Little Rock Look Back: Carol Channing

Carol C2On January 31, 1921, future “Little Girl from Little Rock” Carol Channing was born. Alas it was in Seattle.

After gaining the notice of New York critics and audiences in the musical revue, Lend an Ear, Channing achieved Broadway stardom playing fictional Little Rock native Lorelei Lee (the creation of Anita Loos) in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.  In this show, which opened in December 1949, she introduced the Leo Robin-Jule Styne songs “Little Girl from Little Rock” and “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”  Her work in this show predated Tony Award nominations being announced.  (The Tony that year went to Mary Martin for playing another Little Rock native – Nellie Forbush in South Pacific).

Her first Tony nomination came for the The Vamp in 1956. Five years later, she earned a second nomination for Show Girl.  In 1964, she won the Actress in a Musical Tony for her second signature role playing the title character in Hello, Dolly!  Channing also earned a special Tony in 1968 for Dolly when it became the longest-running Broadway musical.

She returned to Lorelei Lee in the reworked update entitled Lorelei and earned a Tony nomination.  In 1995 she earned a Lifetime Achievement Tony.

In the 1960s, she visited Little Rock on a tour of Hello, Dolly! which played at Robinson Auditorium. It was arguably the biggest Broadway show to have played Robinson at that time.  While she was in Little Rock she spent time at the Governor’s Mansion and was made an honorary citizen of Little Rock.  (Nearly 30 years later, she recounted very glowingly her Little Rock visit to the Culture Vulture.)

In 1993, she spent her birthday in Washington DC at a White House dinner for the National Governors’ Association.  This was the Clintons’ first offiical White House dinner after moving in to the residence eleven days prior.  President Bill Clinton led the crowd in singing “Happy Birthday” to her.  She remarked to the President that she was Christian Scientist and didn’t celebrate birthdays, which meant she didn’t get any older.  He replied that it meant the night was her first birthday (it was her 72nd in actuality).

Little Rock Look Back: Congressman David D. Terry

david_terry_fOn January 31, 1881, future U.S. Congressman David Dickson Terry was born in Little Rock.  He was the son of William Leake Terry, who would serve in Congress from 1891 until 1901.  At the time David was born, his father was Little Rock City Attorney.  His mother was Mollie C. Dickson Terry. His parents also had two other sons, and after his mother’s death and his father’s remarriage, David had a half-sister.  He attended school in Virginia, and studied law in Little Rock and Chicago.

In 1910, he married Adolphine Fletcher, daughter of a former Little Rock mayor.  They had four children: David, Sarah, William and Mary. They later adopted a fifth child, Joseph.  The family lived in the Albert Pike Mansion, now known today as the Pike-Fletcher-Terry House.

In 1918, at the age of 37, David enlisted for service in World War I.  During the war, he would remain stateside.  Due to some family health issues, after the war he split his time between Little Rock and Massachusetts.  By the late 1920s, he had returned to Little Rock pretty much full time.

Continuing with his family’s commitment to public service, he served as president of the Little Rock Boys Club beginning in 1928. He oversaw a fundraising drive which raised $150,000 to replace a building destroyed by fire in 1930.  From 1929 until 1933, he served on the Little Rock School Board.

In 1933, David began service in the Arkansas House of Representatives.  The next year, he was elected to Congress to fill a vacancy in a hotly-contested election.  After the primary, he had barely made it into a runoff with Brooks Hays. But he ended up defeating Hays by 625 votes. Hays and his supporters protested due to election irregularities in Yell County, but David Terry was declared the winner.

Though he often was fiscally very conservative, he was also a strong advocate for the New Deal. His first bill in congress was to provide relief for financially strapped Arkansas schools.  In 1942, he decided to run for the Senate, but lost to John L. McClellan.  He ran unsuccessfully for Governor in 1944.  The winner that year, Ben Laney, appointed David Terry to lead the Flood Control, Water and Soil Conservation office. He held this position until 1953.

In later years, he kept a lower profile, even as his wife continued to raise her profile.  Arguably more people in Little Rock today are familiar with Adolphine Fletcher Terry and her efforts to reopen the Little Rock public schools than with the Congressman.

He died on October 6, 1963 and is buried at Mount Holly Cemetery.

The Terry Lock and Dam and the Little Rock School District’s Terry Elementary are both named for the former Congressman.

Enjoy the Winter Fair today at the Old State House Museum

osh_img_OSH_Winter_Fair_logo_copyThe Old State House Museum invites people to break out of the winter doldrums and join them for their Winter Fair!

They will have crafts, games, music, and refreshments for the whole family to enjoy. Learn how to make a snow globe, play games on the Old State House lawn, visit with living history interpreters, and watch a puppet show and make your own puppets.

You can also watch a master ice carver create a magical sculpture from a block of ice. Refreshments, including hot cocoa and kettle corn, will be served, as well as festive music throughout the afternoon.

The event runs from 1pm to 4pm today (January 30).  Drop in any time, admission and refreshments are free!

The Old State House Museum is an agency of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.

Firebird Suite headlines ASO Masterworks Concert this weekend

ASO firebirdThe Arkansas Symphony Orchestra, Philip Mann, Music Director and Conductor, presents the first 2016 concert of the Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series: Firebird Suite, 7:30 PM Saturday, January 30 and 3:00 PM Sunday, January 31, 2016, at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center.

Under the baton of music director Philip Mann, the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra will perform Rossini’s La gazza ladra: Overture, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E minor, Op. 64 – featuring ASO co-concertmaster Kiril Laskarov, Visconti’s Black Bend and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite. The Masterworks Series is sponsored by the Stella Boyle Smith Trust.

Concert Conversations – All concert ticket holders are invited to a pre-concert lecture an hour before each Masterworks concert. These talks feature insights from the Maestro and guest artists, and feature musical examples to enrich the concert experience.

Tickets are $19, $35, $49, and $58; active duty military and student tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at; at the Maumelle Performing Arts Center box office beginning 90 minutes prior to a concert; or by phone at 501-666-1761, ext. 100. All Arkansas students grades K-12 are admitted to Sunday’s matinee free of charge with the purchase of an adult ticket using the Entergy Kids’ Ticket, downloadable at the ASO website.

Kiril Laskarov, ASO Concertmaster for 17 years, steps to the front of the orchestra to perform Mendelssohn’s beloved Violin Concerto. The tradition of the concertmaster as a featured soloist with the orchestra is long and healthy, and the ASO is proud to present Mr. Laskarov with this work. Featured soloist Kiril Laskarov will perform the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto on this “golden period” Stradivarius violin. These instruments are world famous and highly sought-after for there unique sound and quality. “Le Brun” was notably played by the famed violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini.

Composer Dan Visconti has spent the week in Little Rock for residency activities, including private lessons with high school students, presentations to classes, and speaking engagements.

About Arkansas Symphony Orchestra

The Arkansas Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 50th season in 2015-2016, under the leadership of Music Director Philip Mann. ASO is the resident orchestra of Robinson Center Music Hall, and performs more than sixty concerts each year for more than 165,000 people through its Stella Boyle Smith Masterworks Series, ACXIOM Pops LIVE! Series, River Rhapsodies Chamber Music Series, and numerous concerts performed around the state of Arkansas, in addition to serving central Arkansas through numerous community outreach programs and bringing live symphonic music education to over 26,000 school children and over 200 schools.

Little Rock Look Back: FDR

Gov. & Mrs. Roosevelt with Sen. Robinson en route to FDR taking oath as president.

Gov. & Mrs. Roosevelt with Sen. Robinson en route to FDR taking oath as president.

On January 30, 1882, future U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born.  In 1936, he visited Little Rock as part of a statewide tour in conjunction with Arkansas’ Centennial celebration.  While in the state he spent time outside of Hot Springs at Couchwood, the vacation home of Arkansas Power & Light founder Harvey Couch, who was the chair of the Centennial activities.

In honor of President Roosevelt’s visit, a portion of Highway 365 in Little Rock was designated Roosevelt Road. He followed part of that road while in the Capital City before making a public appearance.

President Roosevelt’s address on June 10, recounted Arkansas’ territorial and statehood history. At the end he paid tribute to his Senator Joseph Taylor Robinson.  The Senator was a friend and confidant who often led the charge for FDR programs in congress.  Indeed, it would be New Deal programs which would allow for the construction of a municipal auditorium in Little Rock, which would be named in memory of Sen. Robinson after his death in the summer of 1937.  (As the Democratic leader of the Senate, it had been Robinson who accompanied FDR and Eleanor in the motorcade to the 1933 Presidential inauguration ceremony.)

FDR’s visit to Arkansas had political implications as well.  The late Senator Huey Long of neighboring Louisiana had been arguably FDR’s biggest adversary in Washington.  Long was very popular in rural areas of Arkansas and had campaigned for Hattie Caraway when she ran for re-election to the Senate, to the dismay of many of Arkansas’ Democratic establishment.  Harvey Couch had worked to bring about a detente between FDR and Long prior to the latter’s assassination in 1935.  But between a lingering mistrust of FDR by Long supporters and discontent from some sectors based on New Deal programs, it was important for FDR to shore up Democratic support in Arkansas.  At the time the state had nine electoral votes.

Early in World War II, President Roosevelt used a fireside chat to promote the heroism of Little Rock native Corydon Wassell, who had saved several troops in the South Pacific.  FDR would return to Central Arkansas in 1943 to review troops at the military facility named for Sen. Robinson.  That would be his final visit to Arkansas before his death in April 1945.

Coca-Cola Collectors’ Convention today at Clinton Center

Coca-Cola-Bottle-History-v2-hiDo you have unique Coca-Cola products or memorabilia you would like appraised?

Join Ted Ryan, Director of Heritage Communications for The Coca-Cola Company, at the Clinton Center on Saturday, January 30, for a Coca-Cola Collectors’ Convention. Learn more about your Coca-Cola treasures and connect with other Coca-Cola aficionados.

The Clinton Center will also have FREE family activities in conjunction with their current temporary exhibit, Coca-Cola: An American Original, including “Recreate an Original,” an opportunity to become part of Norman Rockwell’s original paintings, Out Fishin’ and Barefoot Boy.

Collectors’ Convention
10:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Coca-Cola Family Activity
10:00 a.m. – 2 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public, but regular admission fees apply to tour the Library.

Arkansas Sounds presents Mad Nomad and Ghost Bones at the CALS Ron Robinson tonight

arkansas_sounds_2013Tonight at the CALS Ron Robinson Theater, Arkansas Sounds presents Mad Nomad and Ghost Bones.

This evening evening of fresh, energetic, indie rock music will begin at 7pm.  Tickets are $10.

Mad Nomad performs melodic, high powered, heavy rock music that has been described as “informed by…the Replacements, Built to Spill, Dinosaur Jr. and unabashedly guitar-centric.” (Robert Bell, Arkansas Times) The band’s style has also been classified as “a cohesive mix of hard rock, punk, scream metal, ’90s pop rock and even twinges of ’80s metal, all held together with an accessible and undeniable sense of melody.” (Sean Clancy, Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) Based in Little Rock and founded in September 2012, Mad Nomad won the 2014 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.

Ghost Bones plays post-punk, alternative dance rock music that may be described as urgent, angular, and inspired by art school sensibilities. It is a young and experimental band that strives to create an original sound that appeals to a mass audience. At a time when the alternative rock scene is dominated by male bands, Ghost Bones has drawn attention as a female-fronted band. Based in Hot Springs and founded in September 2014, Ghost Bones won the 2015 Arkansas Times Musicians Showcase.