What Do "Prettiest Teacher in U.S.," James Bonham Elementary, Candy Barr, Watergate and SMU Death Penalty Have in Common? This.

NellOwen.JPG
eBay seller "historicimages05"
Nell Owen
Amidst all the ruckus over the Dallas Independent School District board's more-than-likely decision to close James B. Bonham Elementary, one thing's been overlooked: Its storied past as The School Where The Prettiest U.S. School Teacher once taught. That's a certifiable fact: In December 1952 speech teacher Nell Owen was named "Prettiest U.S. School Teacher" in a contest sponsored by CBS and announced during the prime-time radio broadcast of Our Miss Brooks on December 21, 1952 (during the "Magic Christmas Tree" episode, to be specific, which you can listen to here sans the hullabaloo). Why, she even made it onto the cover of Life magazine, where she was the subject of a lengthy and flattering profile that described her "as durable as she is fetching."

I didn't know anything about this forgotten footnote till Friend of Unfair Park PeterK dispatched the heads-up that there's an original United Press photo of Owen for sale on eBay. No one has yet submitted a bid with five hours left; it's all of $9.99. And because that's what we do -- Peter especially, his having logged many hours as a researcher at the Dallas Public Library years ago -- we discovered there's more, much more, to her tale. For instance ...

Here, from the Life spread, is a photo of Nell and her husband, one George Washington Owen Jr., ringing in the new year following The Big Announcement. They were married at Highland Park Methodist Church in June 1951, when then-Nell McGrew of Rotan (outside Abilene) and George, who'd graduated from Crozier Tech, were seniors at SMU. A year later Nell won her award. But in years to come, Owen would become infamous. As Doug Bedell summed it up in his December 7, 1986, sit-down with Owen, who refused to mention first wife Nell and those who followed:
In the late 1950s, Owen was the mysterious boyfriend of Candy Barr and narrowly avoided going to jail when Dallas police arrested the famed stripper for possession of marijuana. In the '60s, the former SMU athlete survived the acrimonious crash of his marriage to a stewardess named Maureen Kane, who would later become Maureen Dean, wife of Watergate defendant John Dean. "Mo" would essentially come to accuse Owen of bigamy.

And in the '70s, there was an inconclusive federal grand jury investigation into a Dallas-Las Vegas gambling link about which Owen was questioned. In August 1985, George Owen was banned by the NCAA from any involvement with SMU athletics. Last month, The Dallas Morning News reported that Owen had provided a rent-free apartment to Albert Reese, a current SMU football player.
Concerning his involvement with his alma mater, Owen's name is all over the 1987 Bishops' Committee Report on SMU that details the events leading to the NCAA handing down the death penalty. He died on July 21, 2000. Nell, who married a man named Pete Johnson in 1967, died nine years later. Said her obituary, which mentions the former model's flirtation with fame and her decision to give up the glamorous life for teaching in the DISD: "Nell was a beautiful person, quick-witted and fiercely loyal." Both she and George are buried at Restland.
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15 comments
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NONE
NONE

Candy Barr was nothing compared with Chris Colt!

If this woman Owens had been today, and teaching in Florida...no doubt she would be a candidate for Teacher on Student sexcapades....one can only dream....

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

So, did he give money to Craig James???

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

... no but Craig James killed ... (no, that's too easy)

pak152
pak152

whole thing makes JR Ewing look like a piker

LaceyB
LaceyB

there are a bunch of porn names in this article. Deep throat, candy barr, etc., a private school, a guy who rents out apartments for "favors" of some type to stay involved (Owens). You could look at it as great 50's Dallas lore that'll take Robert 10 yrs to write before making its way to the Half-Price Book Stacks.

OR

A cash cow porn remake starring Stormy Daniels on Blu-Ray that'll be out in 6-8 mos. I know where I'd bet the advance on.

Kevin Kirby
Kevin Kirby

"6-8 mos?" More like six or eight days.

DuckDuckGoose
DuckDuckGoose

A quick Google finds a few other tales of Owens:

"During the mid-'60s, as Owen approached 40, another friendly association resulted in a new, full-time sports job. Oilman John Mecom had acquired a pro football franchise for New Orleans. He invited Owen to work in his front office, signing players. Running back Paul Hornung, finishing out his career with the fledgling team, became Owen's roommate."

"Dallas, 1974. Owen ran into more trouble, but once again he wriggled free with little more than a brief mention in local newspapers. A federal grand jury subpoenaed Owen -- along with restaurant owner Joseph Campisi"

"Lyndon Johnson's longtime mistress, Madeleine Duncan Brown had stated that a friend of hers (she called him George Owens) had been at the social event thrown by Clint W. Murchison, Jr. on the night of November 21, 1963, and that George had admitted to her that he had actually driven to the airport and picked up J. Edgar Hoover that afternoon. If that is true ...  then that would just possibly connect Lyndon Johnson's mob-loving friends not only to the killing of JFK, but also to the plot that triggered Watergate."

My God. It's Dallas' version of Forrest Gump. He was EVERYWHERE ...

Mullen3
Mullen3

Name the book:  Owen Country Sausage.

Robert Wilonsky
Robert Wilonsky

That "Owen would become infamous" link provides all the outline one would need for his story. And his kids are around ... Hunh. Well, OK. This job's been fun. Found my first book.

KyleChandlersHair
KyleChandlersHair

Get Kyle Chandler to put an option on it NOW (since it looks like any Rick Perry as President movie won't be happening).

Montemalone
Montemalone

Why not, sci-fi is a perennial fave.

pak152
pak152

Really good one, potential for a solid Dallas novel here. you got 1950s dallas, jack ruby, sports scandal, watergate and who knows what else

Claytonauger
Claytonauger

Candy Barr, and Mo Dean and Miss Nell? Guy must have had something. Too bad folks like that don't write their memoirs.

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