On this day in 1977, legendary actress Joan Crawford died of a heart attack at her home in New York. Crawford was born Lucille LeSeur in San Antonio in 1906. As a teenager, she caught the eye of a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer talent scout and moved to Hollywood in 1925. MGM head Louis B. Mayer launched a fan-magazine contest to find her a new name. The result was "Joan Crawford," a name she never liked. Her career with MGM stretched from 1925 to 1942, and she became one of that company's biggest stars. In 1942 she moved to rival Warner Brothers and revived her career by playing strong-willed maternal figures, as in Mildred Pierce (1945), for which she won the Academy Award for best actress. In all, her film career spanned more than forty years and included performances in more than eighty films. She was married four times and adopted four children who later claimed that she treated them harshly. A year after her death her daughter Christina published Mommie Dearest, a scathing autobiography of growing up as an abused child.
On this day in 1979, the city of Dallas declared the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas a historic landmark. Among the civic leaders who helped secure a Federal Reserve branch for Dallas in 1914 were G. B. Dealey, Walter F. McCaleb, Nathan Adams, and Hatton W. Sumners. The Dallas Fed, designed by the Chicago firm of Graham, Anderson, Probost, and White in the Neoclassical style of the Beaux Arts School, opened in 1921. It serves the Eleventh Federal Reserve District, which covers approximately 350,000 square miles and includes Texas, northern Louisiana, and southern New Mexico. Like the other reserve banks, the Dallas Fed is primarily a "banker's bank." It serves as a bank for financial institutions in basically the same way commercial banks and thrift institutions serve the public. Financial institutions send their excess currency and coin to the Fed, where the money is verified, sorted, and stored until it is needed to fill new orders.
On this day in 1893, a group of writers attending the Texas Press Association meeting in Dallas formed the Texas Woman's Press Association, which later became Texas Press Women. The group was led by Aurelia H. Mohl of Houston. Its purpose was to encourage Texas woman writers and illustrators through organized activities and communication with similar groups. Thirty-eight women, representing eighteen Texas towns, became charter members. Membership was originally restricted to whites. At the time, there were few other statewide women's groups in Texas. The Texas Equal Rights Association, the first statewide female suffrage organization, was founded on the same day and in the same hotel, the Windsor. The TERA was committed to securing voting and political rights for women on the same terms as men, including the right to hold political office and serve on juries.
In its issue for this day in 1937, Life magazine wrote up Mary Lucy Kyle Hartson as the only woman mayor in Texas. The 72-year-old great-grandmother was elected mayor of Kyle by a write-in vote that year. From 1937 until 1941 and from 1944 until 1946 she held office. Along with the "all-woman" city council elected in 1944, she made "Ripley's Believe It or Not." During Mrs. Hartson's mayoralty, the town built a municipal water system, installed street lights, updated the fire department, and kept the city clean. Of her administration she said, "We balanced the budget, and cleaned up the town. Then when everything was under control, I retired."