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|31st Governor of California|
October 5, 1953 – January 5, 1959
|Lieutenant||Harold J. Powers|
|Preceded by||Earl Warren|
|Succeeded by||Pat Brown|
|35th Lieutenant Governor of California|
January 7, 1947 – October 5, 1953
|Preceded by||Frederick F. Houser|
|Succeeded by||Harold J. Powers|
|Born||Goodwin Jess Knight
December 9, 1896
|Died||May 22, 1970
|Alma mater||Stanford University (B.A.)|
Knight was born in Provo, Utah, but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was a boy. His father, Jess Knight (son of mining magnate Jesse Knight), was a mining engineer, but Goodwin followed in his mother's (Lille) father's (John B. Milner) footsteps. This grandfather was a judge in Provo, Utah.
Knight attended high school in Los Angeles, at Manual Arts High School. One of his classmates was Jimmy Doolittle. He earned an A.B. in Law and Business from Stanford University, where he was a member of the Stanford Chaparral, in 1919. Knight also attended Cornell University. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War I.
Knight was a judge of the Superior Court in Los Angeles beginning in 1935. He was reelected in 1936 and 1942 without significant opposition. His case load varied from the glamorous to the mundane. He oversaw weddings and divorces for Hollywood starlets.
Political career and governor of California
Knight began his political career in 1944, when he pursued the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. He bowed out early, though, to back Fred Houser. He was elected as the 35th Lieutenant Governor of California to serve under Governor Earl Warren in 1946 then reelected in 1950. He became governor himself when Warren resigned to become Chief Justice of the United States in 1953.
While Lieutenant Governor he made a guest appearance on the Jack Benny show, an episode from San Francisco.
As governor, Knight fought for control of the Republican Party of California with U.S. Senate Majority Leader William Knowland and Vice President Richard Nixon. In 1954, Knight was easily elected to his own full term. At first Knight seemed to make an alliance with Knowland, but this began to sour in 1956 when Knowland supported Nixon for renomination as vice president. In 1957, Knowland announced that he would challenge Knight in the 1958 Republican primary for governor. Knight, known as a moderate, and sympathetic to organized labor, faced a serious threat from more conservative challengers. He was induced by Knowland, Nixon, President Dwight Eisenhower, and others to run for Knowland's Senate seat instead of running for governor again. Both Knowland and Knight went down in defeat in 1958, with Knowland losing the gubernatorial race to Edmund G. "Pat" Brown, Sr. and Knight losing the Senate race by over 10% to Clair Engle, severely weakening the heretofore-dominant Republicans in the state. This left Nixon in control of the California party and in line for the presidential nomination, which Knowland and Knight had also desired.
In 1964, Knight endorsed Nelson Rockefeller for the Republican nomination against Barry Goldwater. Rockefeller was unsuccessful in stopping Goldwater, the darling of the party's growing conservative wing. Knight never ran for political office again.
Knight's first wife, Arvilla, died of a heart attack on 29 October 1952; the couple had two daughters. He married Virginia Carlson (born Virginia Piergue on 12 October 1918 in Fort Dodge, Iowa), the widow of an Army Lieutenant, on 2 August 1954 at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in Los Angeles. The couple had no children.
On May 22, 1970, Knight died three months after his daughter, Carolyn, committed suicide. His widow, Virginia, never remarried, and died on 29 November 2010.
- Staff writers (1 June 1970). "Milestones". Time. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- Valerie J. Nelson (December 1, 2010). "Virginia Knight dies at 92; former first lady of California". The Los Angeles Times. p. AA7. Retrieved 5 December 2011.
- Goodwin J. Knight Political History
- Biography and Inaugural speeches
- American Legion in Utah - Politician members
- Finding aid for Goodwin J. Knight Oral History, Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
- Mrs Virginia Knight oral history interview on her husband 
|Party political offices|
William F. Knowland
|Republican nominee for
U.S. Senator from California (Class 1)
|Republican nominee for
Governor of California
William F. Knowland
Frederick F. Houser
|Lieutenant Governor of California
Harold J. Powers
|Governor of California