(b. 1935) – Longtime Central Arkansas news anchor, Sams is one of the most recognizable faces in the state. B.J. has worked in broadcasting for more than 50 years, 32 of them in the Little Rock market. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Business and Administration degree. After graduation he entered the U.S. Army where he took basic training at Fort Hood, Texas with Elvis Presley. He began his broadcasting career in 1964 at KTVE in Monroe, Louisiana. He then came to Little Rock to work for KATV as anchor in 1966. In 1973, he moved to Honolulu, Hawaii where he worked for nine years. Sams returned to Arkansas in 1982 to work for KTHV where he remains today. For the past 10 years, he has worked the top morning show in the state along with former co-host Robyn Richardson and Tom Brannon. He continues those duties with Brannon and Alyson Courtney. The Associated Press presented Sams their Broadcaster of the Year award in 2000. On his 50th anniversary in broadcasting, KTHV renamed the studio in his honor. www.todaysthv.com/company/bios
(b. 1937) – Actress who played Dennis Weaver’s wife in the 1966-68 television series “Gentle Ben”. This award-winning film producer was born in Brinkley, raised in Pine Bluff and Camden, and now divides her time between Little Rock and Los Angeles, CA. Ms. Brickell also appeared in “Marcus Welby, M.D.” and “Dan August.” The film, “Summers End,” written, directed and produced by Brickell won numerous awards. It is the story of a young girl in a small Arkansas town during the last days of summer in 1948. She enjoys the same things as boys including baseball, and playing marbles and pirates. She finds herself the focus of a family crisis when her mother insists it is time that she becomes “a girl.” Her father who has always encouraged her individuality is caught in the middle. www.luminousfilms.net
(1925-1997) – Born in Little Rock, Gail Davis was known to millions as television’s Annie Oakley in the 1950s. The series ran on ABC from 1955 through 1958 and was seen in reruns well into the 1960s. It was the first western to star a woman. The show was created for Davis by “singing cowboy” Gene Autry, who she had previously appeared with in several westerns. After the series ended, Davis continued to make personal appearances with Autry. She also appeared in TV specials, including “Wide, Wide World: The Western,” in 1958, a “Bob Hope Special” in 1959 and “The Andy Griffith Show: The Perfect Female,” in 1961. www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net
(b. 1943) – Little Rock native Gil Gerard rocketed to fame as Buck Rogers in the NBC television series, “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,” from 1979 to 1981. He has also starred in numerous made-for-television movies and feature films. Gil headed to New York in the summer of 1969 where he trained at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Shortly thereafter, he won an audition for the movie “Love Story,” which was followed by over 400 commercials for various national accounts, including Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Co., and Procter & Gamble. Gerard was also a member of the cast of the Emmy Award winning “The Doctors,” daytime drama, playing the part of Dr. Alan Stewart for over three years. During this time, Hollywood called and he guest-starred in an episode of the television series “Baretta” and appeared in the role of Lee Grant’s lover in the motion picture “Airport ‘77.” After landing a guest starring role on “Little House on the Prairie,” Michael Landon offered him the lead in a new series, “Stone.” The show was never aired by NBC, but Gerard was offered the title role in the feature film and television show “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.” www.gilgerard.com
(b. 1923) – Though not a native Arkansan, Mitchell now chooses to call Arkansas home. The self-taught drummer had his first professional gig when he was hired at age 17 by Harry Barry to be the featured boy drummer in an otherwise all-girl orchestra. His first introduction to The Natural State came during the 1940s when stationed at Eaker Air Force Base in Blytheville. He continued his military and musical career when he was transferred to a base in Sebring, FL, then Smyrna, TN. After the war, Mitchell worked as an exporter for 30 years and continued to play in various bands. When not overseas, he worked with bands in Chicago and appeared with such entertainers as Eddie Fisher, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, The McGuire Sisters, Joey Bishop, Bob Newhart, Isaac Stern, Gregory Hines, Regis Philbin and Tony Bennett. Mitchell retired from business and moved to Bella Vista in 1988. He joined the Bella Vista Big Band, becoming leader in 1990. Under his tutelage, the band performed for both of former President Bill Clinton’s inaugural balls in 1993 and 1997 in Washington, DC. He continues to reside in Northwest Arkansas and leads several bands, ranging from small combos to his big band and the Praise gospel band. www.jackmitchellbands.com.
(b. 1934) – Fort Smith is where actor Laurence Luckinbill was born. He studied acting at the University of Arkansas where he appeared in nine student productions. Luckinbill made his professional debut at the Carnegie Playhouse in New York as the Old Shepherd in “Oedipus Rex.” His theatrical career includes roles in “Othello,” “A Man for All Seasons,” “Galileo” and “Death of a Salesman” among others. Luckinbill reprised his role of Hank in the critically acclaimed film version of “The Boys in the Band” in 1970. He went on to appear in “Such Good Friends,” the made-for-television movie “Ike,” “Cocktail” and “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.” Luckinbill is married to Lucie Arnaz, daughter of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. www.hollywood.com/celebrity/Laurence_Luckinbill
(b. 1958) – The owner and founder of The Agency, Inc., Sarah was born in 1958 in Conway. Her involvement with the entertainment industry began as a self-employed freelance make-up artist for film and video production. Recognizing a production void for a consolidated source of models and actors to efficiently cast projects, Tackett began to enlist local talent while looking for new faces to provide a well-rounded pool for client casting needs. The Agency, Incorporated was introduced to area production companies, advertising agencies, and photographers as Arkansas’ first full-service professional talent, modeling, and casting agency in 1984. She has since provided location casting for over 20 films throughout the south including over 350 principle roles and extras in excess of 20,000. She has worked for award-winning directors including Billy Bob Thornton (“Slingblade”), Mike Nichols (“Biloxi Blues”), and Ray McKinnon (“Chrystal”). www.theagencyinc.com
(b. 1939) – Newport native, Burgess is best known as one of the original rock and roll recording artists for Sun Records in Memphis, and as one of the pioneers of rock and roll. In the early-to-mid 1950s, he headed-up bands known by several names including the Rocky Road Ramblers, the Moonlighters and later The Pacers. While known as the Moonlighters (for the Silver Moon Club in Newport where they performed regularly), the group shared the circuit club stage with many up-and-coming performers such as Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Charlie Rich, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Conway Twitty. The Moonlighters opened for Presley performances four times. Sonny Burgess and The Pacers continued to record for Sun Records until 1959. Burgess was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame of Europe in 1999. In 1998, the Smithsonian Institute made a video called “Rockin’ on the River” that brought Burgess and the Legendary Pacers together again. In 2002, they were inducted into the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in Jackson, Tennessee. www.legendarypacers.com