Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame

The Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) was created to honor Arkansans who have made outstanding contributions to the entertainment industry. Honorees include performers, non-performing contributors (such as writers, directors, and producers), and pioneers in the entertainment industry.

In 1985, the Arkansas General Assembly authorized the establishment of a museum honoring Arkansans who have made a considerable contribution to the entertainment industry. The first inductees were honored in 1996. The following year, the state legislature transferred the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame to the Department of Parks and Tourism, along with $300,000. Several cities competed to host the museum. Pine Bluff was eventually chosen, with the Pine Bluff Convention and Visitors Bureau receiving $250,000 to establish the Hall of Fame. On October 2, 1998, the Hall of Fame opened with a permanent home in the Pine Bluff Convention Center. In 2017, the state legislature transferred oversight of the Hall of Fame to the City of Pine Bluff.

The board of the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame selects honorees for induction, with nominations coming from the artists themselves or from other individuals. After a review of applications to determine if the nominee meets the basic criteria of Arkansas connection and national significance, among other factors, the nominations are held until the board’s annual meeting, at which time they are voted upon.

A life-size animatronic statue of Johnny Cash greets visitors with some of the most popular songs of his career. Many other well-known Arkansas entertainers, both performing and non-performing, who have been inducted into the Hall of Fame have contributed artifacts to the exhibits that represent their achievements. For example, the museum houses Bob Burns’s “bazooka” as well as the musical instruments and clothing of other performers.

Among the inductees into the Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame are radio personalities Chet Lauck and Norris Goff (“Lum and Abner”); musical talents Al Green, the Browns, Patsy Montana, Levon Helm, “Lefty” Frizzell, and Jimmy Driftwood; singer/songwriter and television and motion picture actor Ed Bruce; composer William Grant Still; orchestra conductor Sarah Caldwell; jazz pianist Walter Norris; opera singer Barbara Hendricks; Broadway and motion picture performer William Warfield; gospel songwriter Albert E. Brumley; movie actors “Broncho Billy” Anderson, Julie Adams, Mary Steenburgen, Billy Bob Thornton, Dick Powell, and Alan Ladd; entertainment promoter Jim Porter; author John Grisham; screenwriter James Bridges; motion picture sound and camera lens inventor Freeman Owens; television producer and director Harry Z. Thomason; Broadway producer Elizabeth Williams; and Broadway musical performer Lawrence Hamilton.

Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame Inductees

1996 Glen Campbell Billstown/Delight
Johnny Cash Kingsland
Jimmy Driftwood Timbo
Randy Goodrum Hot Springs
Al Green Forrest City
Wayland Holyfield Mallet Town
Alan Ladd Hot Springs
Tracy Lawrence Foreman
Lum and Abner
(Chet Lauck and Norris Goff)
Mena
Art Porter Sr. Little Rock
Patsy Montana Beaudry
Dick Powell Mountain View
Charlie Rich Colt
Mary Steenburgen Newport
Harry Thomason Hampton
Billy Bob Thornton Hot Springs
1998 Bob Burns Greenwood
The Browns Sparkman
Melvin Endsley Drasco
Jim Ed Brown Sparkman/Pine Bluff
Levon Helm Turkey Scratch
Bonnie Brown Sparkman/Pine Bluff
Floyd Cramer Huttig
Maxine Brown Sampti, LA/Pine Bluff
Louis Jordan Brinkley
Mark Wright Fayetteville
Jerry Van Dyke Benton
Conway Twitty Helena
2000 Julie Adams Little Rock
K. T. Oslin Crossett
James (Jim) Bridges Paris
Sarah Caldwell Fayetteville
Skeets McDonald Rector
Art Porter Jr. Little Rock
Broncho Billy Anderson Pine Bluff
Pharoah Sanders Little Rock
William Warfield Helena
Twila Paris Springdale
2002/2003 Ronnie Dunn El Dorado
Barbara Hendricks Stephens
John Grisham Jonesboro
William Grant Still Little Rock
Steve Stephens Newport
Freeman H. Owens Pine Bluff
Walter Norris Little Rock
2005 Collin Raye De Queen
John Michael Talbot Little Rock/Eureka Springs
Ed Bruce Keiser
Elizabeth Williams Arkadelphia
Jim Porter Little Rock
Lefty Frizzell El Dorado
Lawrence Hamilton Foreman
John Weston Brinkley/Smale
Albert Brumley Hartford Music Institute
2007 Beth Brickell Camden
Gil Gerard Little Rock
Laurence Luckinbill Fort Smith
Gail Davis McGehee
BJ Sams Little Rock
Jack Mitchell Bella Vista
Sonny Burgess Newport
Sarah Tackett Conway
2008 Tess Harper Mammoth Springs
Ronnie Hawkins Huntsville/Fayetteville
Wayne Jackson West Memphis
Joe Nichols Rogers
Wilburn Brothers Hardy
Sonny Boy Williamson Helena
Ed Wilson Rison
2010 Kris Allen Conway
Lisa Blount Fayetteville
Jim “Moose” Brown Jonesboro
Barbara Fairchild Knobel
Albert King Forrest City
George Newbern Little Rock
Mark Salling McCrory
Jerry McKinnis Flippin
Charles B. Pierce Hampton
2013 Gary Weir North Little Rock
Bill Carter Rector
Louie Shelton North Little Rock
Rosetta Nubin Tharpe Cotton Plant
Michael Utley Blytheville
2015 Charlaine Harris Magnolia
Buddy Jewell Lepanto/Osceola
Francis McBeth Arkadelphia
Cate Brothers Fayetteville
Al Bell Brinkley/North Little Rock

For additional information:
Cofer, Brian. “Hall of Fame for Entertainers Opens Friday.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, September 27, 1998, pp. 1B, 8B.

Pine Bluff Convention and Visitors Bureau. http://www.pinebluffcvb.org/ (accessed August 3, 2018).

Slivka, Judd. “Pine Bluff Panel’s Pick to House Hall of State Stars.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 18, 1997, pp. 1B, 8B.

Bob Purvis
Pine Bluff, Arkansas

Staff of the CALS Encyclopedia of Arkansas

Last Updated: 08/07/2018