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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Access
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Processing Information
  • Biography
  • Chronology
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Arrangement
  • Indexing Terms
  • Related Collections

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Jack and Bonita Granville Wrather papers
    Dates: 1890-1990
    Collection number: CSLA-23
    Creator: Wrather, Jack, 1918-1984
    Creator: Wrather, Bonita Granville, 1923-1988
    Collection Size: 105 archival document boxes, 15 oversize boxes, 6 records storage boxes, 3 flat files
    Repository: Loyola Marymount University. Library. Department of Archives and Special Collections.
    Los Angeles, California 90045-2659
    Abstract: The Jack and Bonita Granville Wrather Papers consist of textual and non-textual materials dating from the period 1890 to 1990. They document the considerable careers of Jack (1918-1984) and Bonita Granville Wrather (1923-1988) in the areas of entertainment, business, and politics.
    Languages: Languages represented in the collection: English

    Access

    Collection is open to research under the terms of use of the Department of Archives and Special Collections, Loyola Marymount University.

    Publication Rights

    Materials in the Department of Archives and Special Collections may be subject to copyright. Unless explicitly stated otherwise, Loyola Marymount University does not claim ownership of the copyright of any materials in its collections. The user or publisher must secure permission to publish from the copyright owner. Loyola Marymount University does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or of publication rights held by the original author or artists or his/her heirs, assigns, or executors.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Series number, Box and Folder number, Jack and Bonita Granville Wrather Papers, CSLA-23, Department of Archives and Special Collections, William H. Hannon Library, Loyola Marymount University.

    Acquisition Information

    Gift of Molly Dolle, Chris Wrather, and Linda Finocchiaro. Accession number: 2003.4.

    Processing Information

    Processed by Clay Stalls and Susan Jones.

    Biography

    Bonita Granville Wrather was born in 1923 in New York City to Bernard Granville and Rosina Granville (neé Timponi). Bonita's lineage was rich in the field of the arts and entertainment: her maternal grandmother had been a ballerina for the Ballet Russe of Monaco, and her maternal grandfather conducted at the famed La Scala opera house of Milan, Italy. Father Bernard was a regular on the vaudeville stage of New York, talented and popular enough to appear in the top end of that venue, the famous Ziegfeld Follies. It was from her father that Bonita came by the nickname "Bunny."
    The erosion of the Granvilles' fortunes because of the Great Depression brought a move to Los Angeles from New York in hopes of improving the family's lot. Bernard's career is obscure after this move, but that of his precocious daughter is not. By 1932, at the age of nine, she gained her first movie role, in "Westward Passage," after which she began to earn minor parts in other movies, including one in the 1933 Oscar winner for best picture, "Cavalcade." Her portrayal of the mendacious student in Director William Wyler's "These Three" earned her a 1936 Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress and confirmed her as one of the top child stars in Hollywood, and as one whose roles had bite. Bonita Granville's turn in this film and others such as "Maid of Salem" marked her as one of Hollywood's more memorable "brats." In the early 1940s, Bonita Granville Wrather landed strong supporting roles in such films as the Bette Davis vehicle "Now Voyager" (1942) and the film noir classic "The Glass Key" (1942). Her most memorable role in the 1940s came in the propaganda masterpiece from RKO Radio Pictures, "Hitler's Children" (1943), as the heroine who resists the evil of National Socialism.
    Bonita Granville met Jack Wrather, a native Texan with a considerable oil business, in 1946, and the two would marry in 1947. The couple had two children, Christopher and Linda. Her film roles had begun to decrease at this point, although she did star in the Jack Wrather productions "The Guilty" (1947), and "Strike It Rich" (1948). Bonita Granville also appeared in dramatic television productions such as Playhouse 90 and Studio One in the 1950s. Her husband's acquisition of the television properties "Lassie," "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon," and "The Lone Ranger" would result in her move into production. She assumed the position of associate producer of "Lassie" in 1958; later she became the show's executive producer, thus playing a considerable role in fostering the success of one of television's longest running and most successful programs.
    Bonita Granville Wrather's professional activities and successes extended beyond the field of television production. In 1968 she became a member of the board of the Wrather Corporation, the company run by her husband, and which oversaw all of her and her husband's enterprises. After the death of her husband (1984), Bonita Granville Wrather assumed the chair of the board of the Wrather Corporation, and directed the numerous business enterprises of the company until its sale to the Disney Corporation in 1988. In recognition of her talent and success, she received a presidential appointment in 1972 to the board of trustees of the Kennedy Center, the steward of the cultural riches of the United States. In another signal acknowledgment of her professional expertise and leadership skills, Bonita Granville Wrather served as chair of the American Film Institute from 1986 to 1988. Besides her significant accomplishments in business and entertainment, Bonita Granville Wrather was a leader in charity and civic causes, serving on the boards of the Los Angeles Orphanage Guild and the Children's Bureau of Los Angeles, on the Board of Trustees of Loyola Marymount University, on an advisory council of KCET-TV, and on the founders' board of the Los Angeles Music Center. Bonita Granville Wrather died in 1988.
    Jack (John Devereaux) Wrather, Jr., was born in Amarillo, Texas, in 1918 to J. D. (John Devereaux), Sr., and Mazie Wrather, the former an important player in the development of Texas oil fields, and the latter descended from a prominent Texas family, the Cogdells. As a youth, the junior Wrather made several moves, living in, among other places, Long Beach, California, before graduating from high school in Tyler, Texas, in 1935.
    Wrather attended the University of Texas, from which he graduated in 1939, starting a life-long relationship of service to the university. After graduation, in a highly publicized courtship and wedding, he married Molly O'Daniel in 1941, the daughter of Texas governor Wilbert Lee ("Pappy") O'Daniel. The couple had two children (John D., III, "Jack"; and Molly) but would begin divorce proceedings in 1946.
    He worked for the Overton Refining Company, his family's oil business, and upon his father's illness, became president (1940). Service in World War II as a United States Marine Corps officer (1942-1945) disrupted this work, but following his release from active duty in 1945, Jack Wrather resumed oversight of the family oil business and managed its development into the Wrather Petroleum Corporation, which he ran as president until 1957.
    While increasing his family's oil fortunes, Wrather began to diversify his business interests, displaying the hallmark entrepreneurial character that would lead to a multi-million dollar business empire. Establishing residences both in Los Angeles and Dallas, he moved into the entertainment and leisure field on the hunch that Americans were ready to spend their dollars in these areas after the hardships of World War II. In 1946, he began the production of movies through his Jack Wrather Productions, Inc.; his company produced several "B" pictures for the"Poverty Row Studio" Monogram.
    Astutely recognizing the potential of the new television industry of the post-World War II era, Jack Wrather steadily began iin the 1950s to acquire style memorable and highly successful television properties, which would be organized under his Wrather Television Productions. Those storied icons of American pop culture Lassie and The Lone Ranger were acquired in 1956 and 1954 respectively as television programs; in 1957 Wrather also purchased "Sergeant Preston of the Yukon," another successful television program. His skillful handling, with noticeable input from Bonita Granville Wrather, of "Lassie" and "The Lone Ranger" ensured not only their continued place in American entertainment but also a newfound growth in their popularity.
    A correlative venture was Wrather's purchase of television stations in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Bakersfield, California; San Diego, California, and other places. Continuing his cultivation of the television business, in 1958, Wrather founded, with his partner Associated Television Ltd. of England, International Television Corporation, which became a leading company in the distribution of television programs. Radio station WNEW of New York became a Wrather holding in 1955. Acquired in 1957 Muzak was, at that time, of one the country's largest record libraries and an innovator in the development of elevator music. In short, Jack Wrather had created a broadcasting empire. In the area of public television Jack Wrather had a distinguished niche as well, founding KCET-TV of Los Angeles, and serving on the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (1970-1974).
    Besides broadcasting, Jack Wrather also spearheaded major developments in the field of leisure. Walt Disney tabbed him to develop the Disneyland Hotel, which Wrather successfully did in 1955 to the astonishment of the many who had predicted that the venture would fail.
    All these ventures were part, or would be placed under the umbrella, of the Wrather Corporation, which became a publicly owned company in 1961. One of the major achievements of the Wrather Corporation was the rejuvenation of the Queen Mary properties in Long Beach, California, beginning in 1980 and the creation of Howard Hughes's Spruce Goose as a companion entertainment and tourist attraction (1983).
    In politics, Wrather is best known as a member of Ronald Reagan's "Kitchen Cabinet," which advised the California governor and spurred his run for the presidency. Wrather served President Reagan as a member of his transition team in 1981.
    One of the major enterpeneurs in the United States in the post-World War II era, Jack Wrather died in 1984. Wrather had married Bonita Granville in 1947, and the couple had two children, Christopher and Linda.

    Chronology

    1919 Jack Wrather born in Amarillo, Texas, to J. D. (John Devereaux), Sr., and Mazie Wrather.
    1923 Bonita Granville born in New York City.
    1932 At the age of nine, Bonita Granville Wrather appears in her first movie, "Westward Passage."
    1936 Bonita Granville Wrather's role in William Wyler's "These Three" earns her a 1936 Academy Award nomination for best supporting actress.
    1935 Jack Wrather graduates from high school in Tyler, Texas.
    1939 Jack Wrather graduates from the University of Texas in 1939, starting a life-long relationship of service to the university.
    1940 Jack Wrather assumes presidency of his family's oil business (Overton Refining Company) beacues of illness of his father, J. D. (John Devereaux), Sr.
    1941 Jack Wrather marries Molly O'Daniel, daughter of Texas governor Wilbert Lee ("Pappy") O'Daniel.
    1942-1945 Jack Wrather serves in the United States Marine Corps in World War II.
    1943 Bonita Granville Wrather stars in "Hitler's Children," her most memorable role in the 1940s.
    1946 Establishing residences both in Los Angeles and Dallas, Jack Wrather begins the production of movies through his Jack Wrather Productions, Inc.; his company produces several "B" pictures for the "Poverty Row Studio" Monogram.
    1946 Jack and Molly Wrather (O'Daniel) begin divorce proceedings, leading to their eventual divorce.
    1947 Jack Wrather and Bonita Granville marry in Los Angeles.
    1947, 1948 Bonita Granville Wrather stars in the Jack Wrather productions "The Guilty" (1947), and "Strike It Rich" (1948).
    1954 Jack Wrather acquires "Lassie" property.
    1955 Jack Wrather completes construction of the Disneyland Hotel.
    1956 Jack Wrather acquires "Lone Ranger" property.
    1958 Bonita Granville Wrather assumes the position of associate producer of "Lassie"; she later becomes executive producer.
    1972 Bonita Granville Wrather receives a presidential appointment to the board of trustees of the Kennedy Center.
    1983 Jack Wrather acquires the "Spruce Goose" and the Queen Mary, both in Long Beach.
    1984 Jack Wrather dies; Bonita Granville Wrather assumes the chair of the board of the Wrather Corporation.
    1986-1988 Bonita Granville Wrather serves as chair of the American Film Institute.
    1988 Wrather Company sold to the Walt Disney Company.
    1988 Bonita Granville Wrather dies.

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Wrather Papers consist of textual and non-textual materials dating from the period 1890 to 1990. The bulk dates of the materials are 1950-1988. Textual holdings includes business and personal correspondence, scripts, business memoranda, organizational and administrative records such as budgets, magazine and newspaper articles, scrolls, scrapbooks, and certificates. The language of all materials is English. The non-textual materials are sizable and consist of ephemera, especially movie memorabilia; photographs; personal effects; videocassettes; plaques; and books. The children of Jack and Bonita Granville Wrather--Molly Dolle, Chris Wrather, and Linda Finocchiaro--donated these materials to LMU in 2003.
    The collection has a strong run of materials related to the Wrathers' entertainment interests, highlighted by Bonita Granville Wrather's files on the production of the Lassie television series (Series 2) and the Wrathers' production of a Lassie movie in 1977 (Series 2, Subseries D). Also valuable are the production files and scripts from Jack Wrather's movie projects in the late 1940s (Series 1, Subseries D) and the files on the revival of the Lone Ranger as a feature movie in 1981 (Series 1, Subseries C). Jack Wrather's subject files (Series 1, Subseries B) contain information, though limited, on such business ventures as Muzak and on his role in Ronald Reagan's Kitchen Cabinet. This subseries also provides some evidence on the development of Jack Wrather's various businesses into the Wrather Corporation. Further information on the Wrather Corporation and its business interests can be found in Series 5.
    Some material has been removed because it contains medical information or social security numbers. Other materials, because of fragility, have been replaced with photocopies for research use. This is especially true of the correspondence of J. D. Wrather, Sr., related to his oil business, found in Series 8, Subseries A.

    Arrangement

    The Jack and Bonita Granville Wrather Papers have been organized into the twelve series described below. Subject matter may cross over series' lines. For example, materials related to the production of "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" are found both in Series 1: Jack Wrather and Series 2: Bonita Granville Wrather, because both Wrathers kept records related to the production of this movie. Series 3: Photographs and Series 4: Ephemera contain information on the Wrathers' entertainment properties, complementing that found in other series.
    • Series 1: Jack Wrather. Subseries A: Jack Wrather Speeches
    • Series 1: Jack Wrather. Subseries B: Jack Wrather Subject Files
    • Series 1: Jack Wrather. Subseries C: The Legend of the Lone Ranger Film Production
    • Series 1: Jack Wrather. Subseries D: Jack Wrather Productions, Inc.
    • Series 2: Bonita Granville Wrather. Subseries A: Bonita Granville Wrather Subject Files
    • Series 2: Bonita Granville Wrather. Subseries B: Bonita Granville Wrather Movie Career
    • Series 2: Bonita Granville Wrather. Subseries C: Wrather Corporation Television/Wrather Entertainment International
    • Series 2: Bonita Granville Wrather. Subseries D: The Magic of Lassie Movie Production
    • Series 2: Bonita Granville Wrather. Subseries E: Lassie Television Productions
    • Series 2: Bonita Granville Wrather. Subseries F: American Film Institute
    • Series 2: Bonita Granville Wrather. Subseries G: Bonita Granville Wrather Speeches
    • Series 2: Bonita Granville Wrather. Subseries H: The Legend of the Lone Ranger Film Production
    • Series 3: Photographs. Subseries A: Photographs With Captions
    • Series 3: Photographs. Subseries B: Photographs Without Captions
    • Series 3: Photographs. Subseries C: Negatives
    • Series 3: Photographs. Subseries D: The Legend of the Lone Ranger Film Production
    • Series 3: Photographs. Subseries E: Slides and Film
    • Series 4: Ephemera
    • Series 5: Wrather Business and Entertainment Interests
    • Series 6: Correspondence
    • Series 7: Jack and Bonita Granville Wrather Funeral Materials
    • Series 8: Granville/Wrather Family History
    • Series 9: Reagan Presidential Inaugurations
    • Series 10: Yacht Records
    • Series 11: Videocassettes
    • Series 12: Day Planners

    Indexing Terms

    The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.
    Wrather, Jack
    Wrather, Bonita Granville 1923-1988
    Wrather, Jack -- Archives
    Wrather, Bonita Granville, 1923-1988 -- Archives
    Reagan, Ronald -- Friends and associates
    Television producers and directors -- United States -- Biography -- Sources
    Women television producers and directors -- United States -- Biography -- Sources
    Motion picture actors and actresses -- United States -- Biography -- Sources
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- History -- 20th century -- Sources
    Los Angeles (Calif.) -- Politics and government -- 1951- -- Sources

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