November 25, 1919
Orval Thomas, who was a teacher, mentor, and role model for most of the television and film industry professionals in Arkansas during much of the twentieth century, was born in Slocum (Saline County). At fourteen, he took a job in Hot Springs (Garland County) with a photography studio editing 15mm movies, such as of birthday parties and weddings, for wealthy people. He worked with all three network television studios in Little Rock, as well as with motion picture producers and well-known actors. He served in India during military service and traveled with Winthrop Rockefeller on campaign trips for governor. In the 1980s, he became an instructor in the Department of Film, Radio and Television at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He was also the first projectionist at the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival at its inception in 1992. Thomas died in 2012.