A Hunt for the Great Texas Oil Fortunes

In January, Penguin Press will publish Bryan Burrough's The Big Rich: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Texas Oil Fortunes, about such men as H. L. Hunt, Clint Murchison, Hugh Roy Cullen and Glenn McCarthy, the latter of whom was more or less the inspiration for James Dean's Jett Rink in the 1956 film Giant. In its latest issue, Vanity Fair excerpts the book, focusing mostly on Houston's McCarthy. But Hunt, whose crazy self-published 1965 compendium of columns titled Hunt for Truth sits on a shelf in Unfair Park HQ, does make an extended cameo in the excerpt:

The first hint of impending change came on a cool, windy afternoon in February 1948, when Hunt, wearing an off-the-rack tan gabardine suit and gray fedora, emerged from the Mercantile National Bank building onto the sidewalk along Commerce Street in downtown Dallas. He was on his way to a card game at the Baker Hotel. When he reached Ervay Street, he stopped for a red light. Suddenly a man rushed up, lifted a camera, and snapped a photo. Before Hunt could react, the man disappeared into the crowds. Hunt headed on, thinking the man was taking a picture of the building behind him.

Turns out, it was a Life photographer, who was grabbing his photo for a story that appeared in the April 5, 1948, issue -- just above the headline, "Is This the Richest Man in America?" --Robert Wilonsky

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