Men & Women of Distinction

"Men & Women of Distinction"  is an ongoing series that profiles Arkansans whose lives have had a profound effect on the development of the state; the character of it's people or its image beyond our borders. By highlighting these men and women, the series allows history to be told by the voices of those who lived it; in a format that can be preserved for future generations.

Men and women profiled in the series to date include former governors; U.S. senators and representatives; an internationally renowned composer, a former U.S. Surgeon General and a nationally recognized philanthropist.

Latest Episode: "Men and Women of Distinction: Mike Beebe"

A product of Arkansas, the Honorable Mike Beebe was born in a tar paper shack in Amagon. Beebe rose from his humble beginnings to practice law in Searcy and run for Arkansas Senate - where he was first elected in 1981 and served for 20 years - followed by successful runs for attorney general (2003-2007) and, finally, governor (2007-2015). Watch Now

Judge Morris Arnold

Morris Arnold is a judge, a scholar, and an historian whose contributions to the state are highlighted in this episode of Men and Women of Distinction.

Mike Beebe

2020 Mid-America Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Emmy winner for Director – Non-Live (Post-Produced).

This film examines the life of the Honorable Mike Beebe, a product of Arkansas, born in a tar paper shack in Amagon. Beebe rose from his humble beginnings to practice law in Searcy and run for Arkansas Senate – where he was first elected in 1981 and served for 20 years – followed by successful runs for attorney general (2003-2007) and, finally, governor (2007-2015). Directed and produced by Kathryn Tucker.

Dale Bumpers

Former Arkansas governor and U.S. Senator Dale Bumpers was born in Charleston, Arkansas and crafted a political career that lasted more than three decades. In 1970 Bumpers defeated the better known Orval Faubus in the democratic primary election for governor and went on to unseat incumbent Republican Governor Winthrop Rockefeller in the general election. He took J. William Fulbright's Senate seat in 1974 and began a quarter-century of service in Washington DC. Weeks after his 1999 retirement, Bumpers returned to Washington to give closing arguments in fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton's Senate trial.

Milton Crenchaw

Arkansas native Milton Crenchaw is recognized nationally for his role as an instructional aviator and pilot trainer for the Tuskegee Airmen, a group of African American pilots who fought in World War II. In this one-on-one interview with host Ernie Dumas, Crenchaw reflects on his childhood in Little Rock and shares the stories of his life in which he found himself on the leading edge of history. Don't miss this inspiring interview with a man whose life has been defined by breaking definitions.

Dr. Joycelyn Elders 

Dr. Joycelyn Elders is known as the first African American appointed as Surgeon General of the United States during the Clinton Administration. Behind her plain spoken manner is a woman who grew up in poverty during the great depression and despite the odds, went to college and became a physician and respected scientist. In this one-on-one interview with Ernie Dumas, Elders opens up about her childhood, the struggle to make it to Little Rock for her first day of college and the relationships that defined her. Elders recounts stories of her residency at UAMS that influenced her to become a strong advocate for children's health and an opponent of teenage pregnancy.

Mary Lowe Good

Funding for this "Men and Women of Distinction" is provided by The Moving Image Trust Fund.

Mary Lowe Good is an inorganic chemist whose approach to science and technology – to life in general – has earned her praise, distinctions and awards from peers, political and world leaders, four presidents and, perhaps most importantly to her, family. Good was founding dean of the UALR George W. Donaghey Emerging Analytics Center and now serves as special advisor to the chancellor for economic development and chair of the Little Rock Tech Park Board.

John Paul Hammerschmidt

Former U.S. Senator and Arkansas Governor David Pryor sits down with John Paul Hammerschmidt to discuss his years as a congressman during the administrations of six presidents – from 1967 to 1993. Hammerschmidt was born in 1922 in Harrison Arkansas and stated his professional career working as the third generation in the Hammerschmidt Lumber Company. In 1942 Hammerschmidt enlisted in the Army Air Corps and became a highly decorated World War II combat pilot before returning home in 1945. Hammerschmidt was the original sponsor of congressional authorization for a national Vietnam Veterans Memorial to be located in Washington, D.C. He was also the author and initiating sponsor of the legislation which preserved the Buffalo River as a free-flowing stream, designating it as America’s first national river.

Gene Hatfield

Funding for this "Men and Women of Distinction" is provided by The Moving Image Trust Fund.

Born in 1925 in Conway, a short distance from his current home, Hatfield is one of the state's most prolific artists, with paintings and sculptures numbering in the thousands. His work is most closely compared to that of the post-impressionist masters. A true Renaissance man, Hatfield has tested his hand in nearly every form of artistic expression - acting, writing, song, dance, painting and sculpture - and continues to challenge preconceived ideas of what is and is not art.

Hatfield is also well known for the varied sculptures that fill his yard. Created from recycled materials, or "found objects," as he prefers to call them, the statues have been lightning rods for controversy in recent years. In 2002, a legal ruling in Hatfield's favor established the legitimacy of his art, and he continues to add to the collection.

Perhaps Gene Hatfield's greatest legacy is the indelible mark he made on art students during his 37-year tenure as a professor at the University of Central Arkansas. Helping to build the program from the ground up, he brought his extensive European training to the classroom. In 2010, he was honored with the award for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts, presented by the Gov. Mike Beebe.

Jane Krutz

Most people in Arkansas would recognize Jane Krutz as the face or "voice" of AETN from her regular appearances during the network's pledge drives. But in a recent interview with David Pryor "Miss Jane" reveals herself as more than an advocate for PBS, but a woman who has devoted her life to volunteer efforts across the state. In this episode of "Men and Women of Distinction", join us as we take a closer look at a woman whose indomitable spirit has enriched the lives of all Arkansans.

Francis McBeth

Francis McBeth is an internationally recognized composer and conductor who began his career in 1957 as professor of music at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia. After retiring in 1996, McBeth began touring the world, conducting in 48 states plus Europe, Japan, Australia and Canada. His works have totaled more than 100 compositions for orchestra, band, choral piano, organ, voice and chamber performances. He is credited for making the symphony more appealing to the greater populous by sparking an interest in classical music in the average person.

Sidney Sanders McMath

Born Sidney Sanders McMath on June 14, 1912 in Columbia County, Ark., McMath was a graduate of the University of Arkansas Law School. He served with the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, earning the Silver Star and Legion of Merit. He returned to Hot Springs after the war, where he became politically active to fight corruption in local government. He was elected prosecutor for Garland and Montgomery counties in 1946, and governor in 1948 and 1950. He was an advocate of internal improvements and anti-lynching statutes.

Korto Momolu

A little girl forced from her African home by a violent coup, Korto Momolu held firm to her dreams and rose to the top of high fashion. She first burst onto the scene with two appearances on the reality series "Project Runway" and never looked back, becoming a fixture at New York's fashion week and building on her desire to make couture available to all women. Far from the bright lights, Korto now knows that home is where the heart is -- and her heart is here in Arkansas.

David Pryor

Former U.S. Senator and Arkansas Governor David Pryor is interviewed by Roy Reed and discusses his childhood in Camden, his years as a state representative, his years in Congress and his race against Sen. John L. McClellan in 1972. He also talks about his two terms as governor of Arkansas and his 1978 race for the Senate.

Ray Rodgers

Amateur boxing's Ray Rodgers has a wit as sharp as any jab and his one-liners come at you in combinations. His disarming humor and no-nonsense approach have taken him from amateur boxer to coach to the top leadership posts in a sport to which he's dedicated more than seventy years of service. His skills as a "cutman" are legendary and he's worked the corners of some of professional boxing's greatest champions. His most enduring legacy however, is his tireless commitment to the countless young people he's mentored away from the streets and towards a better life through education.

Miller Williams

The general public might remember Miller Williams as the man who delivered the inaugural poem at Bill Clinton's second inauguration. But, in the world of literature, Williams ranks among the best of American poets. He was a man who discovered his calling early in life, writing poetry under the guidance of his mother as a boy. When his academic life brought him into the sciences, Williams continued his writing and self-published his first book of poetry in 1952. Attracting the attention of Flannery O'Connor, Williams made the switch from professor of biology to professor of English literature. In the early '70s, Williams accepted a position at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville where he co-founded the University of Arkansas Press, founded the university’s MFA program in literary translation, co-founded the Comparative Literature program, and taught and mentored emerging poets such as Chelsea Rathburn, Leon Stokesberry and R.S. Guinn.

In his life, Williams collected more than 15 awards. Of his book "Time and the Tilting Earth," published in 2009, Joel Brouwer of the New York Times said this: "In poem after poem, he mingles the low and the high in both form and content, bringing a sense of cleareyed practicality to life’s big questions and a keenly honed poetic technique to the cadences of Arkansas porch talk."

"Men and Women of Distinction" has been honored with numerous awards over the course of its run, including multiple Telly awards and recognition from the International Academy of Visual Arts.