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John Reagan McCrary Jr. (1910 - 2003)

John Reagan (Tex) McCrary Jr.
Born in Calvert, Robertson County, Texas, United Statesmap
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[spouse(s) unknown]
[children unknown]
Died at age 92 in New York City, New York County, United Statesmap
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Profile last modified | Created 11 Jul 2009
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Wikipedia Entry:

Tex McCrary. birthname: John Reagan McCrary. (13 October 1910, Calvert, Texas - 29 July 2003, New York City) was a journalist and public relations specialist who invented the talk-show genre for both television and radio, and appeared on radio and TV with his wife Jinx Falkenburg. McCrary graduated from the Phillips Exeter Academy in 1928[1] and from Yale University in 1932, where he was a member of Skull and Bones. McCrary played a major role in the nomination of Dwight Eisenhower for the Presidency. According to Richard Kluger's The Paper, McCrary was responsible for John Hay Whitney's purchase of The New York Herald Tribune.[2]

Obituary from the New York Times: By RICHARD SEVERO Published: Wednesday, July 30, 2003 Tex McCrary, a legendary New York public relations man and political strategist who with his wife, the actress and model Jinx Falkenburg, helped create and popularize the talk-show format on radio and television in the 1940's and 50's, died yesterday in Manhattan. He was 92 and lived in Manhattan.

In their prime in the 1950's, Tex and Jinx, as they were widely known, had two radio shows, a five-day-a-week television show, a syndicated column in The New York Herald Tribune and still found time to make many personal appearances. They broadcast some of their shows from Peacock Alley in the Waldorf-Astoria where they interviewed guests as glamorous as they were.

Mr. McCrary, who started his career as a journalist and was rarely without a newspaper column as a base of operations, always seemed more comfortable helping to shape opinion than to report it, and 1952 was a banner year for him. He was convinced that Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower could be prevailed on to run for president on the Republican ticket and that he could beat the favorite for the nomination, Senator Robert A. Taft of Ohio. To convince the skeptical general that a groundswell of enthusiasm existed for his candidacy, Mr. McCrary staged a huge public outpouring rally in Madison Square Garden that moved the general to tears.

The rally took place on Feb. 8 after a basketball game and featured thousands of supporters chanting in unison, We Want Ike! and waving I Like Ike signs and banners.

Mr. McCrary also arranged to have Mary Martin, a fellow Texan who was appearing in the London production of South Pacific, to sing I'm in Love With a Wonderful Guy to the general by way of short-wave radio while Richard Rodgers accompanied her on the piano in New York.

Eisenhower was nowhere near Madison Square Garden when all this was going on. He and his wife, Mamie, were residing in Paris where he was supreme commander of NATO. That did not deter Mr. McCrary, who got the aviator Jacqueline Cochran to fly a three-hour kinescope of the Madison Square Garden rally to Paris in her own plane and deliver it personally to the Eisenhowers' apartment, accompanied by Spyros Skouras, the movie mogul.

The general offered her a drink after the long flight and the first thing she did was to offer a toast to the president. Eisenhower watched the kinescope with tears in his eyes and on Feb. 20, 1952, he wrote to Mr. McCrary: While, as you know, I firmly believe that American interests demand that for the moment I remain outside the swirl of domestic political activity, it would be idle as well as false for me to attempt to deny that I am deeply touched by the obvious energy and conviction that you devoted to the Garden effort and by the extraordinary enthusiasm shown by the great crowd of Americans who gathered there. Even a clear personal knowledge of unworthiness of such confidence cannot overreach the pride that I feel.

A few weeks later Eisenhower entered the New Hampshire primary. Aided by Mr. McCrary, Gov. Sherman Adams and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge of Massachusetts he beat Senator Taft and was on his way to the White House.

A 1957 feature story in The New York Post said Mr. McCrary had the knack for making, manipulating and pyramiding friendships. Indeed, Mr. McCrary was his own fable, a publicist's publicist, proud of his expertise in the uncertain and sometimes volatile art of shaping public opinion.

Perhaps Mr. McCrary's biggest public relations coup was producing an exhibit for the United States Exhibition in Moscow in 1959 of his client Herbert Sadkin's typical American house. The kitchen of that house became the scene of the famous debate on the merits of capitalism between Vice President Richard M. Nixon, the official American host, and General Secretary Nikita S. Khrushchev of the Soviet Union.

William Safire, who was then a member of the McCrary team and later a Nixon aide and now a columnist for The New York Times, maneuvered the two protagonists into the kitchen. The photographer Elliot Erwitt of Magnum captured the image of Mr. Nixon poking the Soviet leader in the chest, which was used the following year when the vice president ran against John F. Kennedy as a man who could stand up to the Russians.

Among his clients were The New York Herald Tribune (he helped the Reid family sell it to John Hay Whitney); developers, builders and entrepreneurs like William Zeckendorf William Levitt and Samuel J. LeFrak; Chris-Craft, Learjet, and, for a time, the government of Argentina. Mr. McCrary also helped broker the deals that led to the creation of Place Lafayette in downtown Boston and Port Liberté in Jersey City, just west of the Statue of Liberty.

John Reagan McCrary was born on Oct. 13, 1910, in Calvert, Tex., the son of John Reagan McCrary, a cotton farmer who fell on hard times during the Depression, and Margaret Duggins Adoune McCrary. Mr. McCrary's grandfather was John H. Reagan, a United States senator and first chairman of the Texas State Railway Commission.

He left the Calvert public schools for Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and then went off to Yale, where he wrote for the humor magazine, boxed and was quarterback on Yale's football team for men who did not weigh over 150 pounds.

Jack Howard, a contemporary of Mr. McCrary at Yale who later became president of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, marveled at Mr. McCrary's social skills. He covered a lot of ground at Yale, Mr. Howard remembered. Mr. McCrary, who was a member of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity as well as Skull and Bones, the most famous of Yale's secret societies, graduated in 1932.

He he landed a $19-a-week copy boy's job at The New York World-Telegram, a Scripps-Howard paper. Soon he became a $21-a-week cub reporter there. He left to join The New York Daily Mirror, where he caught the attention of Arthur Brisbane, its editor. Mr. McCrary married Mr. Brisbane's daughter, Sara, in 1935.

Mr. Brisbane died the next year, and Mr. McCrary became The Mirror's chief editorial writer. He and his wife had a son, but the marriage fell apart and they were divorced in 1939. He began writing a column called Only Human and met Jinx Falkenburg in 1941 when he interviewed her for his column. She was playing a cowgirl in a Broadway musical starring Al Jolson called Hold Onto Your Hats and was regarded as one of the most beautiful women in America.

Within a year after the United States entered World War II, Mr. McCrary joined the Army Air Corps and became a photographer and public relations officer in the Mediterranean. In 1945 he became one of the first Americans to visit Hiroshima after the atomic bomb was dropped. He advised journalists not to write about what they had seen because he did not think Americans could stand to know what we've done here. John Hersey later told the story for The New Yorker. I covered it up, and John Hersey uncovered it, Mr. McCrary said years later. That's the difference between a P.R. man and a reporter.

After the war Mr. McCrary edited the American Mercury magazine. He soon renewed his friendship with Ms. Falkenburg, who had become a starlet under contract at MGM and who was one of the nation's highest-paid models. She was also a tennis and swimming star and the first Miss Rheingold They were married in June 1945. Although they were separated years later, they never divorced. Miss Falkenburg, who lives on Long Island, survives him, as do three sons: Michael, of Hunter, N.Y., from his first marriage; and, from his marriage to Miss Falkenburg, Kevin, of Manhattan, and John, of Mill Neck, N.Y.

In 1946 the McCrarys began their own radio talk show called Hi Jinx. It was successful, and Mr. McCrary, who did the planning and writing, was praised by the critic Harriet van Horne in The World-Telegram for his thoughtful programs on the atom bomb, venereal disease and the United Nations, subjects not usually mentioned on entertainment shows.

In 1947 they began a Sunday television show called At Home. They also had another television program called the Swift Home Service Club, in which they offered household hints and conducted chatty interviews. That same year their radio show Meet Tex and Jinx achieved such a following that it was run as a summer replacement for Duffy's Tavern, then one of radio's most popular situation comedies.

By the middle 1950's Mr. McCrary and Ms. Falkenburg were conducting their talk show from Peacock Alley, abutting the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria, where they snared celebrities as they picked up or dropped off their room keys.

The husband-and-wife talk show team eventually ran its course, and Mr. McCrary participated in his own radio shows for a time. He also continued to advise a variety of clients in business and politics.

At 85 and 43 years after the Eisenhower rally, Mr. McCrary tried no less forcefully to induce Gen. Colin L. Powell to run for the presidency in 1996. Mr. McCrary first met General Powell while recruiting him to speak at an Eisenhower centennial event in 1980. He said he saw in the general a second coming of Eisenhower -- a trusted individual who could lead the nation. Mr. Powell thought about running but after discussing it with his family, said absolutely not.

Mr. McCrary refused to accept the limitations of aging and turned several publishers down when they asked him to write his autobiography. I don't want to live what life I have left in the rear-view mirror, he told them.

Asked once what he wanted as his epitaph, he said he would like it to read, To be continued.

Photo: Jinx Falkenburg and Tex McCrary on CBS TV's Preview in 1949. (Photo by CBS) Correction: August 8, 2003, Friday Because of an editing error, an obituary of the public relations man and political strategist Tex McCrary on July 30 misstated the year in which he first met Gen. Colin L. Powell, whom he was recruiting as a speaker for a centennial celebration of Dwight D. Eisenhower's birth. It was 1990, not 1980.

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