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.
Nancy Hamon, who died in 2011, provided $5 million in 1988 to establish the Hamon Arts Library, which opened in 1990. A branch of SMU’s Central University Libraries, it houses materials supporting the visual, performing and communication arts in 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.
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.
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, 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 curated a Linda Darnell exhibition at Hamon this spring as a sneak preview of his collection. The exhibition included 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. Her career peaked with Forever Amber in 1947.
Gordon, whose interest in film dates to his childhood, 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.