Newman Factoids

This section of the website has been set aside to present interesting (little known) facts and trivia related to Newman history.   The topics will be random in nature, short in length, and posted in no particular order of importance.  This page will be a perpetual "work-in-progress", please check back for updates!

President Richard Nixon Visits Newman - 1950 & 1962

President Richard Nixon visited the City of Newman on two occasions:  On Tuesday afternoon, April 11, 1950, U.S. Congressman Nixon stopped by when running as a candidate for United States Senator, it was his only stop on the West Side.  

Mr. Nixon visited again, as a former Vice President running for California Governor, on Monday, August 27th, 1962 (Mr. Nixon arrived at 11:40 am in Newman, during his "Farm Tour", to speak for 30 minutes at the F.D.E.S. Hall where he greeted more than 200 "Newmanites").

Jack Hoxie & Dixie Starr, Silent Movie Screen Legends, Headliners for Schell Brothers Circus, Newman Appearance   -  March 1931

Silent & Sound screen legends, Jack Hoxie and his wife, Dixie Starr, were billed as the headliners of the Schell Brothers Circus which held their show in Newman on the 22nd of March, 1931.   Joining the cinematic duo were their star animal companions, "Scout" (Hoxie's Horse), and "Bunk" (Hoxie's faithful dog), both of screen fame in their own right.

The Hotel Jessie and the Edison Movie Theatre - 1912

in 1911, local businessman Joe House commissioned the erection of a new brick building to host a hotel ("The Hotel Jessie", named after Joe's wife), and a movie theatre ("The Edison", to showcase the latest in fine "silent" film entertainment as well as to provide a regular venue for live performances and civic meetings, the Governor of California spoke to Newman citizens here in 1918).  Both establishments commenced business in 1912.  The Edison showed movies up until 1922, the Hotel Jessie was sold to Johnny Rose who changed its name to the "Rose Hotel" (in 1978, the building burned down in a tragic fire, an empty lot at 1442 Main Street now marks the spot of this once historic building).

Below is a composite view (from a partial photographic capture of the hotel against a blueprint) which depicts the hotel as it looked on January 1, 1916 (on one of the rare days it's ever snowed in Newman).  The Edison Theatre is on the right side of the mock-up:

Below is a view many years later after the building was remodeled and renamed "The Rose Hotel" (the theatre became a café)

Tent Theatre (Live Shows) - April 1921

In April of 1921, a Tent Theatre was erected to host Live Entertainment (the "Theatre" was located next to the present day Newman Museum on Main Street).

California Governor Visits Newman (Thrice!) - 1918 & 1922

Then sitting California Governor William Dennison Stephens (1859-1944) visited the city of Newman TWICE in the year 1918.  The Governor's first visit occurred on January 17, 1918 when he came to speak at the Edison Theatre (the theatre was located in the Hotel Jessie which is now an empty lot on Main Street).  The primary theme of the Governor's speech was related to enlisting support for U.S. involvement in World War I.  Prior to the speech, the Governor was a dinner guest of Newman businessmen, the dinner was held at the "Newman Grill", a restaurant which was located in the "Russ House" (the Russ House location is currently an empty lawn area of the Newman Plaza off of Highway 33).  After spending the afternoon/evening here, the Governor stayed/slept overnight in Newman, leaving for Turlock the next day.

The Governor's second visit (within one year!) occurred on October 11, 1918.  On this occasion, the Governor stopped briefly in Newman to give a noon time speech at "Bank Corner" (the sidewalk area outside of the IOOF/City Hall Building on Main Street) to promote public funding of the ongoing World War effort (parenthetically, the war ended 30 days after the Governor's speech).  A highlight for Newman School Children was that they were excused from class early to attend the event.

The Governor's third visit occurred on April 6, 1922 when he came for the evening to speak at Orestimba High School.   Prior to his speech, the Governor attended a reception dinner at the "Pleasanton Cafe" (formally the "Newman Grill") at the Russ House.  The subjects addressed by the Governor at the High School were:   Spiraling Government Costs, Soldier Bonuses, & Proposed Highway System Improvements.  After the evening ended, the Governor spent the night in Newman as the guest of Mr. And Mrs. E. S. Wangenheim (Mr. Wangenheim, 1862-1939, was the president of the Bank of Newman and a nephew of Simon Newman).

Actor Walter "Spec" O'Donnell, Newman Personal Appearance - April 1923

Actor Walter "Spec" O'Donnell (1911-1986) was in Newman to make a personal appearance promoting a new film at the Star Theatre.  Walter (stage name "Spec") was a child actor from Fresno who was famous in the latter years of silent movies.

Radio Comes To Newman (First Broadcast) - April 1922

Trivia:  Who was US President when the Newman Museum building first opened as the library in 1920?

Answer:  Woodrow Wilson who was president from 1913-1921

Famous Child Actress Diana Serra "Baby Peggy" Cary - Former Newman Resident

Former Newman & Gustine resident, Diana Serra Cary (1918-2020), was an Actress and Author who as a child, captivated audiences in over 150 silent films, amassing a staggering annual income of $1 million. Known for her iconic bob haircut, "Baby Peggy" starred in memorable films like 'Little Red Riding Hood,' 'Hansel and Gretel,' 'Carmen Jr.,' 'The Darling of New York,' and 'Captain January.'  Unfortunately, most of her cinematic legacy was lost in a studio warehouse fire in 1926.

Born Peggy-Jean Montgomery, she began her career at the tender age of 2½, cast opposite Brownie the Wonder Dog by Century Studio. By the age of 5, she had worked with Century, Universal, and Principal Pictures, becoming a multi-millionaire. Living in a Beverly Hills mansion with a chauffeur-driven limousine, she received over 1.7 million fan letters annually, embarked on national tours, graced magazine covers, and endorsed various products.  In 1924, Baby Peggy stood beside Franklin D. Roosevelt at the Democratic National Convention, waving an American flag.  

After Cary's film career ended in 1938, she lived a largely inconspicuous life until 1970 when she embarked on a new career as a film historian.  Cary authored books such as 'The Hollywood Posse' (1975), 'Hollywood’s Children' (1978), 'Whatever Happened to Baby Peggy?',  'The Autobiography of Hollywood’s Pioneer Child Star' (1996), and 'Jackie Coogan: The World’s Boy King: A Biography of Hollywood’s Legendary Child Star' (2003).

Legendary Athlete Jim Thorpe Visits Newman - March 1939

Legendary athlete Jim Thorpe (1887 - 1953) visited Newman on Friday March 24th, 1939 @ 11:00 a.m. to give a presentation to students at Orestimba High School.

Smithsonian Museum

Jim Thorpe Museum

Ripley - 1938

Television Comes To Newman (First Broadcast Received) - April 12, 1949