Transcript of King Wallis Vidor

This is Texas Originals. From Humanities Texas, for the advancement of heritage, culture, and education.

Born in Galveston in 1894, King Wallis Vidor grew up with the movies. Over the course of his career, he directed both silent and sound films and worked with many of Hollywood's top stars, from Charlie Chaplin to Audrey Hepburn.

Vidor began his career in film as a teenager, working as a projectionist in a Galveston theater.

His first hit came in 1925, with The Big Parade, the highest grossing silent film of all time. Shot partly in Texas, the film follows Jim Apperson, an idle young man who joins the army to fight in World War I. In France, Jim experiences the horrors of combat and loses a leg in battle. Vidor's film emphasizes the human costs of war.

Later masterpieces in Vidor's career include The Crowd, Stella Dallas, Duel in the Sun, War and Peace, and an adaptation of Ayn Rand's controversial novel The Fountainhead starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal.

Often drawn to social themes, Vidor hoped his films would "help humanity to free itself from the shackles of fear and suffering that have so long bound it with iron chains."

A sculpture of the Tin Man from The Wizard of Oz stands in the front yard of Vidor's childhood home in Galveston. Vidor directed the film's Kansas scenes as a favor to MGM. The fanciful sculpture is a memorial to this Texan's remarkable life in American film.

More information about King Vidor and other Texas Originals is available at This program is produced by KUHF Houston Public Radio and Humanities Texas, with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities.