W. Lee O'Daniel
- "Pappy O'Daniel" redirects here. For the fictional character, see O Brother, Where Art Thou?
|W. Lee O'Daniel|
|United States Senator
August 4, 1941 – January 3, 1949
|Preceded by||Andrew Jackson Houston|
|Succeeded by||Lyndon B. Johnson|
|34th Governor of Texas|
January 17, 1939 – August 4, 1941
|Lieutenant||Coke R. Stevenson|
|Preceded by||James Allred|
|Succeeded by||Coke R. Stevenson|
|Born||Wilbert Lee O'Daniel
March 11, 1890
|Died||May 11, 1969
|Resting place||Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery|
|Spouse(s)||Merle Estella Butcher|
Wilbert Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel (March 11, 1890 – May 11, 1969) was a conservative Democratic Party politician from Texas, who came to prominence by hosting a popular radio program. Known for his populist appeal and support of Texas's business community, Pappy O'Daniel was the governor of Texas and later its junior U.S. senator. He was also the only person ever to have defeated Lyndon B. Johnson in an election. O'Daniel was also a songwriter who composed "Beautiful Texas".
The 2000 Coen Brothers film O Brother Where Art Thou featured a character played by Charles Durning and named Governor Pappy O'Daniel, loosely based on the real O'Daniel, and set in Mississippi.
O'Daniel was born in Malta, Ohio, and as a young child moved to Reno County, Kansas, where he lived on a cattle ranch. In 1925, he moved to Fort Worth, Texas, to work for Burrus Mills, a flour-milling company.
In the late 1920s, O'Daniel assumed responsibility for the company's radio advertising. To that end, he wrote songs, sang, and hired a group of musicians to form an old timey band to back his vocals. Originally called the Light Crust Doughboys, notable musicians such as Bob Wills got their start with O'Daniel. After the Doughboys split up, O'Daniel formed the Western swing band, Pat O'Daniel and his Hillbilly Boys. The new group was named after O'Daniel's own Hillbilly Flour Company. O'Daniel also hosted a regular noontime radio show heard statewide, which gave him his nickname after a catchphrase used frequently on air -- "pass the biscuits, Pappy" -- and propelled him into the public spotlight. By the mid-1930s, "Pappy" O'Daniel was a household name in Texas. As a national magazine reporter wrote at the time: "At twelve-thirty sharp each day, a fifteen-minute silence reigned in the state of Texas, broken only by mountain music, and the dulcet voice of W. Lee O'Daniel." The show extolled the values of Hillbilly brand flour, the Ten Commandments and the Bible.
In 1938, he ran for governor of Texas as a Democrat. O'Daniel's campaign hailed his flour and the need for pensions and tax cuts. He promised to block a sales tax and raise pensions. O'Daniel won the Democratic party primary election easily with 51% of the vote over 12 opponents. In office, he proposed a new sales tax, which was voted down by the Texas Legislature. He handily won re-election in 1940. In both elections, his main competition came from Texas Railroad Commissioner Ernest O. Thompson, the former mayor of Amarillo.
In 1941, O'Daniel ran for the United States Senate in a special election. He defeated Lyndon Johnson by 1,311 votes in one of the more controversial elections in state history. His victory made him the only person to ever defeat Johnson for elected office. As a senator, O'Daniel was ineffective, and most of his legislation was defeated. He endorsed the anti-Roosevelt Texas Regulars in the 1944 presidential election. O'Daniel refused to run for another term in 1948, but ran for governor of Texas in 1956 and 1958 and claimed that the Brown v. Board of Education decision was part of a communist conspiracy. He finished third in the Democratic primaries both times.
- Sorin, Hillary (2010-08-04), "Today in Texas History: Gov. Pappy O’Daniel resigns", The Houston Chronicle, retrieved 2011-08-02, "Many cultural and political historians think the character Gov. Menelaus “Pappy” O’Daniel of Mississippi is based on the notorious Texas politician, Wilbert Lee “Pappy” O’Daniel."
- Flensted-Jensen, Pernille (2002), "Something old, something new, something borrowed: the Odyssey and O Brother, Where Art Thou", Classica Et Mediaevalia: Revue Danoise De Philologie 53: 13–30. Flensted-Jensen elaborates on the connection between the fictional and the real Pappy O'Daniel on pp. 27–28.
- "W.L. O'Daniel, Handbook of Texas Online, s.v.,". (accessed May 26, 2010)
- Malone, Bill C. (2002). "The Cowboy Image and the Growth of Western Music". Country Music, U.S.A.: Second Revised Edition. University of Texas Press. p. 151. ISBN 0-292-75262-8.
- Crawford, Bill (2004). Please Pass the Biscuits, Pappy: Pictures of Governor W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel. John Anderson. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0-292-70575-1.
- Woods, Randall Bennett (2007). "Pappy". LBJ: Architect of American Ambition. Harvard University Press. p. 148. ISBN 0-674-02699-3.
- W. Lee O'Daniel and his Hillbilly Boys sing Chinatown My Chinatown. Dallas 1935 -YouTube
- Alan Jackson tribute to W. Lee O'Daniel and the Light Crust Dough Boys – YouTube
- W. Lee O'Daniel from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Photos of W. Lee O'Daniel, hosted by the Portal to Texas History
- Congressional Biographical Directory
- Light Crust Doughboys from the Handbook of Texas Online
- Excerpt from Please Pass the Biscuits, Pappy: Pictures of Governor W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, ISBN 978-0-292-70575-3
James V. Allred
|Governor of Texas
January 17, 1939 – August 4, 1941
Coke R. Stevenson
|United States Senate|
Andrew J. Houston
|U.S. Senator (Class 2) from Texas
Lyndon B. Johnson