Media

Entries - Entry Category: Media - Starting with S

Saline County News-Pacesetter

Between 1955 and the mid-1970s, an independent weekly newspaper (first called the Saline County News, then—after consolidation with the Saline County Pacesetter—the News-Pacesetter) existed in direct opposition to the Benton Courier in Saline County. Veteran newspaperman Harold Johnson and his wife, newspaperwoman Elsie Cabe Johnson, left the Benton Courier to start their own paper, the Saline County News, in June 1955. It lasted until 1972, when Whitney Jones, son of Dr. Curtis Jones, purchased it from the Johnsons. Continuing as the Saline County News-Pacesetter, the paper lasted until the mid-1970s, when it too was sold. In addition to covering local news and sports, it helped launch the careers of many Arkansas writers and photographers. The first newspaper to carry the …

Saline Courier

aka: Benton Courier
The Saline Courier (formerly known as the Benton Courier) is the largest and oldest newspaper in Saline County. The paper began its life as the Saline County Digest, established by Vermont native W. A. Webber in 1876, as the official mouthpiece of Saline County Democrats, although it later lost that affiliation. The Digest was published weekly in a seven-column folio with an average circulation of 1,000. In November 1882, the Digest changed hands for the first time. It was purchased by B. B. Beavers, who renamed it the Saline County Review; in November 1883, Colonel Samuel Houston Whitthorne bought Beavers’s interest in the paper and renamed it the Saline Courier. Whitthorne was the father-in-law of prominent Benton doctor Dr. Dewell …

Sammon, Winona

aka: Peggy Shannon
Winona Sammon was a stage and cinema actress in the 1920s through early 1940, using the stage name Peggy Shannon. There were high hopes for her career early on, but as it progressed, her roles became smaller and less prestigious. Winona Sammon was born on January 10, 1907, to Edward and Nannie Sammon in the upstairs living quarters over her father’s store on Barraque Street in downtown Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). She had a younger sister. In late 1923, she traveled to New York City with her mother to visit an aunt, who lived in the same building as Florenz Ziegfeld’s secretary, “Goldie” Glough. Sammon was invited for some publicity pictures with Ziegfeld, who, with famed choreographer Ned Wrayburn, chose …

Saunders, Michael Earl (Mike)

aka: "Metal Mike"
Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Michael Earl Saunders is the lead singer and guitarist of the Angry Samoans, a California-based band that formed in 1978 out of the first wave of American punk music. Saunders, a music journalist in earlier years, was also the first to use the term “heavy metal” to describe the musical genre. Mike Saunders (a.k.a. Metal Mike) was born on May 1, 1952, to Earl L. Saunders Jr., who was an architectural photographer, and Jean Cox Saunders, who was an office manager for Burns Security in Little Rock. He has one younger sibling. Saunders attended Hall High School in Little Rock, where he played trombone in the marching band. His first album review was published in …

Schexnayder, Charlotte Tillar

Journalist and state politician Charlotte Tillar Schexnayder co-owned the Dumas Clarion newspaper in Dumas (Desha County) with her husband for more than four decades and served in the Arkansas House of Representatives for fourteen years. She was the first woman appointed to the Arkansas Board of Pardons and Parole, and she was the first female president of the Dumas Chamber of Commerce. She was also president of several associations for professional journalists, including the Arkansas Press Women, the Arkansas Press Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the National Newspaper Association. Charlotte Tillar was born on December 25, 1923, in Tillar (Drew and Desha counties) to Jewell Stephen Tillar and Bertha Terry Tillar. The family moved to McGehee (Desha County) in …

Schoonover, Wear Kibler

Wear Kibler Schoonover won many academic and athletic awards while attending the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). While he was part of the All-American football team, he went to Hollywood to play a part in the film Maybe It’s Love. Schoonover later served in the U.S. Navy and worked for the government in the Legal Services Department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Wear Schoonover was born on March 18, 1910, in Pocahontas (Randolph County) to attorney Eugene Gardiner Schoonover and Estelle Waddle Schoonover; he had two siblings who died in infancy and one brother. Schoonover graduated from Pocahontas High School and attended UA, accomplishing much in both academics and sports. Schoonover was the first UA athlete …

Sellers, Barney

Professional photographer Barney Sellers, a native of Walnut Ridge (Lawrence County), accumulated many honors in his lifetime, including a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize in 1973. His photographs of Arkansas barns, old houses, and rural scenes attracted many fans of his work and aspiring followers to northeastern Arkansas and the Ozarks. Born on March 28, 1926, to John and Edith Sellers, Barney Bryan Sellers was the younger of two sons. He grew up in Walnut Ridge, where he graduated from high school in 1944. Following high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy, where he served two years aboard the USS De Haven. In the navy, he served in an administrative capacity and advanced to the rank of yeoman third …

Sentinel-Record

Hot Springs (Garland County) has had a number of newspapers come and go throughout its history. Local residents but also visitors to the Spa City from around the country have made up the readership of Hot Springs’ papers over the years. Between 1873 and 1883 alone, fifteen Hot Springs newspapers began and ended operation. This fact led Robert W. Leigh, historian of the Arkansas Press Association, to state in 1883, “Hot Springs has been the birthplace and burial ground of many a newspaper.” The Sentinel-Record (often abbreviated as S-R), the only local newspaper circulated daily throughout the area, remains as the last survivor of a series of newspaper mergers in Hot Springs. The first record of a local newspaper in …

September 30, 1955

Following the success of the film The Paper Chase in 1973, writer and director James Bridges, who was born in Paris (Logan County), turned his attention to a more personal project. Bridges wrote a script based on his college experiences in Arkansas and convinced the studio to allow him to shoot the movie in his home state. September 30, 1955 is about a college student, played by Richard Thomas, who is devastated by the death of his idol, actor James Dean. At the time of Dean’s death, Bridges was a student at Arkansas State Teachers College, now the University of Central Arkansas (UCA), in Conway (Faulkner County). According to his college friend Tom Bonner, a former weatherman at KARK-TV in …

Shannon, Henry Karr

Dubbed “the sage of Lunenburg,” Henry Karr Shannon wrote a daily column, “Run of the News,” in the Arkansas Democrat from 1944 until 1971. Covering everything from politics to popular culture, “he developed the largest following of any columnist in Arkansas,” according to a 1973 comment by Robert S. McCord, then associate editor of the Democrat. Born on March 1, 1902, at Lunenburg (Izard County), Karr Shannon was the only child of farmers Robert Nathan and Allie Maud (Estes) Shannon. A bout with scarlet fever and measles at age three left Shannon with only thirty percent of normal hearing. When he was five, his mother died of tuberculosis, and his father moved to New Mexico, where he, too, died of …

Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre

Sharkansas Women’s Prison Massacre (2016) is a television movie, distributed by SyFy, that is set in Arkansas, though it was filmed in Florida. It capitalizes on the popularity of sharks as villains in such productions as Jaws and its sequels (1975–1987), Shark Week documentaries on the Discovery Channel (1988–), and the zany Sharknado films on the SyFy (formerly SciFi) Channel (2013–). Director Jim Wynorski is a prolific veteran of both SyFy fodder (such as 2010’s Dinocroc vs. Supergator) and mild exploitation movies (Sexy Wives Sindrome, 2011), and Sharkansas combines the conventions of both cinematic types. The SyFy Channel’s original films are parodies of old creature features, but they use cheap computer-generated-image (CGI) special effects rather than the more professional effects …

She Couldn’t Say No

aka: Beautiful But Dangerous [Movie]
She Couldn’t Say No (1954), directed by Lloyd Bacon, is a small-town romantic comedy made by RKO Pictures in California and set in fictitious Progress, Arkansas. The story of why this little-regarded film was made and how it came to feature two major stars, Robert Mitchum and Jean Simmons, is more dramatic than anything in the movie. In the early 1950s, tycoon Howard Hughes (not yet a recluse) controlled RKO and was obsessed with Simmons, a young British film star. He bought her contract, brought her to Hollywood, and made sexual demands, despite her marriage to another star, Stewart Granger. When Simmons rebuffed him, Hughes retaliated by assigning her to a series of films so poor he expected they would destroy …

Shead, Henry Wallace, Sr.

aka: Henry Shed
Henry Wallace Shead Sr. (a.k.a. Henry Shed) was a pianist, vocalist, composer, recording artist, actor, choral director, and teacher. He grew up playing and singing in his father’s church, and by the time he had finished college, he had developed the singing and piano-playing styles for which he became famous. He was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2006 and the Arkansas Jazz Hall of Fame in 2018. Henry Wallace Shead was born in Fordyce (Dallas County) on March 31, 1941, the third of five children born to the Reverend Henry Arthur Shead and Willie Labehel Reed Shead. He was raised in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and was introduced to the piano at the age of six …

Shelter

Shelter (1998) is a modestly budgeted action thriller made in Little Rock (Pulaski County) by director Scott Paulin. The film features no significant Arkansas landmarks. The movie centers upon hero Martin Roberts (John Allen Nelson), an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) whose corrupt superior Landis (Charles Durning) tries to have him killed. Martin flees and is protected by Dimitri (Peter Onorati), head of the Arkansas-based “Greek Mafia” that dominates illegal gunrunning throughout the American South from its headquarters in an Arkansas mansion. Landis joins forces with a rival gangster, Cantrell (Kurtwood Smith), to wipe out Dimitri’s gang. However, Martin gets into more trouble when he falls in love with Helena (Brenda Bakke and stand-in Monica …

Simple Life, The

The Simple Life is a reality television series broadcast on the Fox network depicting two wealthy young socialites, Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie, as they struggle with everyday tasks, including manual labor and low-paying jobs such as doing farm work, serving meals in fast-food restaurants, and working as camp counselors. The first season of The Simple Life (2003–2004) was set in Altus (Franklin County), a small town in the Ozark Mountains known for its vineyards. Fox executives wanted to return to the heyday of the sitcom, when such low-concept shows as Green Acres originally aired. The idea for the show involved doing Green Acres as a reality show. Hilton was chosen because of her popularity with young people. Richie was …

Sling Blade

Filmed entirely in Benton (Saline County) by Arkansas native Billy Bob Thornton, Sling Blade was one of the most critically acclaimed movies of 1996 and earned Thornton—who wrote, directed, and starred in the movie—an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay as well as a nomination for Best Actor. Sling Blade opens on the day that Karl Childers (Thornton), a developmentally challenged man, is released from an asylum for the criminally insane, twenty-five years after murdering his mother and her lover with a sling blade—a scythe-like tool that Karl prefers to call a kaiser blade. Karl demonstrates a talent for fixing small engines and is able to find work as a repairman in his hometown of Millsburg. One day at a …

Smith, Alfred Edgar

Alfred Edgar Smith was active in the battle for equal rights for African Americans as an author, government worker, educator, journalist, and club leader. Alfred Smith was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on December 2, 1903. His parents were Jesse Rufus Smith, born a slave in Roanoke, Virginia, and Mamie Johnson Smith. Both worked at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs. Later, the couple began to work at the Crystal Bathhouse, a spa for African Americans. Jesse became manager and Mamie the bookkeeper. Smith worked his way through Langston High School as a night bellhop for the Eastman and Arlington Hotels and as an exercise boy at Oaklawn Park Racetrack (now Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort). He was a member …

Smith, P. Allen

P. Allen Smith is an award-winning designer, a nationally known gardening/lifestyle expert, and the host of two public television programs, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home and P. Allen Smith’s Garden to Table, as well as the syndicated show P. Allen Smith Gardens. He appears frequently as a guest on such programs as the CBS Early Show and the Today show on NBC, and on the Weather Channel, sharing design and gardening tips with viewers. He is a contributor for a number of national publications such as Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Southern Accents, Southern Living, and Woman’s Day, and is the author of several bestselling books. Paul Allen Smith Jr., the oldest of four children, was born on March 12, 1960, …

Smithee, James Newton

James Newton Smithee, the founder of the Arkansas Democrat, was a prominent figure in the history of Arkansas journalism. Smithee was also an important Democrat during the years after Reconstruction and an advocate of the silver movement in Arkansas. J. N. Smithee was born in 1842 in what would become Sharp County into a poor Scottish-Irish farming family; his parents were Samuel Harris Smithee and Edna Elizabeth (Woodrow) Smithee. His formal education consisted of three months in a country school. When he was twelve years old, he became an apprentice to the Des Arc Citizen, where he learned the printing trade. When Smithee was eighteen, he bought into the Prairie County Democrat and used it to support the Southern Democratic …

So Sad about Gloria

aka: Visions of Doom
aka: Visions of Evil
So Sad about Gloria is a ninety-minute horror/thriller movie that was filmed in central Arkansas and released in October 1975. Rated “PG” for Parental Guidance, it was directed by Arkansan Harry Thomason for Centronics International, a production company based in Little Rock (Pulaski County). So Sad about Gloria was also re-released under the titles Visions of Doom and Visions of Evil. The plot, credited to Marshall Riggan, centers around a young woman who moves back to the family home after being released from a mental hospital. She soon experiences frightening visions concerning a series of ax murders. There is an element of romance after she meets young writer Chris Kenner, who is lounging in a tree. His rationale: “I sit …

Soldier’s Story, A

A Soldier’s Story is a 1984 dramatic movie filmed entirely in Arkansas at four locations: Clarendon (Monroe County), Fort Chaffee, Fort Smith (Sebastian County), and the Lamar Porter Athletic Field in Little Rock (Pulaski County). After being turned down by several studios, it was produced on an extremely low budget and went on to win numerous awards, earning more than four times what it cost to produce. At a critical point in the filming when there was very little money to pay extras, Governor Bill Clinton helped the production by approving use of Arkansas Army National Guard personnel in full military dress for an essential scene. The movie starred a number of distinguished actors including Denzel Washington, Howard E. Rollins …

Sorensen, John Hjaelmhof

John Hjaelmhof Sorensen was a cartoonist, artist, and advertising executive. A native of Denmark, he lived in Arkansas from 1950 to his death in 1969. He published cartoons in a wide array of magazines, from Playboy to the Saturday Evening Post, achieving wide acclaim for his work. John Sorensen was born on November 22, 1924, in Copenhagen, Denmark, the son of Paul Sorensen and Elly Hjelmhof Sorensen. His parents divorced when he was three, and he was then raised by his maternal grandmother. During the World War II occupation of Copenhagen, he was in the Danish underground, working as a courier since his job as an accountant for hotels and restaurants involved travel. After the war, he came to the …

Sorrells, John Harvey

John Harvey Sorrells was executive editor of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain and former deputy director of the U.S. Office of Censorship during World War II. At the time of his death, the Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) native was well respected in journalism circles for his first-hand knowledge of the field and his warm, engaging personality. John Harvey Sorrells was born on March 31, 1896, in a one-story house on State Street in Pine Bluff, one of four children of Walter Bartlett Sorrells, who was a circuit judge, and Mary Iva Fletcher Sorrells. In 1886, his maternal grandfather, Reid Fletcher, launched and edited the Daily Graphic newspaper in Pine Bluff. As a high school student working part time, John Sorrells would …

Staggs, Monica

Monica Staggs is an actress best known for her work as a stunt double in numerous films and television shows. Monica Ann Staggs was born on February 24, 1970, in Boulder, Colorado, to Nova Staggs and Thomas Staggs. She has one sister. Staggs spent most of her youth in North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and graduated from Sylvan Hills High School in 1988. She then did work in the drama and English departments at both the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, as well as attending the University of Central Arkansas in Conway (Faulkner County) for a time. Without completing a degree, in 1996, she took a job as a stand-in …

Starr, John Robert

John Robert Starr was a reporter, columnist, author, and educator who served as the managing editor of the Arkansas Democrat (and later the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) from 1978 to 1992. He is most known for his role in the newspaper war between the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette. John Starr was born on December 29, 1927, in Lake Village (Chicot County), the oldest of three children of John Phillip Starr and Thelma Russell Starr. The family lived in various locations in southeastern Arkansas, northern Louisiana, and Mississippi during Starr’s childhood. After Starr’s father died in 1932, Starr’s mother moved with the children to Lake Village and the family then moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) when Starr was in the fourth …

Steenburgen, Mary Nell

Mary Nell Steenburgen is one of Arkansas’s most celebrated actors. Noted for roles in cinema, television, and stage, she has portrayed a wide range of characters, from the president’s mother, Hannah Nixon, in Nixon (1995) to schoolteacher Clara Clayton in Back to the Future III (1990) and seductress Betty Carver in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993). She has won many awards, including an Academy Award for her portrayal of Lynda Dummar in Melvin and Howard (1980). Mary Steenburgen was born on February 8, 1953, in Newport (Jackson County) to Maurice Steenburgen, a freight train conductor, and Nellie Mae Wall Steenburgen, a school secretary. Her family—including a younger sister, Nancy Lynn—moved to North Little Rock (Pulaski County) when she was three …

Stephens, Steve

aka: Stephen Owen Stephens
Stephen Owen Stephens is a well-known television and communications pioneer, most famous for Steve’s Show, a popular television program in the 1960s. He remained a communications specialist well into his retirement. Steve Stephens was born on April 22, 1930, as Rufus James Stephens to Owen and Allie Mae Stephens, owners of a restaurant service station in Newport (Jackson County). Later his parents opened a furniture store in the same town, which they successfully operated for more than twenty years. Stephens attended Castle Heights Military Academy and later graduated from Newport High School in 1948. Following graduation, he attended the University of Arkansas until the fall of 1950 when, “looking for adventure,” he joined the U.S. Marine Corps. Attaining the rank …

Stickney, Phyllis Yvonne

Phyllis Yvonne Stickney is an actress, comedian, poet, playwright, producer, and motivational speaker best known for her television and film roles in the late 1980s and 1990s. Noted in the twenty-fifth anniversary issue of Essence magazine as one of 200 African-American women who have changed the world, she was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1998. Phyllis Stickney was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Belle and Felix Stickney Jr. She has publicly been vague about her age, and no available sources offer the year of her birth. Her father was an executive with the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA), and the family moved frequently. She has two siblings, one of whom, Timothy, is also an …

Stouffer, Marty

Martin Luther Stouffer Jr. is a documentary filmmaker best known for his Wild America PBS television series involving endangered wildlife. Whereas many previous wildlife documentarians focused on filming in exotic locales in other countries, Stouffer primarily filmed in American locations in order to raise awareness of the plight of these animals. Marty Stouffer was born on September 5, 1948, near Fort Smith (Sebastian County) and grew up there with his parents, Martin Sr. and Agnes, two brothers, and a sister. Stouffer Sr. owned Arkansas Rebuilders Supply, which supplied auto parts for rebuilders. According to Stouffer, his parents encouraged him to explore the natural world; the woods and wild areas near his home awoke a love of nature in him, and …

Street, James Howell

James Howell Street was a newspaperman and novelist who worked at the Arkansas Gazette in the 1920s and later wrote essays celebrating the state and the newspaper. James Street was born on October 15, 1903, in Lumberton, Mississippi, to John Camillus Street and William Thompson Scott Street (her actual name). Although his family was Catholic, he converted and became a Baptist minister after marrying Lucy Nash O’Briant, the daughter of a Baptist preacher, in 1923. After three children were born, he gave up preaching and became a newspaper reporter, first at the Pensacola Journal in Florida and then in 1926 at the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was twenty-three when he went to work for the Gazette …

Sullivan, Orean Lencola

Orean Lencola Sullivan of Morrilton (Conway County) broke many color barriers in Arkansas and became a nationally known public figure. She won four scholarship pageants from 1977 to 1980 and was the first African American to win those pageants. She was Miss Morrilton in 1977, Miss University of Central Arkansas in 1978, Miss White River in 1979, and Miss Arkansas in 1980. In September 1980, Sullivan competed in the Miss America Pageant and won the preliminary swimsuit competition. Overall, she was the fourth runner-up in the national pageant, the highest placement achieved by an African-American contestant up to that time. Lencola Sullivan was born on October 29, 1957, to Richard and Macie Sullivan of Morrilton. She was the oldest of …

Summer of My German Soldier

Bette Greene’s Summer of My German Soldier is a novel and a television movie set in eastern Arkansas during World War II. Both portray the Arkansas location, era, and characters realistically. Since the novel’s publication in 1973, it has remained a young-adult best-seller and is considered a classic of young-adult literature. In 1973, it was an American Library Association Notable Book, a National Book Award finalist, and one of The New York Times’s Outstanding Books of the Year; it also won the Golden Kite award. In 1979, the movie earned Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama and Outstanding Writing. Esther Rolle won the Outstanding Supporting Actress Emmy for her portrayal of Ruth. Rolle praised Greene for her skillful, true-to-life characterization of …

Sutton, Ozell

One of the most important Arkansas political activists at the height of the civil rights struggle during the 1950s and 1960s, Ozell Sutton was a key player at many of the movement’s most critical moments—both in the state and throughout the South. He was present at such watershed events as the 1957 Central High School desegregation crisis and the 1965 march at Selma, Alabama. In April 1968, Sutton was with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when King was murdered on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was also a trailblazer in Arkansas race relations, becoming the first black newspaper reporter to work for a white-owned newspaper when he went to work in 1950 as a staff …