach Steve Merfield’s Hampton University Pirates, and that game would mark legendary “Voice of the Tar Heels” Woody Durham’s 1,000th basketball broadcast on the Tar Heel Sports Network.

With all of that going on, the sports headline in Saturday’s Greensboro’s News & Record read in large bold type:

HEELS HUMBLED

Hampton, a team that had been picked to finish third in the Middle-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC), beat the Tar Heels 77 to 69. Carolina led only once at 2 to 0, attempted 34 shots from the 3-point line but made only 6, and couldn’t handle the Pirates’ packed-back zone.  It was just the second loss in a home opener since the 1928-29 season for Carolina.  To give Hampton due credit, the Pirates went on to compile a 26-7 record, finishing as the 2001-2002 MEAC regular season champions.  They won the MEAC Tournament and were selected as the 2002 National Black College Champions.  To cap off their successful season, they earned the 15th seed in the East bracket of the Division 1 NCAA Tournament.  Hampton lost their first-round contest to Connecticut—who made it all the way to the NCAA final, only to lose to the ACC’s Maryland.

When Davidson came to town four days later, things didn’t get much better and then a loss to Indiana on November 28th in the ACC – Big 10 Challenge and the Tar Heels had set a record three game losing streak to start the season—all at home.  Finally, on December 2nd Carolina beat Georgia Tech in the Smith Center 83 to 77 with a trip to Kentucky looming in six days.

Defeated by twenty points in Lexington at Rupp Arena, Tar Heel fans were at a loss.  What was wrong?  When a one-point-win came on December 16th against Binghamton, Tar Heel fans said OK we regroup at the Tournament of Champions in Charlotte.  Well, not really.  On December 21st, College of Charleston handed the Tar Heels an opening round loss 66 to 60 but the following night, Carolina came back with a win against St. Joseph’s.  That win was followed by two more wins, against North Carolina A&T and Texas A&M.  OK . . . a three game winning streak.

What followed was new territory for Tar Heel fans. From January 5, 2002 until January 23rd, Carolina lost six games—five of them ACC games and a 32-point loss at Connecticut.

On January 27th Carolina beat Clemson on the road—one of only two road wins all season.  Next came five more ACC losses before a home win against Florida State on February 17th.  Ten days later, Carolina won its final game of the 2001-2002 season, a game against Clemson in the Smith Center.

The final two games of the season were both against Duke: a loss in Cameron and a loss in the first round of the ACC Tournament in Charlotte.  The season was finally over . . . no NCAA . . . no NIT . . . it was over and was a record-setter.

Carolina lost

  • 20 games
  • 12 ACC games
  • 9 home games
  • 5 consecutive home games
  • 5 consecutive ACC games
  • and three straight home games to open the season.

Finishing seventh in the ACC was the lowest ever for a Carolina team. Needless to say, there was no March Madness in 2002 (NCAA or NIT) for the first time since 1966 and there are no winning banners in the rafters of the Smith Center for 2001-02 season.

The headline writer at the News & Record could have recycled that “HEELS HUMBLED” headline from November 17th and run it again to close out a season most Tar Heel fans would like to forget.

Editor’s Note: Morton photographed several UNC basketbal games during the 2001-2002 season, but the only photographs in the online collection are images from the Duke versus UNC games in 2002.  See the collection finding aid for a more complete listing.

Posted in Basketball, Sports, UNC | Comments Off

Happy 120th birthday, Paul Green!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day, so lots of people are wearing green. But at UNC, we’re celebrating another kind of Green—playwright Paul Green, who was born 120 years ago today.

lc_paulgreen

Author  Paul Green (from the UNC Press Records, #40073, University Archives).

Paul Green, born in Lillington, North Carolina, enrolled at UNC in 1916. However, his academic career was interrupted by World War I—he enlisted in 1917 and served overseas before returning to UNC in 1919. During his time at UNC, he was a student of Fredrick Koch, the head of the UNC Department of Dramatic Arts and the founder of the Carolina Playmakers. He graduated in 1922 with a degree in philosophy. The same year, he married a fellow student of Koch, Elizabeth Lay. In 1923, after his graduate studies, Green returned to UNC as a professor of philosophy.

During this time, Green published many acclaimed works, including In Abraham’s Bosom (1929), for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, The House of Connelly (1931) , Roll Sweet Chariot (1935), and Johnny Johnson (1937), which featured music by Kurt Weill. In 1941, he collaborated with Richard Wright to adapt Wright’s Native Son for the stage. Many of his works addressed themes of racism, and poverty, and war, reflecting his lifelong activism for human rights.

lc_performance_1937

A scene from an early production of the Lost Colony in which Sir Walter Raleigh speaks with Queen Elizabeth I (from the UNC Press Records, #40073, University Archives).

While Green’s work was well-received on New York stages, one of his greatest contributions to American theatre happened far from Broadway. In 1937, he published The Lost Colony, a “symphonic drama” about the ill-fated Roanoke Island Colony to be performed on the island itself, off the coast of North Carolina. The play, first performed in 1937 as part of the celebration of the 350th anniversary of Virginia Dare’s birth, is still running today. Having only suspended production during the years of World War II, it is the longest-running outdoor drama in the country. The Lost Colony established the genre of outdoor drama in the United States, and Green went on to write 14 more plays of this type.

From 1939 to 1944, Green worked as a professor of dramatic arts at UNC, then devoted himself solely to writing. His work includes not only plays but essays, short stories, screenplays, radio dramas, two novels, and music.

In 1968, UNC built the Paul Green Theatre, which is named in his honor.  In 1979, Green was named North Carolina Dramatist Laureate. After his death in 1981, Green was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame (1993) and the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame (1996), reflecting his impact on the literary world on both a national and local level.

Posted in birthday, elizabeth lay, Faculty, frederick koch, lost colony, outdoor drama, paul green, theater, University Archives, University History | Comments Off

Playmakers Madness!

The Southern Historical Collection is proud to present our 2014 bracket, Playmakers Madness! In celebration of the current North Carolina Collection Gallery exhibit, Making a People’s Theater: Proff Koch and the Carolina Playmakers, our 2014 bracket will feature some of our favorite photographs from over fifty years of Carolina Playmakers productions.

Playmakers Photo Bracket

From production shots to publicity stills to behind the scenes moments, these images from the North Carolina Collection capture the amazing range of performances the Playmakers put on between 1918 and 1976.  These are just a few of our favorite acting moments, costumes, and props, and we’re passing them on to you to choose the winner.

Starting today, we’ll be releasing a new poll every day with paired photographs to our Google poll, and also linked to our Facebook page.  Here’s one of our runner-up pairings as an example of what you’ll see:

The Taming of the Shrew, 1969 (left) and The Boy Friend, 1971.

The Taming of the Shrew, 1969 (top) and The Boy Friend, 1971.

You’ll be able to vote for your favorite in each pairing, and we’ll eliminate contenders, tournament-style, until a winner is crowned.  Happy voting, and we hope you enjoy the show!

UPDATE: We have a winner! The votes are in, and your favorite photograph is Experimental Play, 1947!

Playmakers Madness 2014 Champion: Experimental Play (1947) from the UNC Photographic Laboratory Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Playmakers Madness 2014 Champion: Experimental Play (1947) from the UNC Photographic Laboratory Collection, North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

This photograph shows a scene from one of the many student-written one act plays produced by the Carolina Playmakers, and we sure wish we knew what it was about.

For more about the Playmakers be sure to check out Making a People’s Theater, on display in the North Carolina Collection Gallery through May 31st.
Thanks for voting, and we’ll see you next year!

Playmakers Madness 2014 Final Bracket

Playmakers Madness 2014 Final Bracket

Posted in Education, In the News, University of North Carolina | Comments Off

Doris Betts, a Greyhound Bus, and an Academy Award

Did you know that one of Doris Betts’ short stories was adapted into an Academy Award-winning short film?
In 1969, the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts was published in the Red Clay Reader, an annual magazine focusing on the work of southern authors and artists.  Betts, a UNC English professor, was also an award-winning author short stories, novels, plays, and poetry.  “The Ugliest Pilgrim” told the story of a disfigured young woman named Violet who travels by bus from her home in Spruce Pine, North Carolina to Tulsa, Oklahoma in the hopes of being healed by a televangelist.

Ugliest Pilgrim

“The Ugliest Pilgrim,” published in the Red Clay Reader, 1969. From folder 176 in the Doris Betts Papers, #4695.

 

In 1981, “The Ugliest Pilgrim” was adapted into a short film titled Violet, which in 1982 garnered the Academy Award for Best Short Film.  The film starred Didi Conn in the title role, otherwise known for her portrayal of “Frenchy” in the film Grease. UNC celebrated the success of the adaptation with a screening at the Carolina Fall Festival that year.

Carolina Fall Festival Program, 1982, featuring a screening of “Violet.” From folder 177 in the Doris Betts Papers #4695

“The Ugliest Pilgrim” was later adapted into a musical (also titled Violet), by Jeanine Tesori and Brian Crawley, which has been performed across the country, including a production by Playmakers Repertory Company.  A one-act adaptation starring Sutton Foster will debut on Broadway this month.

Productions of "Violet" by Playwrights Horizons (New York, NY) and Playmakers Repertory Company (UNC-Chapel Hill). From folder 179 in the Doris Betts Papers, #4695.

Productions of “Violet” by Playwrights Horizons (New York, NY) and Playmakers Repertory Company (UNC-Chapel Hill). From folder 179 in the Doris Betts Papers, #4695.

 

From the Doris Betts Papers #4695, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

 

Posted in University of North Carolina, Women, Writers | Comments Off