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Two Recent Gifts Expand Special Collections of Hamon Arts Library At SMU

Linda Darnell

DALLAS (SMU) — Two recent gifts will expand the special collections housed in the Jake and Nancy Hamon Arts Library at SMU. A gift of personal materials from the estate of Dallas philanthropist and arts patron Nancy Hamon includes $1 million to endow, preserve and exhibit the collection. In addition, a planned estate gift of movie archives valued at $1.5 million has been made by film historian and collector Jeff Gordon.

Dallasites will receive a preview of the Gordon collection through an exhibition, “Linda Darnell from Dallas to Hollywood: Selections from the Jeff Gordon Collection,” on view from Feb. 3 to May 17 in the Hawn Gallery of the Hamon Arts Library. A preview reception at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 8, will be followed by a lecture by Jeff Gordon at 7 p.m. in the Hamon Arts Library. RSVP online at www.smu.edu/friends or by calling 214-768-3225.

Nancy Hamon, who died in 2011, provided $5 million in 1988 to establish the Hamon Arts Library at SMU, which opened in 1990. A branch of SMU’s Central University Libraries, it houses materials relevant to the visual, performing and communication arts in support of Meadows School of the Arts. Its archives include the G. William Jones Film and Video Collection, which will house the Gordon Collection, and the Jerry Bywaters Special Collections, where the Hamon materials are located.

“These two new collections will greatly enrich and broaden the holdings of the Hamon Arts Library,” said Gillian M. McCombs, dean and director of SMU’s Central University Libraries. “The Gordon gift will significantly increase our ability to support teaching and research in American film. And the Hamon Collection will draw researchers interested in Dallas history and the cultural history of the Southwest.”

The Gordon Collection
The Gordon collection bequeathed to SMU includes hundreds of original movie posters, over 1,000 other film-related advertising materials, more than 15,000 35-millimeter slides of movie memorabilia (some of which have already been delivered to SMU), several thousand original movie photos, a 16-millimeter film collection with more than 200 features, more than 20 Warner Bros. cartoons, 100 television programs and a large group of Elvis Presley materials. The Gordon archives focus primarily on movies made from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Although the entire collection will not be transferred to SMU until a future date, Gordon is curating the Linda Darnell exhibition as a sneak preview of his collection. The exhibition will include posters, photographs and materials from recently acquired scrapbooks of Darnell, a Dallas native who grew up in Oak Cliff and became a major movie star in the 1940s. She starred in cinema classics with leading men including Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, Kirk Douglas and Robert Mitchum. Her career peaked with Forever Amber in 1947. She later appeared on television and stage before her tragic death in a house fire in 1965.

Gordon’s interest in film dates back to his childhood. He earned degrees in film production and cinema studies at New York University. In 1984 he formed Jagarts, a business dealing with the history of American movies. Since 2004 he has operated a film group in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is the author of Foxy Lady: The Authorized Biography of Lynn Bari, and has written for several entertainment-oriented publications.

The Hamon Collection
The Hamon materials include photograph albums, diaries, records of Nancy Hamon’s elaborate theme parties in the 1950s and ’60s, memorabilia, personal correspondence with seven U.S. presidents and other prominent leaders, and materials related to her husband’s long career in the oil business. Among highlights of the collection are photos of the Hamons’ trip to China with George H.W. and Barbara Bush in the 1970s.

“Nancy Hamon had a profound impact on the arts at SMU and in Dallas,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are grateful to Jack Roach, executor of her estate, for his efforts in bringing this extraordinary collection to SMU and providing funds to maintain the collection.”

A native of San Antonio, Mrs. Hamon is remembered as a woman with a Texas-sized personality. She appeared in several Hollywood movies in the 1940s before marrying legendary oil wildcatter Jake Hamon in 1949. She provided multimillion-dollar support to SMU, including the Hamon Arts Library and Hamon Galleries in the Meadows Museum, and several Dallas medical and arts organizations. Her honors include an honorary Doctor of Arts degree from SMU in 2000 and the prestigious Linz Award for her humanitarian and civic efforts.

In 2013, as part of its Second Century Celebration, SMU will commemorate The Year of the Library — the 100th anniversary of the University’s library collections, which began to be acquired in 1913. In addition to marking historic milestones, the commemoration will recognize new commitments to update and expand the campus libraries. New gifts such as the Gordon and Hamon collections count toward Second Century Campaign goals, which include new investments for library facilities, endowments for acquisitions and library staff positions, and expansion of special collections.

SMU’s Second Century Campaign coincides with celebration of the 100th anniversary of the University’s founding in 1911 and its opening in 1915. To date, the campaign has raised $664.8 million toward a goal of $750 million to support student quality, faculty and academic excellence and the campus experience.

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