Bud Shrake, 1931-2009
May 10, 2009 2:00 PM   Subscribe

Edwin "Bud" Shrake - journalist, novelist, playwright, and screenwriter - died early Friday in Austin.

Shrake and Dan Jenkins attended Paschal High School and TCU together before going on to careers as correspondents for Sports Illustrated and as novelists. Shrake’s 1965 SI piece about LBJ and the Hill Country, "The Once Forbidding Land", has been called required reading for anyone setting foot in that part of Texas.

His 1970 essay Land of the Permanent Wave", was about the destruction of the Big Thicket by timber interests. SI, whose parent company Time Inc. had a major East Texas lumber company as a stockholder, rejected the piece. Harper's Magazine ran the piece, and Harper's editor Willie Morris called it one of the two best pieces Morris ever published during his tenure at the magazine.

Shrake’s novels Blessed McGill (1968) and Strange Peaches (1972) are arguably his most lasting works. In the fall of 1963, Shrake was a reporter for the Dallas Morning News and was dating the star dancer at Jack Ruby's Carousel Club. Strange Peaches, which features a lead character who is a TV Western star dating Jack Ruby’s star dancer, is renowned as an acidic look at Dallas in the Fall of 1963.

Shrake may be best known for his three golfing guides he co-authored with legendary golf coach Harvy Penick, including Harvey Penick's Little Red Book, a golf guide that became the best-selling sports book in publishing history.

As an "as told to" biographer, he wrote autobiographies of Willie Nelson and former Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer.

Shrake’s screenwriting credits include "J.W. Coop" (1971), starring Cliff Robertson; "Kid Blue" (1973), starring Dennis Hopper; and "Tom Horn" (1980), starring Steve McQueen.

Shrake, whose archives are now part of the Southwestern Writers Collection at Texas State University-San Marcos, is also known for his longtime friendship with Jenkins and other Texas writers such as Larry L. King, Billy Lee Brammer, Gary Cartwright, and Peter Gent. He was also known to hang out with fellow Austinites Jerry Jeff Walker, Willie Nelson, Ben Crenshaw, and Tom Kite. Shrake was the former “First Guy” of Texas and will be buried next to his longtime companion, Gov. Ann Richards.
posted by Ranucci (12 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Really great post. I wasn't familiar with Shrake, and clearly I have some reading to do.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 2:13 PM on May 10, 2009

Oops, Bud was born in 1931, not 1937 (sorry about that...)
posted by Ranucci at 2:31 PM on May 10, 2009

Whoa, there goes my next week. Or month. I'd heard his name, but am clearly an ignoramus.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:59 PM on May 10, 2009

Wow, for someone who clearly had his toes in so many different areas of popular culture, I'm surprised I've never heard of him. Thanks for the post.
posted by nitsuj at 3:16 PM on May 10, 2009

This is a really impressive obit, and has inspired me to check his work out (alas, too late).
posted by librarylis at 3:18 PM on May 10, 2009

Also, the fact that this post, as of writing, shows up as the 2nd result on Google for "Bud Shrake" is awesome.
posted by nitsuj at 3:26 PM on May 10, 2009

I've read and reread the "Little Red Book". I don't know if my golf game has gotten better, but I've enjoyed over and over the stories of Penick via Shrake.
posted by Mojojojo at 4:01 PM on May 10, 2009

Thanks, this is a great obit. What a fascinating life. Here's a longer clip of the interview.
posted by readery at 5:51 PM on May 10, 2009

What a great post. I enjoyed both the Willie bio and Tom Horn, but stupidly never put together that they were both Shrake.

And the fact that he was Ann Richards' "longtime companion" alone puts him at the pinnacle of awesomeness.
posted by total warfare frown at 7:46 PM on May 10, 2009

I just finished the Sports Illustrated article about LBJ's Hill Country and it's pitch-perfect. He really nails the general tenor of the population and the feel of the land. Fredericksburg is overrun with tourists these days, but the German settlement of the hill country is still evident in their architecture which is austere, but still magnificent. I've met old-timers with distinct German accents, though they're about all gone, now.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:50 AM on May 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

He was a stud. There was a group of writers from Fort Worth, that are my idols. They are slowly checking out now, but their legacy will never die.
posted by Senator at 9:03 AM on May 11, 2009

Wow. I was familiar with him, and his writing, and his Austin contemporaries' writing, but I had no idea that he and Ann Richards were an item. How the hell did I miss that?

All the bright lights of the Austin in which I came of age are flickering off. :(
posted by mudpuppie at 9:23 AM on May 11, 2009

« Older ECE 4760: Introduction to Microcontroller...   |   "Polar bears I'm on your team, lets hunt down the... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments