The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

plays a significant role for most of these authors. Education, both formal and in-
formal, represents another common thread in these works. And not to be forgot-
ten, racism and its many manifestations remain a consistent theme.
This Stubborn Self." Texas Autobiographies provides a worthwhile examination of
these authors. Almon states that future autobiographical works will emerge from
other ethnic groups as the state continues to diversify. And these may come from
individuals who view "being a Texan as no more significant than being a Penn-
sylvanian or a Nebraskan" (p. 357). While not an exhaustive study of Texas liter-
ary figures, the volume represents a significant work on those who provide
different perspectives on the diverse and changing region.
The Unzversity of Texas at Austin Patrick Cox
John Rosenfield's Dallas. By Ronald L. Davis. (Dallas: Three Forks Press, 2002. Pp.
xii+337. Preface, selected columns and reviews, bibliographical essay, index.
ISBN 1-893451-06-2. $28.oo, cloth.)
He was a literate, charming, curious, energetic, hardworking, intense, and in-
formative newspaper critic who prodded Dallas toward a more sophisticated ap-
preciation of the arts in the middle portion of the twentieth century. John
Rosenfield was born to a successful Jewish family in South Dallas in 1900oo, attend-
ed Columbia University, and fell in love with opera while in New York City. He
dropped out of school, worked as a part-time movie reporter, and took a job as a
publicity agent for Paramount Pictures. He married Claire Burger, a Columbia
student interested in painting and sculpture, and returned to Dallas in 1923.
When she first saw Dallas in the hot August sun she thought, "Oh, my God, what
am I doing here?" (p. 12). Her husband, nonetheless, shortly took a job with the
Dallas Morning News and from 1925 to 1966 edited the amusements section of
the paper while writing a daily column, "The Passing Show."
Rosenfield mainly reviewed movies, plays, operas, and music. He educated
himself and his readers about cultural matters in order to make Dallas the cen-
ter of good taste and refinement in the Southwest. With newspaper commentary
and with personal contacts Rosenfield played a developmental role in the Dallas
Symphony, the opera company, summer musicals, and various theater projects.
For example, he encouraged Margo Jones and her innovative efforts to bring
new plays to the stage, and he convinced Eli Sanger, a leading Dallas clothing
merchant, to sponsor an annual concert series called Civic Music. Motivated by a
desire to help Dallas and persuaded by Rosenfield, Sanger remained president
of the organization for twenty years even though he never bothered to listen to
the performances. Instead, Sanger sat in the lobby and talked to the doorman.
By the end of the 1930s, actors, musicians, and theatrical producers recog-
nized Rosenfield as an important element for their success or defeat. The Dallas
Morning News gave him free reign over the amusements segment of the paper
and he ran it like an ill-tempered tyrant. He hated the city of Houston, rival news
critics, and people who disagreed with him. But he loved talking and drinking
with friends and visiting artists. His expansive appetites led to an expanded waist-
line and he was known surreptitiously as "Mr. Five-by-Five" or "Round Man" (p.
149). Author Ronald L. Davis used the word "Falstaffian" to describe Rosenfield

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 107, July 2003 - April, 2004. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101224/. Accessed December 28, 2014.