Last month I was speaking to a member of the LHAB who has been involved in the organization as an officer for several years. We were talking about the LHB uniforms and I mentioned that I had just received the donation of the Texas Star uniform of Emma Lea King Mayton, Texas Star 1966-1967, to add to our collection. He paused a second and said, “That’s great but what is a Texas Star?” This made me stop and think of the value of sharing the many stories of the LHB and LHAB, so here goes the history of the Texas Stars and the LHB.
Certainly, the first twirler was Gladys Pharr, the young daughter of Burnett Pharr, the Director of the LHB in the 1920s and 1930s (see the previous post, The Drum Minor). Next up most likely is a high school student named Becky Havens from Orange, Texas. Becky was a world champion twirler who was the drum major of the Orange High School Bengal Guards. The Bengal Guards was a famous drum and bugle corps started by Lutcher Stark in the 1930s for Orange High School. The group traveled all over the country performing their music and was the first high school group to perform at Memorial Stadium in 1940 at the UT/A&M game. Becky was the first twirler to perform on the field with the Bengal Guards and the LHB. Becky is listed as a freshman at UT in 1941 but is not listed with the LHB as a twirler in the Cactus. The photo here, from the 1940 Cactus, shows Becky with four members of the LHB. In this photo, she is listed as Becky Havens of Orange, Texas.
There is no mention of any twirlers with the LHB until the 1948 Cactus where it notes champion twirler Justine Havens, sister of Becky Havens, as a guest star performing with the Longhorn Band.
In the 1949 Cactus, there are 6 majorettes listed with the LHB: Rosalyn Haney, Janet Dunn, Veruida Hebert, Doris King, Jean Wethausen, and Lee Giles.
In 1950 the Texas Stars were formed as a Club at the University of Texas with Dean Arno Nowotny as the sponsor. Auditions were held and 15 girls were chosen as members. They performed as a precision twirling team at football games, basketball games, pep rallies and other events. There is no notation in the 1949 Cactus of any other majorettes and the Texas Stars remained a Club performing with the LHB with membership ranging from 15 to 22 members.
In 1953, two majorettes are listed with the LHB: Alberta Ann Arlidge and Salley Rose Nichols. This is the first mention of majorettes since 1948. During this time the Texas Stars had a membership of 22 to 23 members. When Vincent R DiNino became LHB Director in 1956, LHB and the Texas Stars became known as the Showband of the Southwest. The feature twirler was Elizabeth Ann Mullenix with majorettes Charlotte Mabry and Margaret Smith.
Donna Beth McCormick remembers that the Texas Stars performed and traveled with the LHB and always rode on Bus 1 in the late 1950s. In 1961, the membership of the Texas Stars had five members: Nancy Sullivan, Penelope Jones Pearce, Carolyn Schroeter, Rita Virginia Mims and Patricia Ruth Aston. Feature twirlers that year were B Carolyn Porter and Irene Louise Reeb. The Texas Stars performed with the LHB until the 1960s with differing numbers of performers. Their last year as the Texas Stars was 1966-67 with six members: Emma Lea King, Jo Ann Shaw, Gloria Swerk, Sharon Anderson, Sallie Beth Latham, and Mary Ann Nelson.
After the Texas Stars no longer performed with the LHB, a feature twirler continued with the band. Auditions for the feature twirler are held yearly and always yield a stand-out performer to complement the performance of the LHB. The LHAB is always fortunate to have former feature twirlers and Texas Stars who add their skill and flair to the annual Band Day halftime performance.
Recently the LHAB was contacted by the family of Barbara Bancroft Richardson who offered to donate her Texas Stars vest, skirt, and tie. Barbara was a member of the LHB flute section beginning in 1960 and was a Texas Star in 1962. Regrettably, the 1962 Cactus does not include names or photos of the Texas Stars from that year. But fortunately, the Richardson Family shared this photo of their Mom and three of the 1962 Texas Stars.
Reviewing all the photos of band members from the 1962 Cactus yielded the following list of Texas Stars in 1962 as they wore their Texas Star uniform in the photos: Barbara Bancroft, Sherry Longwood, Velma Ray Thurman, Patricia Aston, Amelia Janssen, Penelope Pierce, Carolyn Schroeter and Carolyn Swerk.
The uniform worn in this photo of Jean McHenry from 1953 is the uniform we now have in our LHAB Archives thanks to its donation by the Richardson Family. The skirt and vest are made of leather. It is was worn until the mid-1960s when the outfit changed to a skirt and vest made from orange fabric with fringe and a black leather belt studded with the name Texas Stars, as shown in the photo from 1966.
Look for a display window in the hallway of the music building soon showing some great photos of the twirlers over the years and our two newly donated Texas Stars uniforms.
Thanks to Delia Tovar Botbol for the twirler link, Emma Lea King Mayton and the family of Barbara Bancroft Richardson for the lovely uniforms, and Donna Beth McCormick for her “always ready to share” knowledge of LHAB history.
Article and photos compiled by Barbara Childs Helbert, LHB 1965-69, LHAB Archives Chair