Entries - Time Period: Modern Era (1968 - the Present) - Starting with T

Tabor, Ronald Dale

Since he was a child, Ronald Dale Tabor has been capturing the rustic scenery and the wildlife of the Ozarks on canvas. For most of his adult years, he painted without the use of his limbs. Tabor is a quadriplegic mouth-artist who taught himself to paint using his mouth after sustaining an injury in a near fatal car accident. He is one of the few Arkansans to gain membership in the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists of the United States (MFPA) and the International Mouth and Foot Painting Artists (IMFPA) based in Liechtenstein, Switzerland. Tabor is known for his realistic paintings of barns, wildlife, and the scenic outdoors of rural Arkansas. Dale Tabor was born in Harrison (Boone County) on …

Talbot, John Michael

John Michael Talbot—the founder and leader of the Brothers and Sisters of Charity at the Little Portion Hermitage near Eureka Springs (Carroll County)—is one of the preeminent Catholic musicians in the world, with more than fifty albums to his name. He is also the founder of the Catholic Association of Musicians and the author of more than a dozen books on Christian meditations and music. John Michael Talbot was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on May 8, 1954, to Jamie Margaret (Cochran) Talbot and Richard Talbot. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when Talbot was seven years old and then to Indianapolis, Indiana, two years later. Struggling to make friends in Indianapolis, the family started playing music as …

Tales from the South

Tales from the South was a nationally recognized radio show. During its first year in 2005, shows were recorded in the studio of public radio station KUAR (FM 89.1) in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 2005, Paula Martin Morell and her business partner and husband at the time, Jason Morell, opened the Starving Artist Café in the Argenta Arts District of North Little Rock (Pulaski County) and later began recording shows there. The café closed in 2014, and the show began recording at various venues in Little Rock and North Little Rock, as well as around Arkansas as part of a touring arts program, before ceasing production in 2016. On Tales from the South, amateur and professional writers read their own …

Tate, John “Big John”

During the mid-1970s and early 1980s, John “Big John” Tate gained notoriety as a successful amateur and professional boxer. As a member of the U.S. Olympic team at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada, Tate won a bronze medal in the heavyweight division. In 1979, Tate defeated Gerrie Coetzee to claim the World Boxing Association (WBA) heavyweight title. The WBA is an internationally recognized professional boxing organization. John Tate was born in West Memphis (Crittenden County) on January 29, 1955. The second of Bonnie Archer’s seven children, Tate did not know his father (Lavon Tate) and grew up in poverty. Tate struggled academically and left school in the seventh grade. Illiterate and unskilled, he toiled in a variety of …

Tate, Sonja Patrice

Sonja Patrice Tate, who played basketball at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County) from 1989 to 1993, is one of the finest female athletes in the state’s history. As of 2014, she remains the scoring leader in basketball at ASU, with 2,312 points. In addition, Tate holds the single-season scoring record, with 820 points during the 1992–93 season. She has the top five single-game scoring performances at ASU. Tate also is the only ASU women’s player to have scored forty or more points in a game, a feat she accomplished five times. She returned to ASU prior to the 2012–13 basketball season to serve as an assistant coach for the women’s team. Sonja Tate was born on September 7, …

Taylor, Jermain

aka: Lecester Jermain Taylor
Lecester Jermain “Bad Intentions” Taylor began boxing at the age of thirteen and has risen through the amateur and professional ranks to become one of the best boxers in the sport today. He won a bronze medal for boxing in the 2000 Olympics and became the undisputed middleweight champion in 2005, holding that title for two years and then regaining it in 2014, only to be stripped of it the following year. Jermain Taylor was born on August 11, 1978, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Taylor’s father abandoned the family when Taylor was five years old, leaving his mother, Carlois, with Taylor and his three younger sisters. Taylor’s mother had to work long hours to support the family, leaving him to …

Taylor, Johnnie Harrison

Johnnie Harrison Taylor was a popular gospel and rhythm and blues singer, known as the “Philosopher of Soul,” whose recording career spanned forty-six years. His single, “Disco Lady,” was the first single ever to be certified platinum. He was added to the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1999. Johnnie Taylor was born in Crawfordsville (Crittenden County) on May 5, 1934. The official date of his birth was not revealed until after his death; he had long claimed to be four years younger. The youngest of three siblings, he was raised by his grandmother in West Memphis (Crittenden County). She was religious and made sure he attended church regularly. He made his church singing debut at age six, and inspired …

Taylor, Marion

Marion Taylor Jr. was the first African-American officer in the Arkansas State Police, serving as a public service spokesman and an instructor at the state police academy. Marion Taylor Jr. was born on January 18, 1940, in Dermott (Chicot County) to Marion Taylor Sr. and Bessie White Taylor. His father supported the family with employment at Missouri Pacific Hospital and Our Lady of Nazareth Nursing Home, and the family attended St. Bartholomew Catholic Church in Little Rock (Pulaski County). A 1957 graduate of Horace Mann High School, Taylor earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock and an MS in education at what is now Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Taylor served …

TCBY Enterprises, Inc.

During a nineteen-year period, TCBY Enterprises, Inc. grew from a single store in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to a 3,000-outlet franchise. Selling flavored frozen yogurt, TCBY was known around the world. Until 2004, the tallest building in Arkansas was known as the TCBY Tower and bore those four letters on its upper floors. Frank Hickingbotham, an Arkansas native, opened his first frozen yogurt store in 1981 in Little Rock. Prior to this, Hickingbotham had been a junior high school principal, an insurance salesman, and the owner of several other food businesses, which he sold before founding TCBY. Hickingbotham had become acquainted with frozen yogurt a few years earlier on a visit to Dallas, Texas, when he sampled some at a …

Term Limits

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the American political scene was swept by a growing anti-incumbent fervor. Individually, incumbents at both the state and national level continued to win reelection in overwhelming numbers, but reformers sought to address the discontent by seeking legislation and constitutional amendments, usually through statewide referenda, that sought to impose strict term limits on office holders at both the state and congressional levels. Between 1990 and 1994, more than twenty states, including Arkansas, chose to impose limits on the length of time their representatives could serve in both the state legislature and in Congress. In a November 1992 referendum, the Arkansas electorate approved a measure that became Amendment 73 to the state constitution, which imposed …

Terry, Clark

Trumpeter and flugelhornist Clark Terry inspired audiences in a jazz career that spanned more than seventy years and included work with some of the biggest names in American music. Terry was one of the most recorded musicians in the history of jazz and performed for eight U.S. presidents and served as a jazz ambassador for State Department tours in the Middle East and Africa. Terry moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) in 2006 and was active in musical activities associated with the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), along with mentoring music students from around the world. He died in 2015 at the age of ninety-four. Clark Terry Jr. was born on December 14, 1920, to Clark Terry Sr. …

That Bookstore in Blytheville

In the early 1970s, Mary Gay Shipley, then a schoolteacher, saw a void in her hometown and opened a paperback exchange store affiliated with a Memphis, Tennessee, group called The Book Rack. Ultimately, she found a space in a former jewelry store in downtown Blytheville (Mississippi County). The bookstore has remained at 316 W. Main Street since 1976. Though locals called it “that bookstore” for years, the store did not become officially known as That Bookstore in Blytheville until 1994. The store’s varied selections of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s literature occupy over 2,400 square feet. That Bookstore in Blytheville specialized in Southern writers and books on Southern culture, with emphasis on the work of Arkansas writers. A champion of literacy, …

Thea Foundation

Paul and Linda Leopoulos founded the Thea Foundation in 2001, six months after their seventeen-year-old daughter Thea Kay Leopoulos died in a car accident. The nonprofit foundation’s mission is based on the idea that young people achieve confidence and personal success due to involvement with the arts. The Leopouloses found this to be true of their daughter, and they wanted other young people to benefit from the arts as Thea had. The Thea Foundation’s scholarship program awards Arkansas high school seniors based on their hard work and artistic talents. The twenty-eight scholarships in the categories of visual and performing arts, short film, creative writing, and poetry slam are not based on test scores or GPAs, nor do the students have …

Thebom, Blanche

Blanche Thebom was a world-renowned operatic soprano, opera director, and educator. With her trademark six-foot-long hair, she was among the first American opera singers to have a highly successful international career, spending more than twenty years with the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She also appeared in Hollywood feature films. Thebom conducted a groundbreaking tour of the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War. After retirement from the Met, she brought her talents to Arkansas when she taught and directed opera productions at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UA Little Rock) for almost a decade. The daughter of Swedish immigrants, Blanche Thebom was born in Monessen, Pennsylvania, on September 19, 1915. She was raised in Canton, …

This Scorched Earth

This Scorched Earth is a 2018 work of historical fiction by William Gear set in the Arkansas Ozarks during the Civil War. While the Civil War has been fertile ground for historical fiction, novelists have rarely ventured west of the Mississippi River to the often-ignored Trans-Mississippi Theater. This Scorched Earth is an exception. Gear avoids the stereotypical image of Arkansas Ozarkers as benighted hillbillies. The story centers around the experiences of the Hancock family—mother, father, three sons, and one daughter—who live in the highlands of northwestern Arkansas not far from Elkhorn Tavern. The eldest son is a doctor, a recent graduate of medical school in Boston, Massachusetts. The middle son spent time as a student in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he …

Thomas, John Orval

John Orval Thomas was a teacher, mentor, and role model for many television and film industry professionals in Arkansas. He worked as a sound engineer on major motion pictures, produced political campaign commercials, and had a variety of jobs in the television industry. Orval Thomas Jr. was born in Slocomb (Saline County) on November 25, 1919, to John Quincy Thomas Sr., who was a traveling preacher, and Eliza Eldridge Thomas. When Thomas was four, his parents started taking him on various “speaking engagements” of the revival circuit, where they would play one-reel silent movies in between his father’s sermons. When he was fourteen, Thomas took a job at a photography studio, the Deluxe Studio in Hot Springs (Garland County). There, …

Thomason, Harry Z.

Harry Z. Thomason is a film and television producer best known for the television series Designing Women and for his friendship with Bill Clinton. Thomason made the casting of people of Southern heritage more popular, replacing the ignorant hillbilly type with a more wry, witty, sophisticated Southerner. Thomason was born in 1940 in Hampton (Calhoun County). After moving to Little Rock (Pulaski County), he became a high-school speech teacher and football coach. Beginning with Encounter with the Unknown (1973), he wrote, produced, and/or directed the movies The Great Lester Boggs (1974), So Sad about Gloria (1975), The Day It Came to Earth (1979), and Revenge of Bigfoot (1979). He then moved to television, where he produced the television movies A Shining Season …

Thompson, Roosevelt Levander

Roosevelt Levander Thompson was a very accomplished Arkansan who achieved many things during his short lifetime and is recognized as one of the most gifted people to have attended Yale University. Roosevelt Thompson was born on January 28, 1962, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to the Reverend C. R. Thompson and Dorothy L. Thompson. He attended Little Rock Central High School and participated in many of Central’s activities. During his freshman year, he decided he wanted to pursue a career in public service. By his junior year, his teachers were already talking to him about becoming a Rhodes Scholar. He was involved in school plays, the school newspaper, and various academic groups, and he was named the All-Star player on …

Thorncrown Chapel

Thorncrown Chapel, designed by architect E. Fay Jones, is the most celebrated piece of architecture built in Arkansas. It won five design awards and was named by American Institute of Architects (AIA) as the fourth–best building of the twentieth century. Its uniqueness was recognized almost immediately. Within a year of its July 10, 1980, opening in Eureka Springs (Carroll County), it had been featured in many major architecture journals worldwide and had received an AIA Honor Award for design; in December of 2005, it received the 2006 AIA Twenty-five year Award for architectural design that has stood the test of time for twenty-five years. The chapel draws more than 100,000 visitors a year, and more than four million people have …

Thornton, Billy Bob

Billy Bob Thornton is an actor, director, screenwriter, and musician who began his film career in the late 1980s and has since starred in a number of popular and critically acclaimed films. He received an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Sling Blade (1996). Billy Bob Thornton was born on August 4, 1955, in Hot Springs (Garland County), the oldest son of high school basketball coach Billy Ray Thornton and Virginia Faulkner, a psychic. At seven months of age, he set the Clark County record for heaviest infant, at thirty pounds. He has two younger brothers, Jimmy Don and John David. Residing with over a dozen relatives in a shack with no electricity or plumbing, the Thorntons subsisted on …

Thornton, Raymond Hoyt (Ray), Jr.

Law professor Raymond (Ray) Hoyt Thornton Jr. was an Arkansas entrepreneur, lawyer, attorney general, U.S. representative, university president, and Arkansas Supreme Court justice. Thornton also played a key role in fashioning the articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon concerning the Watergate cover-up. Ray Thornton was born on July 16, 1928, in Conway (Faulkner County), one of two children of Raymond Thornton Sr. of Sheridan (Grant County) and Wilma Elizabeth Stephens of Prattsville (Grant County). His parents attended Arkansas State Teachers College (now the University of Central Arkansas) and eventually returned to Sheridan to live; Thornton’s father served as superintendent of schools for Grant County, and his mother taught at Sheridan. Thornton graduated from high school in 1945 at age …

Timberfest

Timberfest is held the first weekend of October every year on the courthouse square in Sheridan (Grant County). Timberfest celebrates Sheridan and Grant County’s long involvement with the timber industry and is sponsored by the Grant County Chamber of Commerce. The idea for Timberfest began in 1982 when the Grant County Chamber of Commerce board of directors decided to combine the Blue Mountain Bluegrass Festival and the Merchants Fair into one festival. The first Timberfest was held in 1984 on the courthouse square in Sheridan. Since then, it has grown into a very large event. Around 1995, a lumberjack competition was added to the Timberfest activities. The funds raised by Timberfest are used for scholarships that are awarded to Grant …

Times-N-Traditions Festival

In the 1930s, Newark (Independence County) hosted Old Home Week, said to have been one of the state’s largest summer festivals. After several years, it was replaced by a three-day annual picnic known as the Old Settlers Reunion, which had ceased by the late twentieth century. In 1995, local business leaders initiated plans to develop a new festival, the Times-N-Traditions Festival (TNT). The festival, which is sponsored by the Newark Area Chamber of Commerce, began in 1995 as a Friday and Saturday event. While the previous festivals were held in downtown Newark, the TNT is held at the Newark City Park. Low attendance and competition with local Friday-night high school football resulted in a Saturday-only event. However, in 2014, a …

Tinkle Pot

The Tinkle Pot is a novelty musical toilet created by Searcy (White County) drug store owner Frank Headlee, who also served as mayor of Searcy from 1951 to 1956. Essentially, it is a modified plastic commode for a child that plays music when the seat and lid are put down; when closed, the seat compresses a pin and lever that activate a music box inside the Tinkle Pot. In order to play, the music box must first be wound by hand. The Tinkle Pot itself weighs between one and two pounds, and it also features a handle on the back of the toilet for easy carrying. Headlee had the idea to manufacture the Tinkle Pot for sale in his drug …

Titan II Missile Explosion (1980)

The Titan II Launch Complex 374-7 in Southside (Van Buren County), just north of Damascus (Van Buren and Faulkner counties), became the site of the most highly publicized disaster in the history of the Titan II missile program when its missile exploded within the launch duct on September 19, 1980. An Air Force airman was killed, and the complex was destroyed. The Titan II Missile Launch Complex 374-7 Site was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on February 18, 2000. Complex 374-7 had already been the site of one significant accident on January 27, 1978, when an oxidizer leak sent a cloud of toxic fumes 3,000 feet long, 300 feet wide, and 100 feet high drifting across U.S. Highway …

Titan II Missiles

Following the Soviet Union’s detonation of its first thermonuclear bomb in 1953, the United States began actively developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The Titan II Missile program was a Cold War weapons system featuring fifty-four launch complexes in three states. Eighteen were in Arkansas, from which intercontinental ballistic missiles carrying nine-megaton nuclear warheads could be launched to strike targets as far as 5,500 miles away. Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) systems were part of a three-pronged nuclear weapon strategy that included manned bombers, land-based ICBMs, and sea-launched ballistic missiles. The ICBMs needed only thirty to thirty-five minutes to reach their targets, making them capable of first strikes on enemy territory. Their powerful warheads were designed to destroy enemy capabilities with …

Toad Suck Daze

Toad Suck Daze is an annual spring festival in Conway (Faulkner County) that features arts and crafts vendors, live music, a variety of foods, and toad races for children. It is held on the streets of downtown Conway, where more than 150,000 people attend the three-day event. No admission is charged, and proceeds of the festival support Faulkner County residents attending colleges located in the county. While the festival is now one of the largest and most unique in Arkansas, it began as an idea John Ward had in 1982. Ward—managing editor of the Log Cabin Democrat, Conway’s local newspaper—wanted to raise the spirits of local residents experiencing the hard times of a recession and high interest rates. He thought …

Tobacco Settlement Proceeds Act of 2000

After the establishment of the Master Settlement Agreement of 1998 between several major U.S. tobacco companies and four state governments (Texas, Florida, Minnesota, and Mississippi), the remaining forty-six states, the District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories not party to the original legal action were allowed to join into benefits conferred by the agreement. The tobacco companies were mandated to pay damages approaching the sum of $10 billion over an indefinite time period to the states joining the agreement, as well as acknowledge publicly that tobacco companies targeted youth in marketing and sales of products. In addition, the companies were subjected to sponsorship, marketing, and sales restrictions on their product. The State of Arkansas, agreeing not to file further litigation …

Tomkievicz, Shirley Jean Abbott

aka: Shirley Abbott
Shirley Jean Abbott Tomkievicz, a magazine editor and writer, achieved her greatest fame for her three volumes of memoirs, which detail the story of her family history and her own coming of age in Hot Springs (Garland County): Womenfolks: Growing Up Down South (1983), The Bookmaker’s Daughter: A Memory Unbound (1991), and Love’s Apprentice: The Education of a Modern Woman (1998), all written under the name Shirley Abbott. Critics  lauded her books as well-written examinations, not only of her own life, but of the South in an age of transition. Even after becoming a resident of New York, Abbott continues to write about Arkansas for a wide audience in magazines and newspapers. She once commented, “I learned to respect and …

Tompkins, Rosie Lee

aka: Effie Mae Martin Howard
Rosie Lee Tompkins was the assumed name of Effie Mae Howard, a widely acclaimed African-American quiltmaker whose prodigious talents catapulted her to the forefront of contemporary art. As New York Times critic Roberta Smith put it, “Tompkins’s textile art [works]…demolish the category.” Effie Mae Martin (Effie Mae Howard was her married name) was born in Arkansas on September 6, 1936, to Sadie Bell and MacCurey Martin. The oldest of fifteen half-siblings, she grew up picking cotton and helping her mother piece quilts in rural Gould (Lincoln County), where poverty forced the family to use every available scrap of cloth. Howard never completed high school. She moved to Richmond, California, in 1958 and took courses in nursing at various local institutions, …

Top of the Rock Chorus

The Top of the Rock Chorus is the Little Rock (Pulaski County) chapter of Sweet Adelines International, the female barbershop singing group. The chorus was formed on February 7, 1961, and two original members sang with Top of the Rock until 2005. The group was originally called Little Rock Chorus and was renamed Top of the Rock Chorus in the 1980s. It is composed of about sixty women—ages twenties to eighties—who rehearse weekly and compete annually against other female choruses and quartets in Region 25 (Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas), the Heart of America Region. Sweet Adelines International was formed on July 13, 1945, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A few women wanted to participate in the “chord-ringing, fun-filled harmony” that their husbands—members of …

Tornado Outbreak of March 1, 1997

The tornado outbreak of March 1, 1997, was one of the deadliest in the history of the state of Arkansas. Sixteen tornadoes tracked across the state, killing twenty-five Arkansans. Several of the tornadoes had unusually long tracks, traveling between fifty and seventy-five miles. There was also a higher than statistically expected number of tornadoes of F3 strength or higher—that is, tornadoes with wind speeds in excess of 158 miles per hour. Of the sixteen tornadoes, four were responsible for all fatalities in the state, as well as much of the property damage. All sixteen tornadoes were produced by four supercell thunderstorms, with the four killer tornadoes being spawned from two such storms that formed ahead of a cold front. The …

Towbin, Eugene Jonas

Eugene Jonas Towbin moved to Arkansas in 1955 to work at the Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital. He was a pioneer in the field of geriatric medicine, and his influence brought the first Geriatric Research Education and Clinical Center (GRECC) in the country to Arkansas. He was instrumental in obtaining funding for the John L. McClellan Memorial Veterans Hospital in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and was one of the founders of the geriatrics program at what is now the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). He also supported cultural events and organizations in the Little Rock area. Eugene Towbin was born in New York City on September 18, 1918, to Russian Jewish immigrants Morris and Elena Towbin. He attended public …

Town That Dreaded Sundown, The

The Town That Dreaded Sundown is a 1976 horror film by producer/director Charles B. Pierce. Based very loosely on true incidents that took place just after World War II around Texarkana (Miller County), it was one of the first movies in the “slasher” genre. The film starred 1971 Academy Award winner Ben Johnson along with television stars Andrew Prine and Dawn Wells. The movie, considered a cult classic, made a huge profit over production costs. It was remade in 2014. To form the basis of his fifth film, Pierce chose what were called the “Texarkana Moonlight Murders,” which took place throughout 1946 primarily in Texarkana, Texas, though he represents them as occurring on the Arkansas side of the city. A …

Trail of Tears National Historic Trail

In 1987, Congress created the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail (TOTNHT): “a trail consisting of water routes and overland routes traveled by the Cherokee Nation during its removal from ancestral lands in the East to Oklahoma during 1838 and 1839.” The Arkansas portion of this trail originally consisted of two routes of fifty-nine and 337 miles, respfectively, but was expanded in 2009. The TOTNHT is overseen by the National Park Service (NPS), aided by other concerned groups such as the Cherokee Nation and the Trail of Tears Association, the latter headquartered in Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1987, the TOTNHT consisted of roughly 2,200 miles but only two paths: a land or northern route (826 miles) and a water …

Trammell, Bobby Lee

Bobby Lee Trammell was known as a boisterous performer of boogie-woogie-flavored rockabilly music with such songs as “Arkansas Twist” and “You Mostest Girl.” He was later elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives and the Craighead County Quorum Court. Trammell’s high-energy music has been compared to that of fellow Arkansan Sonny Burgess, while his onstage antics drew comparisons to Jerry Lee Lewis. Bobby Lee Trammell was born on January 31, 1934, in Hergett, a small unincorporated community in Craighead County near Jonesboro. He was one of four children born to Wiley and Mae Trammell, who were cotton farmers. His parents were also musicians, with his father playing fiddle and his mother playing the church organ. Trammell was exposed to gospel …

Tribou, George

Father George William Tribou was an influential figure in Catholic educational and community affairs in Arkansas, primarily through his position as principal and rector of Catholic High School for Boys in Little Rock (Pulaski County). George Tribou was born in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, on April 14, 1924, to George and Mary Tribou. His father was an electrician, and his mother was a waitress; he had two sisters. After high school, he entered seminary in Philadelphia and completed the equivalent of a college curriculum. Area seminaries in the Northeast were rather crowded, so he relocated to St. John Catholic Seminary in Little Rock to complete his education for the priesthood. He was ordained as a Catholic priest on September 1, 1949. His …

Trice, Will Carl

Will Carl Trice is an accomplished theater producer who has received multiple Tony Awards for his various productions, among other accolades. He began serving as the executive artistic director of the Arkansas Repertory Theatre (the Rep) in 2019. William Carl Trice was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on January 31, 1979, to William Trice and Judy Trice. He grew up in Little Rock, where he graduated from Central High School in 1997. Trice’s father was a family lawyer and his mother a theater teacher at Hall High School; both performed in the Arkansas Bar Association’s Gridiron Show, a satirical musical production that pokes fun at prominent figures in politics, business, and law. Trice’s sister, Kathryn Pryor, is a lawyer …

Trieschmann, John Werner, IV

John Werner Trieschmann IV is a playwright and professor living in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Trieschmann’s many plays have been staged by Moving Arts in Los Angeles, California; Ensemble Studio Theatre in New York; the New Theatre in Boston, Massachusetts; Red Octopus Productions in Little Rock; and other companies, as well as by countless middle schools and high schools in the United States and abroad. First-prize winner of the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans New Play Competition, Trieschmann was also the first playwright to have been honored with the prestigious Porter Prize in Arkansas (1994). Werner Trieschmann was born on September 9, 1964, in Hot Springs (Garland County), the oldest of four boys. His father, John Trieschmann, was a …

Trimble, Vance

Vance Henry Trimble is a prolific award-winning journalist, biographer, and newspaperman from Harrison (Boone County). In 1960, Trimble won the Pulitzer Prize for national coverage, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for distinguished Washington coverage, and the Raymond Clapper Award for that year’s best reporting. Vance Trimble was born in Harrison on July 6, 1913. His father, Guy L. Trimble, was a lawyer, and his mother, Josie Trimble, was a poet and writer. By 1920, anti-union violence and mob rule, culminating in what has been called the Harrison Railroad Riot, forced Guy Trimble to resign as mayor and move his family to Okemah, Oklahoma, where Vance Trimble grew up. Trimble’s mother directed plays at Okemah’s Crystal Theater, and when Trimble was …

Triple Execution of 1994

On the night of August 3, 1994, three inmates of the Arkansas Department of Correction were put to death at the Cummins Unit for their participation in the same crime. Convicted of a murder and robbery committed in Rogers (Benton County) on January 8, 1981, the three men were executed at one-hour intervals. On the night of January 8, 1981, the home of Donald Lehman and his family was the scene of a home invasion. Four masked men rang the doorbell and burst into the home. At least two were armed with handguns, and a third carried a chain. Lehman was thrown into his bedroom and repeatedly shot and struck with the chain, killing him. Lehman’s wife and daughter were …

Triple Execution of 1997

A triple execution took place at the Cummins Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction on January 8, 1997. The first two inmates to be executed, Paul Ruiz and Earl Van Denton, were convicted of murders perpetrated during a post-escape crime spree. Ruiz and Van Denton escaped together from an Oklahoma prison on June 23, 1977. Van Denton was serving a life sentence for murder, while Ruiz was serving life for armed robbery. The pair moved across Oklahoma and into Arkansas, committing a number of crimes. On June 29, near the town of Magazine (Logan County), the men kidnapped town marshal Marvin Ritchie and handcuffed him in the back seat of his patrol car. Driving the patrol car, the two …

Trout Fishing in America

Trout Fishing in America (TFIA), based in northwestern Arkansas, is a musical performance duo consisting of Keith Grimwood, who plays bass and sings, and Ezra Idlet, who sings and plays acoustic guitar and banjo. The name of the duo comes from the seminal 1960s experimental novella by Richard Brautigan. Trout Fishing in America has been nominated for four Grammys and has released more than twenty albums. Grimwood has been a bass player since the age of eleven. He earned a degree in music from the University of Houston and performed with the Houston Symphony. Idlet, a guitarist since the age of fourteen, performed as a strolling musician at a Houston dinner theater. The two met as members of the Houston-based …

True Grit

“Here is what happened.” With those simple words, Mattie Ross of Dardanelle (Yell County) begins her reminiscence of the time she avenged her father’s murder with the help of a one-eyed deputy marshal and a dandy Texas Ranger. Set in western Arkansas and the Indian Territory of the 1870s, the novel True Grit, written by Arkansan Charles Portis, mixes this unlikely trio of personalities in a bestselling Western adventure. Published in 1968, True Grit was adapted into a movie and released the following year. The movie garnered veteran actor John Wayne the first and only Oscar of his career for his portrayal of Deputy Marshal Rooster Cogburn. In 2010, a second film adaptation of the novel, written and directed by …

Tuck, Annabelle Davis Clinton Imber

Annabelle Davis Clinton Imber Tuck was the first woman elected justice of the Arkansas Supreme Court and, as a trial judge, wrote the original order that reshaped the financing of public education in the state. While a chancery judge in Pulaski County in 1994, she issued an order declaring the state’s system of funding and operating its public schools unconstitutional and gave the Arkansas General Assembly two years to produce schools that guaranteed every child the same opportunity for a good education, as the state constitution required. Ten years later, the case, Lake View School District No. 25 v. Huckabee, resulted in sweeping reforms, including school consolidation and changes in tax structures, that the Supreme Court declared had finally complied with …

Tucker Telephone

The “Tucker Telephone” was a torture device invented in Arkansas and regularly used at the Tucker State Prison Farm (now the Tucker Unit of the Arkansas Department of Correction) in Jefferson County. It was likely used on inmates until the 1970s. The Tucker Telephone consisted of an old-fashioned crank telephone wired in sequence with two batteries. Electrodes coming from it were attached to a prisoner’s big toe and genitals. The electrical components of the phone were modified so that cranking the telephone sent an electric shock through the prisoner’s body. The device was reputedly constructed in the 1960s by, depending upon the source, a former trusty in the prison, a prison superintendent, or an inmate doctor; it was administered as …

Tucker Unit

aka: Tucker Prison Farm
Tucker Unit, often referred to simply as Tucker or Tucker prison farm, is a 4,500-acre maximum security prison and working farm located in Tucker (Jefferson County), roughly twenty-five miles northeast of Pine Bluff (Jefferson County). It is one of thirteen prison units in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Tucker Unit is not to be confused with the Maximum Security Unit, which was built in 1983 and is also located in Tucker. Tucker is the second-oldest prison in Arkansas (Cummins Unit is the oldest). Tucker was accredited by the American Correctional Association in 1983, but for many years, the prison had a tarnished reputation and was at the center of the prison scandals of the 1960s and subsequent reform efforts of …

Tucker, Betty Jeane Allen

Betty Jeanne Allen Tucker is the wife of Jim Guy Tucker (the forty-third governor of Arkansas) and was the state’s thirty-eighth first lady. Outside of politics, she is best known for her work with the Arkansas Arts Center and Arkansas Children’s Hospital in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Betty Jeanne Allen was born on February 28, 1943, in Jackson, Mississippi, to Emmett Allen and Gertrude Allen; she was raised in Brookhaven, Mississippi. Her father served during World War II as an aviator and later practiced law in Brookhaven. During the war, Allan lived with her mother’s parents, who owned a farm and had a lucrative cotton-trading business. She married Lance Alworth in 1958 and came to Arkansas after Alworth signed on …

Tucker, Jim Guy, Jr.

aka: James Guy Tucker Jr.
James Guy Tucker, the forty-third governor of Arkansas, had a brief gubernatorial career that abruptly ended due to criminal conviction. His administration carried Arkansas from the end of the Bill Clinton administration, during which Tucker essentially acted as governor the last year because of Clinton’s campaigning for president, to the beginning of the Mike Huckabee gubernatorial administration, which remained in power long enough to be stopped only by term limits. In his personal life, Tucker weathered political challenges, survived health problems, and faced a criminal indictment. Jim Guy Tucker was born on June 13, 1943, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to James Guy and Willie Maude (White) Tucker. His family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was a child, …

Turner Bell, Debbye

aka: Debrah Lynn Turner
Debrah Lynn (Debbye) Turner Bell, who grew up in Jonesboro (Craighead County), was crowned Miss America 1990. After her reign as Miss America, she became a veterinarian, has appeared on national television, and is a motivational speaker on youth-related and Christian topics. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 1994. “Debbye” Turner was born on September 19, 1965, in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Gussie Turner and Frederick Turner Jr., who was stationed there in the military. As a child, she set her goal to become a veterinarian but recognized the financial challenges ahead, especially after her parents’ divorce. Living in Jonesboro with her sister, Suzette, and her mother, who became an academic counselor at Arkansas State University …