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Texas State University
Texas State University

Dr. James "Red" Duke

Physician, TV personality
Wednesday, April 24, 1985

Dr. James H. "Red" Duke, Jr, became one of the best-known physicians in the nation through his syndicated 90-second television health spots, but his place in the medical profession was secure long before he became a media figure.

Born in Ennis, Texas, in 1928, he earned a bachelor of science degree from Texas A&M University in 1950 and then joined the U.S. Army, serving as a first lieutenant in the 67th Medium Tank Battalion, 2nd Armor Division, from 1951 to 1955. In 1960 he received the doctor of medicine degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Dr. Duke served his medical internship from 1960 to 1961 at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. During his general surgery residency at Parkland, he was a junior resident from 1961 to 1964 and chief resident from 1964 to 1965.

Dr. Duke wore a number of hats at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston: professor of surgery, special assistant to the president of the center, vice chairman for clinical affairs at the medical school and medical director of the emergency medical services program at the School for Allied Health Sciences. 

His televised health reports — punctuated with the now-familiar line "from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, I'm Dr. 'Red' Duke" drawled from beneath a huge moustache that almost touched his wire-rim glasses — were syndicated on more than 50 stations throughout the nation.

Dr. Duke also took part in the Emmy Award-winning NBC series "Life Line" featuring doctors at work across the United States. Dr. Duke's segment, which also won an Emmy, showed the doctor in the emergency room surgery unit, chomping a cigar, admitting patients, barefoot in the operating room, rinsing his socks after surgery and talking to the families of the emergency surgery patients. 

—Adapted from the original event program distributed at Dr. H "Red" Duke's LBJ Distinguished Lecture

"The complexities associated with modern day life have given rise to a vast array of questions and problems, all of which strongly and directly influence our decision-making abilities and other behaviors."