August 1, 2019
Today let’s just mess around with some Oklahoma trivia that is gathering dust in my “On the Bricks” folder.
Oklahoma is home to several exceptional athletes over the years. Mickey Mantle is a baseball player from Spavinaw, who hit his 500th home run on May 14, 1967, for the New York Yankees. That day he became the sixth player in baseball to hit 500 home runs or more.
Baseball catcher Johnny Bench, Binger, is also well – known; as is Time Magazine’s Athlete of the Century, Jim Thorpe from Prague; Dallas Cowboy Quarterback Troy Aikman, Henryetta; baseballer Dizzy Dean, Holdenville; and footballer Darrell Royal of Hollis.
Gymnast Shannon Miller moved to Edmond, Oklahoma, at six months of age. She is the most decorated U.S. gymnast, male or female, at the Olympic Games, with a total of 7 medals; she has 16 World Championships and Olympic medals between 1991 and 1996; is the second most decorated gymnast, male or female, in U.S. history; and the tenth most decorated gymnast from any country by her individual medal count.
Bertha Frank Teague was a basketball coach and the first woman inducted into the National Basketball Hall of Fame.
Oklahoma also has some well-known people in the arts. Ralph Waldo Ellison is an author from Oklahoma City best known for his novel Invisible Man, winner of the National Book Award in 1953.
Author Tony Hillerman is from Sacred Heart; Pultizer Prize winning poet John Berryman, Anadarko and McAlester; S.E. Hinton, author from Tulsa; columnist Argus Hamilton, Ardmore; and Louis L’Amour, Oklahoma City.
Maria Tallchief was an Osage dancer considered America’s first major prima ballerina. Born in Fairfax, Okla., she studied in Los Angeles, moved to New York City, spent five years with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo where she met choreographer George Balanchine who later co-founded what became the New York City Ballet in 1946, where this Oklahoma ballerina became its first star. She was the first American to perform in Moscow’s Bolshoi Theater. Before retirement she served as director of ballet for the Lyric Opera of Chicago.
Brad Pitt is an American actor, born in 1963 in Shawnee, who had a leading role in A River Runs Through It, Legends of the Fall, Seven, Fight, Ocean’s Eleven, Ocean’s Twelve, and Ocean’s Thirteen, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and many more movies. He had as wives both Jennifer Aniston and Angelina Jolie.
This year Quentin Tarantino delivers an Oklahoma one – two punch with his newest film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, starring Pitt and featuring Oklahoma City native James Marsden as part of a sprawling ensemble cast exploring the film industry of the late 1960s.
Some other notable actors are James Garner, Norman; Ron Howard, Duncan; Ben Johnson, Pawhuska; Tony Randall, Tulsa; Gene Autry, Gene Autry and Sapulpa; Gary Busey, Tulsa; Kristin Chenowith, Broken Arrow; Joan Crawford, Lawton; Chuck Norris, Wilson and Ryan; and Donna Reed, Tulsa;.
TV host Phillip McGraw, “Dr. Phil” is from Oklahoma City. Broadcast journalist Walter Cronkite also came from Oklahoma City.
Paul Harvey was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was an American radio broadcaster known for his famous The Rest of the Story segments. From the 1950s through the 1990s, his programs reached as many as 24 million people a week.
The most famous radio personality in the history of the United States was Will Rogers of Oolagah and Claremore.
Woody Guthrie is a famous Oklahoma folk singer and song writer born in 1912 in Okemah. His best-known song is This Land is Your Land. He wrote many songs about his experiences in the Dust Bowl and was nicknamed the Dust Bowl Troubadour.
A few other singers include Garth Brooks, Tulsa; Vince Gill, Norman; Reba McEntire, McAlester; Roy Clark, Tulsa; Charlie Christian, Oklahoma City; David Gates (Bread) from Tulsa; Leon Russell, also from Tulsa; and Blake Shelton, Ada.
Cartoonist Chester Gould was from Pawnee. He drew the Dick Tracy comic from 1931 to 1977.
Air and space travel includes some famous Okies. Astronaut Thomas Stafford was born in Weatherford, Oklahoma, and flew on the Gemini 6, Gemini 9, Apollo 10, and Apollo-Soyuz missions. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and is known for the “Handshake in Space” with Russian cosmonaut Alexei Lenov.
Other Oklahoma astronauts are Gordon Cooper, Shawnee and Tecumseh; Owen Garriott, Enid; Shannon Lucid, Bethany; and John Herrington.
Aviation pioneers Paul and Thomas Braniff were from Oklahoma City.
Outlaw Pretty Boy Floyd is from Akins and Sallisaw; and Outlaw Belle Starr is from Eufaula.
Financier J. Paul Getty is from Tulsa.
The two largest airports in Oklahoma are named after two famous Oklahomans who were both killed in airplane crashes. Will Rogers Airport in OKC and Wiley Post Airport in Tulsa.
Carl McGee of Oklahoma City and Tulsa invented the parking meter.
Bill Pickett of Ponca City is considered the inventor of bull dogging.
Oklahoma has a rich history full of notable people and places.
See you on the bricks!