Abilene Reporter News
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Famous from the Big Country

December 5, 2004


Ran Barker, Tarleton State University. Administrator of television, Warner Bros. Television (overseeing "Friends," "ER," "The Jamie Foxx Show," "The West Wing" and other shows. Also starred in numerous nationally seen commercials, director of independent films.

Randy Brewer, Abilene Christian University Class of 1993. Multiple-Dove Award nominee for Short Form Video of the Year (Dove Awards given by the Gospel Music Association). Won Dove Award for producing video for Nicole C. Mullen's "Call on Jesus."

James Brown, Desdemona, actor. "The Pride of St. Louis," TV's "Rin Tin Tin" and "Dallas."

Betty Buckley, Big Spring. Star of stage ("1776," "Cats," winning a Tony Award for her Broadway role), movie screen ("Tender Mercies"), TV screen (Abby on "Eight is Enough," recurring role on "Oz"), and song (concerts).

Nelson Coates, Abilene Christian University. Film production designer ("Kiss the Girls" and "Runaway Jury").

Julie Condra, Ballinger. Actress ("Santa Barbara," "Beautiful," "Nixon").

J.B. Cook, former Abilenian. Writer/co-producer of Fox sitcom "King of the Hill."

Bonnie Curtis, Abilene Christian University. Assistant to film director Steven Speilberg-turned film producer ("Minority Report," "AI: Artificial Intelligence," "Saving Private Ryan").

Shae D'Lyn, Abilene. Played Jane on "Dharma & Greg" 1997-2001.

Carol Hall, songwriter. Wrote music for Broadway hit, "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." (See also, music.)

Jane Hall, Abilene native, journalism professor/TV panelist. Regular panelist on Fox News Channel's "Fox News Watch," weekly critique of the mass media/news organizations.

David W. Harper, Abilene. Played Jim-Bob Walton on "The Waltons," also appeared in the film "Fletch" and several "Waltons" reunion TV movies.

Harry Hickox, Big Spring. Actor (TV's "Please Don't Eat the Daisies," film's "Speedway").

Tom Jones, Coleman native, songwriter/lyricist. Wrote lyrics to songs for the long-running off-Broadway smash "The Fantasticks" (featuring "Try to Remember"), and Broadway shows "110 in the Shade" and "I Do! I Do!" (see also, music)

Dakota Kelly, Sweetwater. Adult entertainer.

Luke Longacre, Abilene High School graduate. In the original cast of "The Frogs" on Broadway, 2004.

Brad Maule, Camp Springs native. Spent about two decades on ABC's "General Hospital," played recurring character on The WB's "7th Heaven."

Paige Moss, grew up in Abilene, onetime Cooper High School student. Co-starred on ABC sitcom "It's All Relative" (2003-04), played recurring/guest characters on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and "Beverly Hills 90210."

Dean Nolen, Hardin-Simmons University graduate. In the original cast of "Mamma Mia!" (2001) on Broadway. Won Drama Desk Award for role in off-Broadway play "Tabletop" (2000).

Dave O'Brien, aka David Barclay, Big Spring. Western film actor/director.

Ty O'Neal, onetime Wylie High School student. Rodeo cowboy, co-starred in "D2: The Mighty Ducks" and "D3: The Mighty Ducks," "American Outlaws," made-for-TV film "Tiger Cruise."

Fess Parker, Hardin-Simmons University. Played football at HSU before transferring to University of Texas. Starred in film "Them!," TV series "Daniel Boone" (1964-1970).

Jean Porter, Big Spring, Cisco. Actress in numerous films in 1940s-1950s.

Del Shores, Winters. Wrote screenplay "Daddy's Dyin ... Who's Got the Will?" Writes for Showtime TV series "Queer as Folk."

Madilyn, Sawyer and Sullivan Sweeten, born in Brownwood. Play the Barone (Ally, Geoffrey and Michael) children on CBS' sitcom "Everybody Loves Raymond."

Barry Tubb, Snyder native. Co-starred in "Top Gun" and "Lonesome Dove," wrote, directed and co-starred in "Grand Champion," which he shot in Snyder. Did Broadway play "Sweet Sue" with Mary Tyler Moore.

Ann Wedgeworth, Abilene. One season on "Three's Company," regular on "Filthy Rich" and recurring role on "Evening Shade." Numerous roles in films and made-for-TV movies. Acted in Broadway plays "Make a Million" and "Chapter Two."

Sarah Whitcomb, former KTAB-TV morning anchorwoman. Now gives "travel" clues on syndicated television game show, "Jeopardy."

William W. Wilson III, Cooper High School, film producer ("Ice Princess," "Joe Somebody," "The Santa Clause" films).


Kay Adams, Knox City. Had No. 30 country single with "Little Pink Mack" in 1966. Had a No. 16 country album with "A Devil Like Me Needs an Angel Like You" in 1966.

Brown Bannister, Abilene Christian University graduate, music producer in Nashville. Winner of numerous Dove Awards given by the Gospel Music Association for his work on contemporary Christian recordings by Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman and other artists.

Randy Brewer, Abilene Christian University. Dove Award-winning producer of music videos (mostly for contemporary Christian musicians), owner of Revolution Pictures.

Milton Brown, Stephenville. Western swing pioneer, led the Musical Brownies. Died in a car accident in 1936 at age 32.

Richard Burke, Abilene. International opera tenor. Returned home, now minister of music at St. Paul United Methodist Church.

Chris Christian, Abilene native. Contemporary Christian singer, had a No. 37 pop single in 1981 with "I Want You, I Need You."

Lyn Collins, Abilene native. Sang with the James Brown Revue in the 1970s.

Dash Crofts, Cisco, musician. Member of duo Seals & Crofts ("Summer Breeze," "Hummingbird"). (See Jim Seals.)

David Dickey, Sweetwater. Former bass player for soft rock group America ("Ventura Highway," "Sister Golden Hair," "Tin Man").

Craig Dillingham, Brownwood native. Became cast member of "The Louisiana Hayride" country music radio program in 1976. Recorded minor country hit, "Have You Ever Loved Your Woman Today."

Ronnie Dunn, Coleman native, Abilene Christian University. Half of country duo Brooks & Dunn ("Boot Scoot Boogie," "Red Dirt Road").

Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, lived a few years in Abilene as children. Hits include "All the Gold in California," "Houston."

Carol Hall, Abilene native, songwriter. Wrote music for Broadway hit, "Best Little Whorehouse in Texas." (See also, film/TV/theater.)

Tom Jones, Coleman native, songwriter/lyricist. Wrote lyrics to songs for the long-running off-Broadway smash "The Fantasticks" (featuring "Try to Remember"), and Broadway shows "110 in the Shade" and "I Do! I Do!" (see also, film/TV/theater)

Gary Morris, Cisco Junior College. Fort Worth native had country hits in the 1980s with "Wind Beneath My Wings" and "100 Percent Chance of Rain."

Hoyle Nix, Big Spring. Wrote Western swing standard "Big Balls in Cowtown."

Jody Nix, Big Spring. Son of Hoyle. Nominated for a Will Rogers Award, given by the Academy of Western Artists, in 2004.

Lee Roy Parnell, born in Abilene, lived near Stephenville as child. Recorded 1990s country hits "Love Without Mercy," "What Kind of Fool (Do You Think I Am)," "A Little Bit of You," "Heart's Desire." Brother Rob Roy Parnell is an Austin musician.

Paul & Paula, Howard Payne University. Recorded the Top 10 singles "Hey, Paula," and "Young Lovers" in 1963.

Jean Prescott, lives in Ovalo. Western singer, multiple Will Rogers Award winner (awards given by the Academy of Western Artists).

Jeannie C. Riley, Anson native. Sang country music hits "Harper Valley P.T.A.," "The Girl Most Likely," "Country Girl" and "Oh, Singer."

Jessica Simpson, Abilene. Lived here for very brief time, spent most of time growing up in Dallas area. Singer ("With You," "Take My Breath Away"), reality television star ("Newlyweds" on MTV).

Sonny Throckmorton, lives near Brownwood. Wrote country music hits "Thinking of a Rendezvous," "Knee Deep in Love with You," "Middle Age Crazy."

Grant Turner, Abilene native. Longtime voice/announcer of the Grand Ol' Opry. Member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Jim Seals, Sidney. Musician, member of duo Seals and Crofts ("Summer Breeze," "Hummingbird"). (See Dash Crofts.)

Gideon Waldrop, Abilene. Dean of the Julliard School of Music, also a composer.

Aaron Watson, Abilene Christian University graduate. Recording artist, with hits on the Best in Texas magazine chart including "I Don't Want You to Go (But I Need You to Leave)," "Off the Record," "When All Those Aggies Move to Austin."

Kathy Westmoreland, Abilene. Sang backup for Elvis Presley, late 1960s until 1977.

Slim Willet, Abilene broadcaster/songwriter. Wrote "Don't Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes," a big hit for Perry Como, Ray Price, Skeets McDonald.

Mason Williams, Abilene native. Composer/television writer, best-known for instrumental Grammy Award-winning hit "Classical Gas" and writing for "The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour."

Copyright 2005, Abilene Reporter News. All Rights Reserved.

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