On this day in 1962, Guinn Williams Jr., who enjoyed a lengthy career as a character actor, died in Van Nuys, California. Williams, who was named for his congressman father, was born in 1899 in Decatur, Texas. In 1919 he went to Hollywood, where his good looks and horsemanship resulted in a contract with the Goldwyn studio. Williams became a successful character actor in a series of westerns during the 1920s, performing with such silent screen stars as Tom Mix and Will Rogers. It was Rogers who dubbed the Texan "Big Boy," a nickname that stayed with him throughout his life. Rogers and Williams became close friends, in part because of their love of horses. Throughout the 1920s Williams was a featured performer in the Will Rogers rodeo shows that toured the country. Unlike many of his silent-movie colleagues, Williams easily made the transition to the "talkies" in the 1930s. Although he continued to be cast in westerns, he also had supporting roles in comedies such as Bachelor Father (1931) and dramas such as The Glass Key (1935), A Star Is Born (1937), and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (1943). His last two films were the John Wayne vehicles The Alamo (1960) and The Comancheros (1962). Throughout his career Williams's trademark was the puzzled squint of the slow-witted cowhand who attempts to understand an involved situation or the amiable tough guy who is too kind-hearted to be mean.
On this day in 1540, Spanish viceroy Antonio de Mendoza appointed Francisco Vázquez de Coronado to lead an expedition in search of the fabulous Seven Cities of Cíbola. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca had described the cities in his 1536 report on his wanderings through New Spain, and Marcos de Niza had confirmed Cabeza de Vaca's report in 1539. Coronado and 1,000 men set out from Culiacán in late April. There was no gold at Cíbola (the Zuñi villages in western New Mexico), but he was led on by stories told by the captive El Turco of great rewards to be found in Quivira, a region on the Great Plains far to the east. Chasing this chimera occupied Coronado until the early part of 1542. When he returned to Mexico he was subjected to an official examination of his conduct as leader of the expedition and as governor of Nueva Galicia. He was cleared of charges in connection with the expedition, but on some of the other charges was fined and lost his commission. He died in 1554.
On this day in 1929, boxing promoter George Lewis (Tex) Rickard died of complications following an appendectomy. He grew up in Sherman, Texas, and as a youth worked the family cattle ranch. He was elected city marshall of Henrietta at age twenty-three, and during this time he also secured his reputation as an excellent poker player. His penchant for gambling drove Rickard’s business dealings for the rest of his life. He moved to Alaska and set up gaming houses in the Klondike but lost money in worthless gold claims. Subsequently he moved to California and then Nevada, where he had his first taste of professional boxing promotion. He staged his first title fight in 1906 and earned a profit from his second endeavor in 1910—a heavyweight bout between Jack Johnson and James J. Jeffries. A match at New York’s Madison Square Garden achieved an indoor gate record of $156,000 in 1916, and during the 1920s Rickard promoted a series of five matches featuring Jack Dempsey. All topped $1,000,000 in receipts. Rickard set up the Madison Square Garden Corporation and opened the new Madison Square Garden in 1925, acting as director of the sporting facility until his death.
On this day in 1918, Revista Católica, a Catholic newspaper and publishing house, relocated to new quarters at 1407 East Third Street in El Paso. Originally founded in Albuquerque, New Mexico, by Italian Jesuit Donato M. Gasparri, the newspaper operated in El Paso from 1918 to 1958. For many years Revista Católica was the sole Catholic weekly in Spanish in the western hemisphere. The press published a variety of religious materials that circulated throughout the American Southwest, Latin America, and widely overseas before it ceased operation in 1958.