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Glenn McCarthy

Glenn McCarthy, the legendary Texas oil millionaire, talks to Wallace about money, gambling, fighting, and the Hollywood film Giant, which some say is the story of his life.

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Guest: Glenn McCarthy

WALLACE: Good evening. What you are about to witness is an unrehearsed, uncensored interview. My name is Mike Wallace, the cigarette is Philip Morris.


WALLACE: Tonight, we go after the story of a top Texas oil millionaire who has become a national legend. You see him behind me, he is Glenn McCarthy, a poor man's son who made his first million at the age of twenty-seven. We'll talk with Glenn McCarthy about the things that have made him famous, his wealth, his gambling, his belligerence, his politics, and the Hollywood film “Giant” which some insist is the story of his life. My guest's opinions are not necessarily mine, the station's, or my sponsor's, Philip Morris, Incorporated, but whether you agree or disagree we feel that none will deny the right of these views to be broadcast.


WALLACE: And now to our story. Texas breeds big: big cattle, big ranches, big oil wells, and big men like Glenn McCarthy. Mr. McCarthy belongs to a breed known as the Texas Oil Millionaire, almost all of whom were poor wildcatters before they struck it rich in oil. Their fantastic wealth and social power are legend; and the most dramatic legends have sprung up around Glenn McCarthy, a boom or bust businessman, a barroom brawler, and a conservative southerner. Glenn, first of all, I'd like to find out, if I can, why the quest for money, for great wealth, has been such a drive in your life?

We spoke with one of your oldest friends this week, and here's how he sized you up. He said, "Glenn McCarthy was a poor boy and he got a lot of pushing around. He married a rich girl and her family didn't like him, so he vowed that he'd show them he could do just as good as they did. He had a grudge." That's the end of the quote. How do you feel about that?

McCARTHY: Well, I don't think it was a quest to make a tremendous amount of money. Er... It's true that my parents were very poor people and... er, however, they were good and they took care of us, ...the three children, my brother, my sister and myself. We always had plenty food and warm clothing but we were er... we didn't have the, I guess you'd call, the luxuries of life, and those things probably prompted me more than anything else to have some of the things that I wanted myself.

WALLACE: Well, when he says, this friend of yours, that "He married a rich girl and her family didn't like him, so he vowed that he'd show them he could do just as good as they did. He had a grudge."

McCARTHY: Well, er...

WALLACE: This is a man who knows you pretty well.

McCARTHY: I wouldn't quite agree with that answer because I don't think that the family disliked me." I do think however in any parents' life when a daughter gets married at the age of sixteen years old, it has to soak in and you have to wait a while; and I think that was more the problem with my wife's family than anything else. You see my wife was only sixteen when I married her and that's rather young.

WALLACE: Uh-hum. Eleven years later you made your first million -- you must have worked very hard at it -- and since that time at one time you were supposed to be worth about seventy million dollars, you've been up and down, you've been not broke by our standards but broke perhaps by your standards, and you keep going back in. You say that money is not what you keep going back in after, is it something else?

McCARTHY: Mmm... I think it's more of achievement. As far as money's concerned, you can only spend so much money, you can only eat one meal at a time, and you can only wear one suit of clothes or have... or ride in one automobile. But, it's more the achievement or the challenge of being able to make a successful venture out of your... the thing that you attempt to do.

WALLACE: A good many of your fellow Texans insist, Glenn, that your life was the model for the Edna Ferber novel Giant which was later made into a film with the late James Dean. Now, despite his wealth, the Dean character in the film was rejected to the end by Texan aristocracy. He was a big spender but he never got the social acceptance that he craved. Hasn't there been some considerable similarity between that and your own experience?

McCARTHY: It's somewhat like my experiences. Er... I... it's not my opinion Miss Ferber wrote my life in that story, but it is the opinion of many of my friends in Hollywood who probably are more capable of making a judgment of that kind than I. I didn't like the story on Texas.

WALLACE: Why not?

McCARTHY: Well, I think that it was an opportunist writing and...

WALLACE: What do you mean by that?

McCARTHY: Well, it seems like right now a reporter or possibly a magazine writer will try to pick Texas apart and... er... hum... because it will sell, and I think the story of the Giant has sold. The only thing that I can see in the Giant, however, that somewhat resembles my life story would be splitting it in two parts because after all I do have a fine family and the... that side was portrayed in the large ranch and raising of a family; the other side was somewhat of a brawler type operation but... er...

WALLACE: All right, let's... let's, if we may, get away from the specifics of the actual plot, the people in the Giant, but one of Edna Ferber's themes in the book is what happens when people gain great wealth. Let's look now what another book has to say about that, The Bible. I quote from Christ's Sermon on the Mount, and I've condensed the passage somewhat. Christ says, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, for where your treasure is there will your heart be also. No man can serve two masters; you cannot serve God and Mammon." Do you think Christ was wrong?

McCARTHY: No, of course I don't think Christ was wrong...

WALLACE: Have you never done...?

McCARTHY: ...but

WALLACE: All right, I beg your pardon...

McCARTHY: But er... I don't think any man that, you might say, 'corrals' a tremendous amount of wealth doesn't do it, also along with it, a tremendous amount of good with a... with a successful operation.

WALLACE: Well, let me put it to you this way. Have you never done anything unchristian in your business dealings in amassing your wealth?

McCARTHY: I have not.

WALLACE: You have never done a dishonest thing in your life.

McCARTHY: Oh yes, I have.

WALLACE: In your business dealings?




WALLACE: Would you say that is true with most men of great wealth whom you know?

McCARTHY: Most of the men I have known intimately were wealthy. I believe that that's true. The greatest ones, rather.

WALLACE: When you say the 'greatest ones' what do you mean? Because, in a sense, stories that you hear about the old pirates, so to speak, who were... who are... later became the first families in the United States, they went through all kinds of tough, and sometimes sharp, dealings, generations ago, made their fortunes and then, turned more honest than they had been to begin with. You say that the men with whom you've dealt, the Texas oil millionaires are, by and large, scrupulously honest men?

McCARTHY: I... You're going to find bad and good in er... in either wealthy or, let's say, poor people or any class of people, but I'd say the great majority of the wealthy men I know operate legitimately and their operation is clean.

WALLACE: What about charity, Glenn? You hear so much about great sums of money given by so many of the men down there, the oil millionaires, H.L. Hunt, the late Hugh Roy Cullen. Have you involved yourself much with things charitable, have you given away a lot of your money?

McCARTHY: I've given some money away to charity, yes.

WALLACE: In the same percentage, and please tell me when I should stop, in the same percentages would you say that these other men have given it and with the same fanfare, in a sense, that these other men have given it?

McCARTHY: No, I wouldn't say that I would compare in that category because Mr. Roy Cullen gave away at one time a hundred and sixty million dollars, and many times more than that before he finally passed away here just a couple of weeks ago. Er... there's probably some reason for that too because, I'm still a much younger man and Mr. Cullen was up in his late seventies when he died, and he had gotten way out in front financially

and probably owed no one and under those conditions he was able to give away clear that kind of money; but I'm sure that all the rest of the men that I know who have lived through a full life and have gained tremendous sums of money have placed it where it has done the most good.

WALLACE: Aside from your wildcatting in oil, Glenn, you've become a Texas legend for other things, among them fighting and gambling. For instance, according to our reports, in Harrison County Texas, you settled out of court for ten thousand dollars an action brought against you for nearly blinding a navy commander by the name of S.L. Bishop in a street brawl back in September of 1946. This is just one out of a dozen nasty fights that you've been in that we know of. Why do you fight?

McCARTHY: I believe I can answer you quickly and briefly this way: that there's not a man in this room who under the same circumstances that those things would have happened to him he wouldn't have done the same thing; however, that's because the newspaper says that I blinded a man doesn't make it all true, the newspapers print some things that are absolutely untrue.

WALLACE: But your friends, friends who are still your friends, who like you, tell us that you'll fight, at certain times you'll fight almost anybody, anytime, and the bigger they are the better you like it. Now, seriously, what do you get out of fighting?

McCARTHY: I'll go back to the same answer: that all of the scraps that I've had, you're referring to, are more or less, and have been pushed upon me. I have not gone out of my way to find it at all.

WALLACE: Well, it takes two to make a fight, though, Glenn. Congressional Medal of Honor winner, Commando Kelly, told us a couple or three weeks back on the show. He said, "Guys are always trying to get me into a fight just to be big-shots, but I walk away. What have I got to prove by fighting?" Why don't you walk away? It does take two.

McCARTHY: I have walked away. Not in all cases; but I have walked away, and I've backed out of them as much as I possibly could. There's a problem there that... maybe my nature is to back as far as I can when I'm too far back... and can't go any farther that I would have to do something about it. And I have been chosen first because I was young, when I first made, as you stated a while ago, I was twenty-six years old and I made a million and a half dollars. Well, I didn't have any old friends in the oil business because I hadn't been in the oil business for myself, but about four years.

And er... there was a challenge from the standpoint of law-suits, where you're talking about a man get paid ten thousand dollars; well, actually he got paid ten thousand dollars for nothing. He didn't lose his eye from the scrap that I had. And I assume even at my present age, even though that was some years ago, if the same thing happened, this commander did the same thing under the same circumstances, I'm afraid I couldn't stop then. Now you might ask me why again, why I don't back away from it, but that was carrying it too far in that instance.

WALLACE: Do you fight more, I guess a lot of us do, do you fight more when you drink?

McCARTHY: That's when I'm chosen most. (BOTH MEN LAUGH)

WALLACE: Glenn, just about everybody in Texas has his own version of a fight to the finish between you and a businessman name of Hank Grant, at a hunting-and-fishing lodge after a poker game, in south Texas. I believe it was in 1940 at Eagle Lodge. Would you care to tell us what really happened in that fight?

McCARTHY: Yes, and this is one time there wasn't any drinking involved -- I don't mind explaining it to you -- I was an invited guest at the Eagle Lake Country Club, I mean Eagle Lake Hunting Club, and my brother and a business associate of mine were late getting away from Houston, it was raining hard and I was in my automobile. And under those circumstances I drive... I usually drive conservative 'cause the roads are slippery and, ...and er... I would not take a drink going all the way to Eagle Lake.

When I arrived, Mr. Grant... was there... and for some reason or the other he was continuously challenging me while we were eating our dinner and also playing gin rummy. And he made numerous remarks and to a point where my brother said, "Well, if you don't do something about this, I am!" And I tried my best to stop him. Well to, ...even I asked Grant to come on outside and let's talk about it. So, outside I told him that there wasn't any use for this brawl to take place, I'd like to shake his hand and go back inside and enjoy our hunt. It was raining, it was muddy, and no one was going to get anything out of it. Which, he did, and when we came back inside, he spoke up and said, that after a minute or two, I told you fellows he was yellow and he was not going to do anything about it." And then's when my brother went across the table for him and hit him, and I didn't even get any... as far as...

WALLACE: Well, Glenn, there was talk about a can of lye being thrown and how it scarred this man...

McCARTHY: That's right.

WALLACE: ...and later he...

McCARTHY: I wasn't going to get into this scrap at that time either, Mike, and he... there was two more boys came in -- or two more men -- and they were all three going to get on my brother. That's when I entered it. Well, before it was all over, they. My brother and I were standing and they were not and...

WALLACE: When you say, 'they'. How many?

McCARTHY: Three...

WALLACE: Three others.

McCARTHY: Three, including Grant, and Grant said, "Well, I guess it's all over." So... I... He got up and started to shake hands with us, and we did and started to turn around and walked off -- and there came a can of Drano. Had it in his right hand and was going to hit my brother in his face. It was during these scrap my brother's face was cut very bad and, as it came across my shoulder... well I grabbed his hand and took the can -- I didn't know what was in the can -- and I hit him in the face with the can.

And, of course, he had a reaction in those cuts and it did scar his face pretty bad. But if there ever was one that I had in my life that I regretted... I didn't want it, ...and I tried every way in the world... There was probably fifteen doctors at this club that would tell the same story that I'm telling, if they told the truth.

WALLACE: Glenn, we've spoken a little about your wildcatting, your fighting; you've also made a reputation as a gambler. A big man with the dice, we're told. Could it be that, in a sense, gambling has the same lure for you as fighting that you like, the danger, that you like the opportunity to test your nerve against another fellow's?

McCARTHY: I want to correct that, I don't like to fight.

WALLACE: You don't like to fight?

McCARTHY: I do like to gamble.

WALLACE: All right. For that reason?

McCARTHY: For what reason?

WALLACE: For the reason that it's the chance to test your nerve. It's not for money, it's to test your nerve against another man.

McCARTHY: I like competition, yes.

WALLACE: Does the fact that gambling is illegal in Texas make you feel guilty at all when you do gamble?

McCARTHY: We don't have any gambling in Texas today, but it was not considered so. Most of the gambling in Texas is on an island, Galveston Island, and for many years it ran and everyone knew it was... it was more or less accepted. However, I do not gamble in Texas... very, but very, very seldom... I haven't in the past, let's put it that way.

WALLACE: Let's turn now to politics for just a minute... You're a registered Democrat.

McCARTHY: Yes, sir.

WALLACE: Eisenhower Democrat?

McCARTHY: No... I voted for Eisenhower... yes, sir... but... I am a Democrat.

WALLACE: Some other Texas oil millionaires, including Mr. Hunt, Murchison, the late Roy Cullen, were stark supporters of Senator Joe McCarthy. What did you think of Senator McCarthy?

McCARTHY: I liked the Senator; he was a good friend of mine. I went on many fishing trips with him. Er... I think he did the country a lot of good. I think he did the people in the United States a lot of good, if for no other reason that Joe spotted the idea that there were elements in the United States that were attempting to undermine our government and our efforts.

WALLACE: And you... his methods, you approved of?

McCARTHY: No sir.

WALLACE: You did not?

McCARTHY: No, sir. I think he awakened a lot of people to the fact there were things that should be done; but I think that Joe didn't properly prepare himself for the... with the proper proof on the people he did attempt to expose.

WALLACE: In just a moment, Glenn, I'd like to talk with you about a problem which is not only your own but the entire South, and that is segregation. I understand that in speaking of relations between white and Negro, you frequently say, "You just can't breed a prize bull with a scrub heifer," and I'd like to know what you mean by that. And we'll get the answer to that question in less than thirty seconds.


WALLACE: All right, Glenn, as far as mixing between white and Negro, you're against it. You've said, "You just can't breed a prize bull with a scrub heifer..." and you've said it frequently. What do you mean by that?

McCARTHY: But, first I want to answer your question that I have no prejudice in race, creed, or color, for that matter. I don't think that the time is right for... I think it's completely out-of-time at this time to force this idea on the southern states.

WALLACE: But specifically that quote. That's one that you use, and use a lot. What do you mean by it?

McCARTHY: Well, it would be a long explanation.


McCARTHY: To try to explain what you mean by that er... you... when you try to raise registered cattle, you attempt to put registered bulls with registered heifers...

WALLACE: Are you suggesting that the white is a prize bull, and the Negro is a scrub heifer?

McCARTHY: I'm not saying it in that way, I don't believe. But, I'd rather go this route: I'd rather say that such things as have been done over many, many years in many of the South American countries; and, the South American countries are at least a hundred years, many of them, a hundred years behind the progress in the United States. Yet they have more actual natural resources and more country to explore than all of the United States or that any state has ever had.

WALLACE: And you think that's because of miscegenation, mixing between the races?

McCARTHY: They're a hundred years behind and I think that that has had a tremendous amount of effect upon it.

WALLACE: Science, of course, disagrees with you, as you know, Glenn. Let me read from a study called Race and Other Kindred Delusions, by Dr. M. F. Ashley Montagu, Professor of Anatomy at the Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, when he wrote it. Dr. Montagu said, "There's no evidence that any people is either mentally superior or inferior to any other people. This concept of race," he said, "is nothing but a convenient myth and a willful delusion."

Obviously, we haven't got time to go into the whole problem of race relations, Glenn, but, let me note this: As you know, we spoke with your wife about the marriage of one of your daughters, Glenna Lee, to the son of a Greek shoemaker. And your wife told us this: she said, "I must say that Glenna's marriage was an education for all of us."

She said, "I was brought up to think that Greeks and people like that were different, not as good as us. But, now that I know the boy, I think that Greeks are even more affectionate family people than we are; he's a fine boy." Now could it be that your feelings about Negroes are as unfair as the prejudices that your wife used to have about Greeks?

McCARTHY: I have no prejudice against the Negro; and I'm not saying exactly what you're saying, Mike. I'm saying that the time is not right for that... all our efforts have been made... I think it's going to be detrimental to all of us. And, I think also that we're getting a little bit away from our states' rights that we ought to have... away from the Constitution of the United States.

WALLACE: I'd just, as soon, not get into that issue now because we can go on and on. I just wanted an explanation of that favorite quote of yours. Just a couple of other things while we have time, Glenn. Three of your daughters, I believe, have married comparatively poor men. And your wife, who came from a millionaire family, married you when you were just a poor boy. How do you explain the attraction of these women for poor boys?

McCARTHY: I can't give you any explanation. (LAUGHS)

WALLACE: Is there something more vital, more dynamic about a fellow who's struggling to make the grade, compared to men who were born into wealth? Do you believe that?

McCARTHY: I don't know. I think that a rich boy has a lot of disadvantages that a poor boy doesn't have.

WALLACE: Disadvantages in what...?

McCARTHY: Yes, yes.

WALLACE: In what respect?

McCARTHY: Well, I think he has a harder time making it and understanding what to do than a poor boy would. In first place, he is picked at a lot because he is rich, and he is criticized a lot because he's rich. A poor boy gets an idea of how to get out and work for himself, and I think that might have something to do with it.

WALLACE: One final question, Glenn, and don't answer it if you don't want to. How much money are you carrying in your wallet right now? Do you have any idea... would you take a look and see? Or would you rather not answer that one?

McCARTHY: I don't mind telling you.

WALLACE: How much you got with you?

McCARTHY: I should have about twelve, thirteen hundred dollars.

WALLACE: Of course, you're here from Texas on a weekend with two of your children, so you have to have a little pin money, anyway (BOTH MEN LAUGH). Glenn McCarthy, thank you for coming from Houston and talking with us tonight.

For those who might ask what it takes to make millions in Texas oil, or anywhere else for that matter, Glenn McCarthy has an answer. He once said, "Opportunity beckons individuals who are individuals; the cry is for men who are men." Glenn McCarthy is such a man, but he is also the kind of man who would grab opportunity by the throat if it didn't beckon him fast enough. I'll bring you the rundown on next week's guest in just one minute.


WALLACE: Next week we go after the biggest fight the Confederate States have had since Bull Run, the Battle of Civil Rights; and we'll get this story from a controversial, outspoken senator from Mississippi. He's James Easton, you see him behind me. We'll try to find out why Senator James Easton charges that, quote, "The Negro race is an inferior race," unquote. And why he describes the United States Supreme Court as, and I quote again, "A crowd of racial politicians in judicial robes," unquote. This story next Sunday. Till then, for Philip Morris, Mike Wallace. Good night.

ANNCR: The Mike Wallace Interview is brought to you by Philip Morris Incorporated, the Quality House.