WALK OF FAME
Each year during the Crossroads of Texas Film and Music Festival, additional stones are dedicated along the Waxahachie Walk of Fame in Downtown. Honorees are chosen by the festival’s programming committee from nominations that are received each year. Recipients must have ties to Waxahachie or Ellis County, and have made significant contributions to the Entertainment Industry, including film, television, radio, music, literature, visual arts, rodeo, or other cultural arts. To submit a nomination, please complete the nomination form and submittal instructions on the form. Listed below are the previous honorees.
Robert BENTON (2014)
Waxahachie native Robert Benton is a renowned writer and director known for BONNIE AND CLYDE, KRAMER VS. KRAMER, SUPERMAN, PLACES IN THE HEART, and more. After attending the University of Texas and Columbia University, Benton was the Art Director at Esquire Magazine in the early 1960s.
He has won numerous awards for writing and directing films. PLACES IN THE HEART, his love letter to his hometown, received two Academy Awards and seven nominations, including a win for Benton for Best Screenplay. He also received two more Oscar wins for Best Director and Best Screenplay for KRAMER VS. KRAMER.
Frederic forrest (2014)
Frederic Forrest grew up in Waxahachie, graduating from Waxahachie High School in 1956. After attending Texas Christian University, he moved to New York to study acting. After several years of performing in many Off-Broadway productions, he moved to Los Angeles intent on breaking into movies.
Forrest is known as one of the best character actors of all time, with many successful film and television credits including APOCALYPSE NOW, THE ROSE, VALLEY GIRL, FALLING DOWN, 21 JUMP STREET, and LONESOME DOVE, among many others.
L.T. FELTY (2015)
In saluting some of our favorite Texas and Waxahachie-made films, it’s only fitting that we tip our collective hats to the memory of one of our own, L.T. Felty.
Affectionately know as “T” to those who were lucky enough to have known him, Felty was for so many years an integral part of the Waxahachie community. He spent over 30 years serving Waxahachie ISD as a teacher, counselor, coach, athletic director, and principal. And he was just getting started.
Upon his retirement from Waxahachie ISD, Felty embarked on a new career. In a nutshell, he became Waxahachie’s strongest promoter. He worked tirelessly on behalf of educators across the state to effect educational measures pending before the Texas Legislature.
Perhaps his biggest promotional efforts were on the behalf of Waxahachie’s film industry. His efforts played a tremendous part in films choosing Waxahachie over the years. So much so, that it would be difficult to find anyone who has worked in the Texas film industry over the last 30 years that doesn’t remember L.T. Felty. It’s hard to say if the industry decision makers fell in love with Waxahachie, or with Felty’s personality, one thing is for certain: he helped put our town on the map, and on the big screen.
Whether you knew him as a Teacher, Coach, Principal, Actor, Promoter, Friend, Chili Adviser to the Governor, or the duck hunter in TRUE STORIES, we all remember him as Mr. Waxahachie.
So, here’s to you, T! We hope the Crossroads of Texas Film Festival makes you proud, and we promise to keep the movies alive in Waxahachie.
Horton Foote (2015)
For more than seventy years, beginning in 1939, when he penned his first play, Wharton Dance, Horton Foote was regarded as one of America’s most revered dramatists. With his probing and perceptive dramas, he succeeded in charting the landscape of small-town America while creating classics of modern theatre and film that have found devoted audiences around the world.
Foote wrote more than a hundred plays and screenplays for cinema, theatre, and television, and was equally successful in all three mediums—a record of variety and productivity unmatched by any other writer. Inspired by his hometown of Wharton, Texas, Foote wrote timeless tales of family, home, and the mysterious resilience of the human spirit that garnered him dozens of prestigious awards, including an Emmy for his adaptation of OLD MAN, Academy Awards for TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and TENDER MERCIES, a Pulitzer Prize for THE YOUNG MAN FROM ATLANTA, as well as a National Medal of Arts. Horton Foote was, in the words of Robert Duvall, the great American voice.
Two of the films celebrated with this year’s festival, TENDER MERCIES and THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL, are among the many films Foote made in Waxahachie and Ellis County.
Bob Phillips (2015)
For most of us, roads and highways are simply a means to a destination. But for more than 40 years, the back roads of Texas have been home and office for Texas Country Reporter Bob Phillips. He was born in Dallas, but spent much of his youth growing up on the family farm near Lake Texoma. It was there that Bob lived with and learned from the folks he calls the “salt of the earth.” His “Texas Country Reporter” television series is a celebration of the Texas way of life and a tribute to the “real” heroes of our time -- the everyday men and women who make our state such a special place.
“Texas Country Reporter” is also seen nationally on RFD-TV and in 22 Texas television markets. Rating services estimate that more than 2-million people see Bob’s program each week.
This year, the ever-popular Texas Country Reporter festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary. Held in Waxahachie each October, this festival brings tens of thousands annually to enjoy live music, food, artisans, and more.
Ronnie Dawson (2016)
Known as the “Waxahachie Wildman” and “The Blonde Bomber”, Ronnie Dawson was and is a true international rockabilly pioneer and legend. He was born in Dallas in 1939, and raised in Waxahachie.
His first group was called Ronnie Dee and the D-Men, with early hits including “Action Packed” and “Rockin’ Bones”. Many Waxahachie natives still fondly recall watching Ronnie perform on American Bandstand in those years.
His remarkable career spanned nearly five decades. In the 1980s, rockabilly music experienced a resurgence, and so did Ronnie’s career. He toured all over the United States and Europe, and continued to perform and record new material for his loyal fans. In 1998, Ronnie was inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame. In 2003, he passed away after a battle with throat cancer.
We are delighted to include Ronnie Dawson in the 2016 Waxahachie Walk of Fame Induction.
Ernest Tubb (2016)
Ernest Tubb was born the son of a sharecropper in Crisp, Texas in 1914. The Ellis County native spent his early years traveling across Texas working on farms with his family, but the music bug soon bit.
In 1939 while living in San Angelo, he wrote his first song, titled “Beautiful San Angelo”. In 1943, Tubb joined the Grand Old Opry and formed his band, The Texas Troubadours. His biggest hits included “Walking the Floor Over You”, Thanks A Lot”, “Waltz Across Texas”, and “Drivin’ Nails In My Coffin”.
Tubb was known as extremely friendly and loyal to his fans, as he continued to make many public appearances for years even as his health failed. After each performance, he would shake hands and sign autographs for each fan that wanted to stay.
It is our pleasure to include Ernest Tubb in the 2016 Waxahachie Walk of Fame Induction.
John Borders (2017)
From humble beginnings as an announcer at KBEC 1390 AM, the native of Waxahachie left his home town after high school to build his career in radio. John attended Baylor University on a basketball scholarship. He played basketball two years but found radio to be his passion at KBEC. He also worked on air and management in his radio gypsy days, working for top stations in Detroit, St. Louis, Pittsburgh and Dallas (KLIF). He later went into sales management and bought his first station in 1973. Many will remember his on-air show as “Johnny Dark” on KLIF.
A few of John’s accomplishments include: owned and operated 36 stations in Midwest and Southwest including two Dallas FM’s; served on board National Association of Broadcasters; 2001 inducted into Texas Radio Hall of Fame; and 2001 chosen Radio Ink Magazine’s “National Broadcaster of the Year.” With God’s help, John hired a great team and together they built the 25th largest radio company in the U.S. He sold the stations in 2000-2001.
In the heart of John Borders always burned a desire to rise to the top, to be the best radio broadcaster he could be, and above all to be a good Christian role model for his children and grandchildren.
Bill Ham (2017)
Waxahachie native Bill Ham was best known as the manager and producer of the world-famous rock band ZZ TOP, having helped create and define their sound since their beginning in Houston in 1969. But more than that, Bill Ham established his own style of music management, drawing elements from different areas of the entertainment industry to create a totally unique approach. In the process, Ham took on a near-legendary understated persona in a world known for flamboyance and flair, through a music industry career that spanned five decades that started as a recording artist for Dot Records with a single produced by Pat Boone.
In the past 50 years Bill Ham was not only an instrumental part of ZZ TOP’s historic success, but also helped build Hamstein Music into one of the most successful publishing companies in the world. He discovered and helped engineer the success of country singer Clint Black, who had been singing in Houston pizza parlors. In addition, Bill launched and nurtured the careers of many other important musical artists. Through it all, he stayed out of the limelight, preferring instead that all the attention be directed at his artists. Soft-spoken, but always forceful, the Texan was a powerful enigma in the modern music business, one he had helped create.
Denver Pyle (2017)
Denver Pyle made a career of mostly playing drawling, Western types and Southern gentlemen. This legendary actor enjoyed a very successful career that spanned several decades and included nearly 300 film and television credits.
Training with such renowned teachers as Maria Ouspenskaya and Michael Chekhov, he made his film debut in THE GUILT OF JANET AMES. Pyle went on to roles in hundreds of film and TV parts, bringing a touch of Western authenticity to many of his roles. He became a familiar face on episodes of “Gunsmoke” and “Bonanza” and also developed a close association with actor John Wayne, appearing in many of Wayne’s later films, including THE HORSE SOLDIERS, THE ALAMO, THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE and CAHILL U.S. MARSHAL. One of his most memorable roles was in BONNIE AND CLYDE as Texas Ranger Frank Hamer, the handcuffed hostage of the duo, who spits in Bonnie’s (Faye Dunaway) face after she coyly poses with him for a camera shot. He settled easily into endearing mountain men types in his later years and became a household face for his presence in “The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams” and, especially, his iconic role as Uncle Jesse in “The Dukes of Hazzard”.
Denver and his wife Tippi spent a great deal of time in Tippi’s native Ellis County in his later years. Denver and Tippi also worked tirelessly in Texas and beyond to raise money for various children’s charities. Denver passed away in 1997.
Big Jim Bynum (2018)
World Champion Steer Wrestler Jim Bynum was born in Danville, Alabama in 1924. When he was 4, his parents moved to a farm near Waxahachie. He graduated from Waxahachie High School in 1942.
He earned four world champion steer wrestling titles in 1954,1958, 1961 and 1963, a record that still stands today. He was inducted into the Ak-sar-ben Western Hall of Fame, the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, the National Rodeo Hall of Fame and the Rodeo Hall of Fame. His record time of 2.4 seconds set in Marietta, Oklahoma, in 1955 has been tied twice but has never been broken.
After a knee injury in 1969, Mr. Bynum was forced to retire from competition. But very much a cowboy’s cowboy, he continued participating in the sport through judging, teaching, and sharing his knowledge and experience.
Mr. Bynum accepted small parts in several movies,television shows and commercials. He endorsed Falstaff Brewery, Wrangler Jeans and Tony Lama Boots.
He was also the Mayor of Maypearl from 1988-1989. Mr. Bynum died of cancer at his Maypearl home in 1999 at the age of 74.
Dale Evans (2018)
Dale Evans spent her early years in Ellis County - the daughter of a farmer who also operated a hardware and general store in Italy, Texas. In the 1930s, she landed a job as a singer on WFAA’s Early Birds Radio Program. Several successful years in radio led to opportunities in film. In the early 1940s, she appeared in several films with her future husband, Roy Rogers.
Rogers and Evans became probably the most popular husband-and-wife team in American entertainment history. By 1951, when their television series The Roy Rogers Show began its seven-year run, they had appeared together in twenty-nine movies; their weekly radio show was a huge hit; and there were more than 2,000 Roy Rogers fan clubs around the world, including one in London with 50,000 members–the largest such club in the world.
Dale Evans also enjoyed considerable success as a songwriter. In addition to Rogers’s theme song, “Happy Trails,” she also composed such country and gospel music standards as “The Bible Tells Me So,” “My Heart Went That-a-Way,” “I Wish I Had Never Met Sunshine,” and “Aha, San Antone.”
Together she and Roy Rogers were the parents to nine children. She received many honors and awards, including being named to the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in 1995. Evans died in 2001 at the age of 88 in Apple Valley, California.
Mike O’Daniel (2018)
Mike O’Daniel began playing guitar at age 6 and performing at age 10. By the time he graduated from Waxahachie High School in 1963, he was a professional musician with The HighLifes. Mike joined his father, as a barber, at the O’Daniel Barber Shop and in 1974 he was elected district clerk of Ellis County serving 3 terms. In 1986, he joined KBEC for their new classic country format. Along with his co-anchor, Ken Roberts, they broadcast the Classic Country Coffee Cup Morning Show, the Flea Market, and became the official announcers for the Waxahachie Indians.
Although Mike received numerous accolades and awards for his work within radio and music, he was most proud of being a member of the Waxahachie community.
In the 1980’s, Mike came to the attention of actor Robert Duvall whom he taught to play guitar for TENDER MERCIES. Later, Mike was invited to the set of LONESOME DOVE, where he regularly played for the cast/crew. Mike went on to work in the film industry as a casting director.
Mike was inducted into the Light Crust Doughboys Hall of Fame, was named 2006 disc jockey of the year by the Cowtown Society of Western Music/Swing, elected as a singer/guitarist to The Texas Country Music Association Hall of Fame, and was named as Who’s Who of WHS in 2003.