2007 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Senator(s) Simmons, Butler, Frazier, Horhn

Senate Concurrent Resolution 637

(As Adopted by Senate and House)


     WHEREAS, the fledgling but fast-growing Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation in Ruleville, Mississippi, has obtained the two acres of land that it plans to use as the site of its future home, a center where Mississippi Deltans can receive both cancer-awareness education and medical screenings; and

     WHEREAS, the foundation acquired the two-acre plot along Mississippi Highway 8 from local businessman Luster Bayless.  The foundation paid $25,000.00 for property that two appraisers had valued at $76,000.00 and $79,000.00, foundation Chairperson Freddie White-Johnson said.  "It was a good opportunity for the foundation and it was a goodwill gesture on his part"; and

     WHEREAS, the life of Luster Bayless has got to be a pure slice of Americana -- from a shotgun house on the Mississippi  Delta to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood.  Only in America.  It didn't just happen "poof" like that.  It was no overnight transition.  Just like most success stories, there was work involved and Bayless wasn't afraid of it; and

     WHEREAS, he started early on a tiny farm in Ruleville, where he was born October 26, 1937, to David and Jimmie Lee Bayless.  Bayless grew into a local high school football standout, and was offered a scholarship to a state college, but there was a job waiting for him in Hollywood and life really began for the kid from the Delta.  He went to work for Western Costume and stayed long enough to learn the basics of his trade and get his Costumers Union Card.  After that, he left to freelance and see what Hollywood might have for him; and

     WHEREAS, his first film was, of all things, "Hitler," starring Richard Basehart.  Then it was off to the races.  He did "Cheyenne Autumn" with John Ford, then costumed Glenn Ford in "Advance to the Rear," which George Marshall directed.  Then in 1963 he found himself at Disney Studios doing "Mary Poppins"; and

     WHEREAS, while at Disney Studios he also found Patricia Joan Voght, and the two were married in 1965, and the couple had two daughters, Christina and Diane; and

     WHEREAS, then came the second key phone call in Bayless' life, to work on a picture called "True Grit," starring John Wayne.  The new job led to a lasting relationship with Wayne, with whom he did more than a dozen films as the Duke's personal costumer.  The final picture the two did was "The Shootist," co-starring Lauren Bacall and a young actor named Ron Howard, currently one of the hottest directors in the industry; and

     WHEREAS, at this point, Bayless decided he wanted his own business, so he founded American Costume Company in 1978.  Wayne not only encouraged his young friend, but also loaned him all the costumes he owned from the Batjac Productions Company to get him started.  Since then and following Duke's death in 1979, Michael Wayne, the star's eldest son and Batjac CEO, has been one of Bayless' most valuable advisers.  Today, the little venture that began in a small building about the size of a two-car garage, now operates smoothly and successfully, in two side-by-side warehouses in North Hollywood, covering more than 40,000 square feet of showrooms, workrooms, tailor shops and offices.  It covers the entire period from 1770 to 1970, in all phases of wardrobe, and it has been more than ample in dressing actors and actresses in more than 3,000 projects in both motion pictures and television; and

     WHEREAS, it is with great pride that we recognize the generosity of this entrepreneur, whose success is an inspiration to all Mississippians and whose concern for the citizens of his native Mississippi Delta is a much-appreciated reality:

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby commend the generosity of Mississippi Delta businessman Luster Bayless for his contribution of real estate to the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation in Ruleville, Mississippi, and for his successful business career which is an inspiration for all Mississippians, and extend to him and his family the best wishes of the Legislature for future success.

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be presented to Luster Bayless, forwarded to the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.