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Merrill Lee Connally, Sr.
County judge of Wilson County, Texas

In office
Preceded by Verner Monroe Butler
Succeeded by Dietrich Richard Voges
Personal details
Born (1921-04-09)April 9, 1921
Floresville, Wilson County, Texas, USA
Died September 4, 2001(2001-09-04) (aged 80)
Floresville, Texas
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Mary H. Connally (born 1930)
Children including Merrill Connally, Jr. (born 1956)
Occupation Actor, Rancher
Military service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch  United States Marine Corps
Battles/wars World War II

Merrill Lee Connally, Sr. (April 9, 1921 – September 4, 2001), was an American film actor, a county administrative judge,[1] a rancher, and a brother of both Governor John B. Connally, Jr. (1917–1993), and Texas State Senator Wayne Connally (1923–2000).

Connally was born, raised, and died in Floresville, the seat of Wilson County southeast of San Antonio. His parents were John Connally, Sr., a hard-working and industrious tenant farmer, and the former Lela Wright. The senior Connally once ran for Wilson County clerk. In addition to Wayne and John, Merrill had five other siblings.[2] Merrill Connally served in the United States Marine Corps during World War II.[3]

He portrayed Davy Crockett in the 1988 picture Alamo: The Price of Freedom. He also appeared in Steven Spielberg's Sugarland Express and Close Encounters of the Third Kind[4] In the filming of Close Encounters in 1977, Connally was known on the roll-call sheets as "The American Eagle" because of his shock of white hair and his authoritarian demeanor. He physically resembled his brother John. Spielberg was so impressed with Connally's diction that he kept taking lines of dialogue from other actors to give Connally a greater part.[5]

Other Connally film appearances were in Rush starring Jason Patric as a narcotics detective, and in Heaven and Hell: North & South: Book Three. In 1991, he played Judge Bolen in the television production Wild Texas Wind. He was an extra in the 1979 television film The Girls in the Office. On August 12, 1956, he appeared as himself as a contestant on John Daly's What's My Line? CBS quiz program in which a celebrity panel attempts to guess the occupation of the guest. Jimmy Carter of Georgia, before he was nationally-known also appeared on What's My Line?[5]

Connally served as the Wilson County judge from 1955 to 1958[6] and was involved in various Democratic activities. He was a delegate to the 1956 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, which nominated the Adlai E. Stevenson-Estes Kefauver ticket. In 1968, he managed the unsuccessful candidacy of Eugene Locke, who resigned as deputy ambassador to the former South Vietnam to seek to succeed Connally's brother as governor. John Connally professed neutrality in the primary because the lieutenant governor, Preston Smith, and the former appointed Texas secretary of state, John Luke Hill, an enthusiastic Connally supporter, were also in the running. The nomination and the general election went to Smith, who had made a fortune as a theater owner from Lubbock.[7]

Another brother, Golfrey M. Connally (born 1919 – deceased), an economics professor at then San Antonio Junior College, supported George S. McGovern for U.S. President in 1972, while brother John Connally was heading the national "Democrats for Nixon" committee.[7]

Connally died of lung cancer. He is interred at Fairview Cemetery in Wilson County.[8] The Connally Memorial Medical Center in his native Floresville is named for him and his brothers John and Wayne.[9]

Filmography[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Charles Ashman, Connally: The Adventures of Big Bad John, New York: William Morrow, 1974, pp. 131
  2. Ashman, Connally, pp. 50–51
  3. Jake by J.J. Pickle. Google Books. ISBN 978-0-292-76572-6. https://books.google.com/books?id=60DynX-lMKIC&pg=PA60&lpg=PA60&dq=Merrill+Connally&source=bl&ots=AUSlwhqGla&sig=pSOs5sa4pfQ_NdSX7lXSgBsXojY&hl=en&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=4&ct=result. Retrieved December 29, 2008. 
  4. Murphy, A.D. (November 9, 1977). "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Variety 100. http://www.variety.com/index.asp?layout=Variety100&reviewid=VE1117789972&content=jump&jump=review&category=1935&cs=1&p=0. Retrieved December 26, 2008. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Merrill Connally, List of credits". imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0174919/. Retrieved December 25, 2008. 
  6. Years confirmed by the office of the Wilson County, Texas county judge
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ashman, Connally, pp. 131–133
  8. "Merrill Lee Connally, Wilson County, Texas". findagrave.com. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=23918654. Retrieved December 25, 2008. 
  9. "Texas State Senate journals". journals.senate.state.tx.us. http://www.journals.senate.state.tx.us/sjrnl/79r/html/sj03-07-f.htm. Retrieved December 25, 2008. 
Political offices
Preceded by
Vernon Monroe Butler
County judge of Wilson County, Texas

Merrill Lee Connally, Sr.

Succeeded by
Dietrich Richard Voges

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