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Lonesome Dove Revisited: Southwest Writers Collection extends and expands popular exhibit

San Marcos Daily Record (08/01/2004)

Author not available

Responding to an overwhelming number of visitors to the "Lonesome Dove Revisited" exhibit, Southwestern Writers Collection (SWWC) curator Connie Todd recently announced that the show would be extended until the end of August.

As an added bonus, Lonesome Dove fans can now view even more costumes and props from the classic CBS miniseries, on both the first and seventh floors of Texas State's Alkek Library where the Southwestern Writers Collection makes its home.

"I was Bill Wittliff's assistant in 1988," reminisced Todd, "and among the lucky few to work on the Lonesome Dove miniseries from the very first line written by Bill to the final cutting for time right before the episodes were sent to the network."

As the co-executive producer's right hand, Todd discovered herself assigned a variety of odd jobs during the filming: "I had to call up Larry McMurtry and ask him if white pigs would be okay to use instead of the blue pigs he'd written into his novel," she said. "I also found original sheet music for the 19th-century song, 'Lorena,' and made a tape of it for Robert Duvall so he could listen between the takes of his amazing death scene with Tommy Lee Jones - just like Gus listened to the piano in the saloon as he lay dying."

"All of us who worked on Lonesome Dove knew how special it was,"Todd continued, "and gave every bit of our energy to it. That it turned out so well will always be a happy memory for me. That I can revisit the series through our exhibitions is an unexpected gift - and one I'm delighted the Writers Collection can share with the public."

In addition to the wardrobe and set designs, script pages, photographs, and authentic props and costumes already on display - including the muslin-wrapped "body" of Robert Duvall's character, Gus McCrae, and the arrows that caused his untimely demise - visitors can now get a close-up look at costumes from a host of characters, including Po Campo (played by Jorge Mart nez de Hoyos), Jake Spoon (Robert Urich), Gus McRae (Robert Duvall), Woodrow Call (Tommy Lee Jones), and Clara Allen (Anjelica Huston).

These outfits join the old cavalry cap, "long-johns" shirt, and patchwork-quilt pants of Joshua Deets (played by Danny Glover), the cotton dress and lace shawl of Lorena Wood (Diane Lane), and the boots and hats worn by Robert Duvall and Tommy Lee Jones that have been on view since May.

Also new to the exhibit is a trail of hats representing the men of Lonesome Dove: Bolivar (Len Singer), Dish Boggett (D.B. Sweeney), Lippy Jones (William Sanderson), Po Campo (Jorge Mart nez de Hoyos), Newt Dobbs (Rick Shroder), Jake Spoon (Robert Urich), Pea Eye Parker (Tim Scott), Big Zwey (Frederick Coffin), Luke (Steve Buscemi), and Jasper Fant (Barry Tubb).

The spear that killed Joshua Deets and Deets' grave marker now join the Hat Creek Cattle Company sign and the last mortal remains and grave marker of Gus McCrae.

Still on display is the new traveling exhibit created in part from a Texas Commission on the Arts grant. Working with design consultant Drew Patterson, Assistant Curator Steve Davis substantially expanded the Lonesome Dove section from a previous NEH-funded SWWC exhibit, "No Traveller Remains Untouched," to show the breadth of the Lonesome Dove collection and highlight the story's journey from novel to screen.

Presented on three two-sided panels, the 120" x 80" hinged exhibit offers a behind-the-scenes look at the real-life historical inspirations for Larry McMurtry's characters, as well as examples from screenwriter Bill Wittliff's much-honored adaptation of McMurtry's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel. Depictions of costume drawings, props, blueprints, continuity photos, and production forms lend additional insight into the filming of the 8-hour television miniseries.

The Lonesome Dove materials were donated through the efforts of Bill and Sally Wittliff, the founding benefactors of the SWWC and Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography at Texas State, as well as members of the crew - Cary White, Van Ramsey, Eric Williams, Connie Todd, and others. Representing a complete record of the miniseries, the Lonesome Dove Archives contain props, costumes, set designs, photographs, production notes, screenplay drafts, and almost eighty hours of film "dailies."

Bill Wittliff, who wrote the screenplay adaptation of McMurtry's novel and was the film's co-executive producer, also applied his skills as an accomplished photographer to create a series of transcendent images while on the Lonesome Dove set. Described by "Texas Monthly" magazine as "landscapes of Texas myth... [that] whisk us back not just to 1988 but to the late 1870s," these sepia-toned black-and-white photographs continue to be widely exhibited and sold, with proceeds supplementing Collection funding.

A selection of Wittliff's most popular prints from the film set can be seen in the "Lonesome Dove Revisited"exhibit.

Wittliff's series "Vaquero: Genesis of the Texas Cowboy," documents one of the last large cattle round-ups through October 17 at the Wittliff Gallery of Southwestern & Mexican Photography, adjacent to the SWWC on the Alkek Library's seventh floor. Don't miss "Songs of the Vaqueros," folk music from the Mexican and Texas cowboy traditions, at 4 p.m. on Friday, September 17.

"Vietnam from a Texas POW," will open at the Southwestern Writers Collection on September 1. This exhibit tells the war's stories from points of view close to home, through the words, photographs and memorabilia of Sarah Bird, William Broyles, Jr., Mark Busby, James Crumley, Robert Flynn, Michael Rodriguez, & others. Also on view: artifacts from the 1988-91 ABC television series "China Beach" co-created by William Broyles, Jr., and articles and artwork documenting the state's Vietnamese population from the SWWC's "Texas Monthly" Archives. Watch the Calendar of Events page for information about a panel discussion, coming soon: http://www.swwc.txstate.edu.

The Lonesome Dove Archives are also featured in a special on-line exhibit. A variety of the film's memorabilia is displayed and discussed, and the complete materials finding aid is available for viewing on the SWWC website at http://www.library.txstate.edu/swwc/exhibits/txlitoutlaws.html.

The Southwestern Writers Collection is located in the Alkek Library at Texas State University - San Marcos, halfway between Austin and San Antonio. Lonesome Dove materials can be viewed on both 1st and 7th floors of the library through August 31, 2004. Please call ahead to verify August hours: 512-245-2313, or access hours and directions online: http://www.swwc.txstate.edu. Exhibit admission is free.

The Southwestern Writers Collection, part of the Alkek Library Department of Special Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos, was founded in 1986 and has since become a distinguished and steadily growing archive charged with preserving, exhibiting and providing access to the papers and artifacts of principal writers, filmmakers, songwriters and musicians of the Southwest. Its resources attest to the tremendous diversity of creative expression among southwestern artists and contribute to a rich research environment within which students and others may discover - and be inspired by - how the unique conditions and character of the region have shaped its people and their cultural arts. Curator, Connie Todd. Assistant Curator, Steve Davis.