W. Lee "Pappy" O'DanielHe gave people what they wanted. And that was HOPE.
He was a star, a brilliant showman, a colorful character, a celebrity who electrified major crowds of tens of thousands of people, who was bigger than life, who against all odds won a political race as a populist, who was hated by the politicians and by the press but loved by the People.
He was a salesman from a flour mill who in the 1930’s recognized the power of a newly born media and became one of the most popular Radio Broadcasters, who knew what people needed and in the middle of depression gave people a joy of music, sense of happiness and hope. He used the music, his band, and the radio as a vehicle for his product advertisement, but it became a vehicle that made Western Swing a rock-n-roll of those days and carried him all the way to Washington politics and his band members like Bob Wills to the Music Hall of Fame.
When in 1938 he announced that he would run for a Governor of Texas he became a joke for politicians, but 6 weeks later he won the race, beat 12 competitors, and moved to the Governor’s mansion. 60 thousand people attended his inauguration.
He was my grandfather - Wilbert Lee O’Daniel, Pappy O’Daniel.
Working Titles: Beautiful Texas, About Pappy (W. Lee O’Daniel), His American Dream, Please Pass the Biscuits Pappy. Narrated by Molly O’Daniel.
This story introduces W. Lee O’Daniel as a young ambitious unknown man arriving to Texas from New Orleans with his family in about 1930.
It follows his dramatic journey of becoming a radio showman and a celebrity that brings him to a position of being the most popular and powerful man in Texas.
The culmination point of this story will be his 6 weeks race for the Governor of Texas in 1938 when he won in a landslide and seventy thousand Texans arrived to his inauguration.
There is a lot of publicity, articles, recordings, and radio stories about W. Lee O’Daniel. His character was partly depicted in the movie with George Clooney “Oh Brother, where art thou”. But Pappy’s story is a story on its own – it does not need to be fabricated. There was everything – love, hate, drama, money, greed, crime, politics, ambitions, and the best of American entertainment. He did not even like the hillbilly music but saw that people liked it and started writing songs that became super popular such as “Beautiful Texas”, “Put me in my pocket”, “My million dollar bill smile” and many others later recorded by Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Patsy Montana. With his first band, The Light Crust Doughboys, and later with his own band the Hillbilly Boys they would travel a hundred miles from town to town and get big crowds everywhere. However, the radio made them famous not just in Texas but all around southern border and across.
This story was a part of a historical transformation of the first radio generation. W. Lee O’Daniel is and will be one of the most colorful characters in the history of the Western Swing and the American political scene of the 1930’s.
This is a story of a marriage of entertainment and ambition, that changed people’s lives.
The quality of the music and of the history – is an Academy Award level.