The G. William Jones Film & Video Collection, Hamon Arts Library, is pleased to announce a new donation of film materials and memorabilia, including rare laserdiscs, from the collection of the late Robert Holladay (1940-2019). Known as “Mr. Paramount of Abilene,” Holladay was the Film Director of the historic Paramount Theatre in Abilene. He was passionate about film and the theatre, a scholar with a vast knowledge which he shared with countless students in his 42 years as a high school teacher in Abilene. Several of his students went on to careers in film, including actor and producer Jess Cagle. Michelle Brookshire, SMU Libraries Executive Board member, said “Abilene, Texas has lost an extraordinarily important patron of film, literature, and the arts.”
In 1940, Holladay attended his first film at the Paramount Theatre with his parents at three weeks old. By coincidence, the Paul Adair Collection of interstate film ledgers for Texas, also in the Jones Film & Video Collection, provides an index of what films were shown in Abilene this same year. He became a longtime champion of the theatre and pushed for saving and restoring the historic icon in the 1980s. He ran the Paramount Film Series and entertained smaller audiences in his home with screenings from his 16mm film collection. With a vast knowledge and deep love of film and film history, Mr. Holladay counted Raintree County and the 1927 film Napoleon by Abel Gance as amongst his favorites.
The Laserdisc collection is an especially important donation from Mr. Holladay’s family, highlighting an important moment in media history as the format introduced supplemental materials for these films, including deleted scenes, electronic press kits (EPKs), and audio commentaries, to consumers for the very first time. This essentially brought a type of film school into the viewer’s very own home. Many of these additional resources are unique to their laserdisc pressing, never making their way to subsequent formats, and thus are in desperate need of preservation by the Jones Film and Video Collection.
Jolene de Verges, Director, Hamon Arts Library; Jeremy Spracklen, Moving Image Curator; and Scott Martin, Moving Image Curatorial Assistant, Jones Film & Video Collection