William Bradford Huie
|William Bradford Huie|
|Born||November 13, 1910|
|Died||November 20, 1986(age 76)|
William Bradford "Bill" Huie (November 13, 1910 – November 20, 1986) was an American journalist, editor, publisher, television interviewer, screenwriter, lecturer, and novelist.
Born in Hartselle, Alabama, Huie was the son of John Bradford and Margaret Lois Brindley Huie, and was the eldest of three children. He attended Morgan County High School and graduated as class valedictorian. He then attended the University of Alabama, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1930. From 1932 to 1936, Huie worked for the newspaper The Birmingham Post. In 1934, he married his grammar school sweetheart, Ruth Puckett. Their wedding took place in her parents' home in Hartselle, and Huie later immortalized the scene in his largely autobiographical first novel, Mud on the Stars (1942).
In late 1938, Huie was in Los Angeles and took it upon himself to work as an undercover reporter to gather information on gangster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel. He reported on his experiences in the December 1950 edition of The American Mercury.
Huie's first national recognition came with the article "How To Keep Football Stars In College" (Collier's Weekly, January 1, 1941). This piece was about the University of Alabama football program in the 1940s and included controversial quotations such as: "We who have recruited Alabama's players know who our competitors have been. And we've offered no higher prices than were necessary to compete in the open market." Huie's relationship to the football program was unclear, but the views he reported foreshadow those of the famous Paul "Bear" Bryant.
During World War II, he served in the United States Navy, for a time as aide to Vice Admiral Ben Moreell of the famous Seabees. While chronicling the wartime activity of the Seabees, Lieutenant Huie had special permission to continue his own writing projects, both fiction and nonfiction, dealing primarily with the war. His Navy experiences, including his participation in D-Day, would become the basis for his 1959 novel The Americanization of Emily, adapted into the 1964 film of the same name starring James Garner and Julie Andrews. Both Garner and Andrews consider it the personal favorite of their films.
Released from the Navy in 1945, Huie went immediately to the Pacific theatre as a war correspondent. His experiences at Iwo Jima became the basis for the nonfiction work "The Hero of Iwo Jima", published in The Hero of Iwo Jima and Other Stories in 1962, the tragic story of flag-raiser Ira Hayes. Huie's account was developed into the 1961 film The Outsider with Tony Curtis. His experiences in Hawaii during the war became the basis for the novel The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1951), which was developed into the 1956 film of the same name starring Jane Russell.
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Before the war, Huie had been writing for The American Mercury, the famous literary magazine founded by H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan. Like Mencken, Huie was a critic of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" policies during the Great Depression. After the war, he returned to the Mercury, becoming associate editor, then editor. In 1950, publisher Clendenin J. Ryan bought the magazine. Ryan and editor Huie sought to develop the magazine into a journal of the fledgling American conservative intellectual movement, opening its pages to new, mass-appeal writers such as evangelist Billy Graham, former communist Max Eastman, and long-time Federal Bureau of Investigation director J. Edgar Hoover. Young William F. Buckley, future National Review founder and editor, was one of Huie's early staffers.
By the mid-1950s, however, Huie and Ryan were unable to overcome financial difficulties and were forced to sell the magazine to one of its investors, Russell Maguire. After Huie's departure, Maguire and other owners drove The New American Mercury, in author William A. Rusher's phrase, "toward the fever swamps of anti-Semitism," destroying its legitimacy and presaging its demise. To Huie's disgust, the journal which had once featured the work of W. E. B. Du Bois and Langston Hughes became a periodical advocating racism.
From 1950 to 1955, Huie was a popular speaker traveling back and forth across the country on the professional lecture circuit. During the same period, he also became well known through his appearances on the weekly New York City television current events program Longines Chronoscope. As a co-editor of the hour-long talk show, he interviewed newsmakers John F. Kennedy, Joseph McCarthy, and Clare Boothe Luce, as well as international dignitaries, politicians, scientists, and economists. His program coeditors included figures such as Henry Hazlitt and Max Eastman. Domestic issues, Congressional activity, military defense, the Olympics, and foreign policy were all topics discussed on the program.
Huie and his wife moved their permanent residence back to native Hartselle in the late 1950s. Ruth became a first grade schoolteacher, and he continued to write full-time at home as freelance journalist and novelist, traveling only periodically on work-related matters.
These were the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, and Huie was called upon by periodicals such as the New York Herald Tribune and Look magazine to cover breaking events in the South. His 1956 book Ruby McCollum: Woman in the Suwannee Jail was written in collaboration with Zora Neale Hurston, who had covered the first Ruby McCollum trial in Live Oak, Florida for the Pittsburgh Courier. McCollum, a black woman, had shot and killed her physician and white lover, Senator-elect Dr. Leroy Adams, who was being groomed to run for Governor of Florida. Hurston, who was also an African-American, was not allowed to interview McCollum, so she called on Huie, who she thought might stand a better chance to convince the judge in the trial, Hal W. Adams, to grant an interview. However, not only was he not allowed to see McCollum, Huie was thereafter arrested on contempt of court charges, the judge citing him for "meddling" in a trial that "could embarrass the community". Huie was soon freed from jail and eventually pardoned years later. His book was banned in Florida, but Ebony, Time, and other journals disseminated the story worldwide.
Huie also reported on the murder of African-American Chicago teenager Emmett Till, and after a Mississippi jury found the accused murderers of Till not guilty, he paid the killers themselves $4,000 to describe how and why they committed the murders. Since they could not be tried again, the killers complied, and the story was published in Look magazine. Some mainstream journalists expressed criticism of his "checkbook journalism". Huie's article depicting the version of events as described by the killers was later refuted (with the sole exceptions being the actual kidnapping and murder) by a primary source, Till's cousin and eyewitness to the events at the store and to the abduction later, Simeon Wright, in his 2010 memoir, "Simeon's Story."
He also reported on various Ku Klux Klan activities, including the killing of "Freedom Summer" workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner in articles, stories, and books such as Wolf Whistle (1959), The Klansman (1965) and Three Lives for Mississippi (1965). Huie's activities caused the KKK to burn a cross on his front lawn in 1967.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. himself wrote the Introduction for the second edition of Huie's Three Lives for Mississippi, and he wrote that the book "is a part of the arsenal decent Americans can employ to make democracy for all truly a birthright and not a distant dream. It relates the story of an atrocity committed on our doorstep." Subsequent editions of the work also include an "Afterword" by Juan Williams. In 1970, Huie published He Slew the Dreamer, the true story of the Memphis assassination of King, for which he interviewed assassin James Earl Ray.
Huie's book The Execution of Private Slovik related the true story of World War II G.I. Eddie Slovik, the only soldier since the American Civil War to be executed for desertion, a fate kept so quiet by the government that even Slovik's widow did not know how that her husband had died. After the book exposed the event and told Eddie's story, Huie and others tried for years to get the government to pay his widow a pension, but with no success, even though the most-watched television movie before 1974 was NBC's The Execution of Private Slovik, starring Martin Sheen.
Ruth, Huie's wife of almost 40 years, died of cancer in 1973, following the death of his father just months before. In 1975, the same year that Alabama's Library Association honored him with Best Fiction Award for In the Hours of Night, Huie met Martha Hunt Robertson of Guntersville, Alabama, an Art Instructor at a local college. They married in Huntsville, Alabama on July 16, 1977. She continued teaching at the college, and he continued to write, while they divided their time between their Hartselle and Guntersville homes. In a few years, the Huies moved to Scottsboro, Alabama, and by 1985 they resettled in Guntersville.
On November 20, 1986, Huie died of a heart attack. Left unfinished or unpublished were works titled "The Ray of Hope", "Battle Without Song", "To Live and Die in Dixie", "The Q Secret", "Codsack Chronicles", and "Recollections of a Loner". His widow and sole heir donated the Huie papers to Ohio State University, and she continues to represent her late husband's literary properties and manages ongoing projects.
Since 1974, the Alabama Authors Collection at Snead Community College's McCain Learning Resource Center, Boaz, Alabama, has been documenting Huie's life and career and has a variety of artifacts, as well as all of his books. In November 2006, the City of Hartselle renamed the local public library in honor of Huie. The William Bradford Huie Library of Hartselle has a permanent biographical display of Huie's work, as well as bibliographic resources. In 2007, the Guntersville Museum and Cultural Center added a William Bradford Huie component to its permanent collection.
Since Huie's death in 1986, dozens of publications have cited, quoted, referenced and analyzed his work. Recent examples include: David Halberstam's The Fifties; both volumes of Reporting Civil Rights: American Journalism 1941-1963 and 1963-1973; The Race Beat by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, 2006; and Devin McKinney's "An American Cuss," in Issue 57 of the Oxford American, 2007. Huie's alma mater, the University of Alabama, honored him posthumously with a Fine Arts Award as well as induction into the College of Communication and Information Sciences Hall of Fame.
- Mud on the Stars (1942; reprinted with new material 1996) - (1960 film, Wild River)
- The Revolt of Mamie Stover (1951) - (1956 film)
- The Americanization of Emily (1959) - (1964 film)
- Hotel Mamie Stover (1963)
- The Klansman (1967) - (1974 film)
- In the Hours of the Night (1975)
- How To Keep Football Stars In College (1941)
- The Fight for Air Power (1942)
- Seabee Roads to Victory (1944)
- Can Do!: The Story of the Seabees (1944; reprinted with new material 1997)
- From Omaha to Okinawa: The Story of the Seabees (1945; reprinted with new material 1999)
- The Case against the Admirals: Why We Must Have a Unified Command (1946)
- Ruby McCollum: Woman in the Suwannee Jail (with Zora Neale Hurston) (1956)
- The Execution of Private Slovik (1954; reprinted with new material 2004) - (1974 film)
- Wolf Whistle and Other Stories (1959, retitled The Outsider and Other Stories in the UK, The Outsider 1961 film)
- The Hiroshima Pilot: The Case of Major Claude Eatherly (1964)
- Three Lives for Mississippi (1965; reprinted with new material 2000)
- He Slew the Dreamer: My Search with James Earl Ray for the Truth about the Murder of Martin Luther King (1970)
- A New Life To Live: Jimmy Putnam's Story (editor 1977)
- It's Me O Lord! (1979)
- "William Bradford Huie". Encyclopedia Alabama. Retrieved 2011-03-23.
- Boedeke, Hal (July 29, 2001). "Easygoing Garner Gets Nice Salute: Turner Classic Movies Honors the Star with a Review of His Career and by Showing 18 of His Movies.". The Orlando Sentinel.
- James Garner of Charlie Rose, ~6' from beginning
- Blank, Ed. "Andrews as Maria a result of 'happy circumstances'". Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. 17 November 2005.
- Longines Chronoscope programs are at the Library of Congress National Archives and Records (http://www.archives.gov) catalogued as "Television Interviews, 1951-1955".
- In 2006 the University of Florida Press published The Silencing of Ruby McCollum: Race, Class, and Gender in the South by Tammy Evans.
- p.52 Whitfield, Stephen J. A Death in the Delta: The Story of Emmett Till JHU Press, 01/11/1991
- William Bradford Huie celebrated on The Southern Literary Trail
- "I'm In The Truth Business: William Bradford Huie" - The television series The Alabama Experience, produced by The University of Alabama Center for Public Television, profiles one of this century's most successful and controversial writers. Copies of the show are available on DVD and VHS.
- "Slate: The Murder of Emmett Till"—2005 Slate overview of WBH's role in the investigation of the Emmett Till murder.
- "The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi" by William Bradford Huie, Look Magazine, 1956
- Jonathan Yardley (Washington Post): "Mamie Stover: Blond Ambition"
- The Execution of Private Slovik by William Bradford Huie.
- Longines Chronoscope with Rep. John F. Kennedy (1952) William Bradford Huie and Harold Levine talk with Rep. John F. Kennedy