50 Years ago – World Premiere of TRUE GRIT takes place in Little Rock at Cinema 150

Glen Campbell speaks with Larry McAdams of KATV at the opening of TRUE GRIT.

On June 12, 1969, the world premiere of the film TRUE GRIT took place at the Cinema 150.

Actor/singer (and Arkansas native) Glen Campbell was in attendance at the event, but another Arkansan connected to the movie – author Charles Portis, did not attend.

Portis’ objection was that the film was being used as a fundraiser for the Democratic Party of Arkansas, and he was a supporter of Governor Winthrop Rockefeller, a Republican. Portis described himself as a Rockefeller Democrat.  The next night, in Hot Springs, Portis hosted what was billed as the “Author’s Premiere.”

While Portis may have been absent (and there is no way that GOP stalwart John Wayne would have considered coming to the premiere), the Cinema 150 was sold-out.  Press accounts noted that attendees ranged from Senator J. William Fulbright and Rep. Bill Alexander to former office holders Orval Faubus and Bruce Bennett (who presumably took a break that evening from trying to prove who was the more ardent segregationist).

Quite a few in attendance also had their eye on 1970’s Democratic primaries including Attorney General Joe Purcell and Secretary of State Kelly Bryant.  No mention was made in the media if Charleston, Arkansas, attorney Dale Bumpers was in attendance.

The film was cheered by those in attendance, although some did comment about the presence of snow-capped mountains in the film that was set in Arkansas and Oklahoma. But that was a minor quibble. (The film was shot in Colorado.)

Following the premiere, the party continued under a big circus tent, set up that evening in the parking lot of the shopping center at the southwest corner of Asher and University (now the home to Murry’s Dinner Playhouse).

The Pryor Center for Arkansas Studies has compiled a video clip from the opening.  It can be viewed here.

A Capitol Christmas in Arkansas

When the Culture Vulture was just a Baby Vulture, he, his parents and sister would go to the State Capitol building to look at the decorations on Christmas night.  Over the years, the Office of Secretary of State has changed the decorations.  He remembers the alternating red and green lights on the dome during the Bryant (Kelly and Winston) era. He also remembers the disco dome during Bill McCuen’s tenure. Thankfully during the Priest, Daniels and now Martin era, the building is outlined in white lights.

The nativity scene has also changed in location and materials having once been plaster or plastic and at the top of the stairs in front of the brass doors, later moving to several different places on the grounds. It is now had carved wood.  The interior decorations have changed over the years as well. 

Whatever the decorations may be, it is wonderful to see families of various sizes from all corners of the state come to their state capitol building to experience the wonders of the season.