Weatherford Celebrities that Bring a Smile

Weatherford, Texas has been home to a handful of famous folks, and the two natives whose memories immediately bring a smile to my face are Mary Martin and Larry Hagman. Since the heat has been causing the corners of my mouth to droop in sympathy with my rose bushes, I decided it was time to wander over to the city’s Doss Heritage and Cultural Center, home of the Mary Martin and Larry Hagman Gallery.

Mary Martin may not be a household name anymore – or, perhaps she is. Certainly, when I say she was the original Peter Pan in the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, most people will envision her standing hands on hips aboard Captain Hook’s Jolly Roger, or on her iconic flight on invisible wire declaring “I’m Flying” in song. A beautifully restored 1960 NBC presentation is available on YouTube. She was a darling of Rodgers and Hammerstein, also playing the original Nellie Forbush in South Pacific and Maria in The Sound of Music.

Her son, Larry Hagman, was an icon in his own right – the infamous J.R. Ewing of Dallas fame. For over a decade Dallas permeated the culture in a way a television series just can’t anymore. My bitterly early bedtime was a firm 8pm through middle school, but I somehow managed to watch the episode that answered the question “Who shot J.R.?” I vaguely remember a sleepover event. This was, after all, the question on everyone’s mind for most of eighth grade, and important stuff. The opening credit theme echoes in my mind to this day, the sound of Friday night babysitting jobs through high school. Of course, vintage television fans also know Hagman as Major Anthony Nelson from I Dream of Genie.

The Doss Heritage Center was cheerfully staffed and I spent a long time inspecting the stagecoach on display at the entrance. It is a reproduction, but built by a local artisan with attention to every historical detail. There is an actual covered wagon in the main gallery. There is also a presentation about a Weatherford College archeology project at a local log cabin site, information about a local mammoth skeleton find, a brief history of Native Americans of the area, and memorabilia from the families of cattle legends Charles Goodnight, Oliver Loving and Bose Ikard. In the next gallery, the Peach Festival Art Show winners were picking up their works and preparations were underway for installing the Weatherford Art Association Member Show.

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The Mary Martin and Larry Hagman gallery rounds out the exhibits. Some of Martin’s dresses are on display. There are video and audio presentations and examples of her very impressive embroidery – an element of her life she and her family were clearly proud of as an extension of her creative life. There is a display of some of Hagman’s memorabilia, including a pair of boots from his Dallas years, photos of him performing in regional theater as a youngster and a photo of him in his NASA costume from his I Dream of Genie days.

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Of course, even a short wandering in Texas needs a photograph of a few statues to be complete, so I stopped to snap a picture of Larry Hagman’s slightly-larger-than-life likeness outside of the Doss and a statue of Mary Martin as Peter Pan outside of the local library on my way home. The entire experience brought a smile to my face and gave me the resilience to water my roses.

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Happy wanderings, all.

greta ode
Greta Ode is currently enjoying “tiny house” living in Weatherford, Texas. She has been published in Flash Fiction Magazine and is an editor and contributor to Tandeta Journal. Her work can be found on Substack at “Ramble, Bramble.”

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