'ENTERTAINMENT COLLECTORS, AUTHORS, AND CRITICS' Exhibition to Open 1/22 at University of Mississippi
UM Archives and Special Collections presents "Entertainment Collectors, Authors, and Critics: Selections from the Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment, Stark Young, and Herschel Brickell Collections", which celebrates a major gift by journalist and author Vicksburg native Ellis Nassour [Ole Miss 1960-1964] .
"To be recognized in this exhibit with these men, both extraordinary Mississippians, is a great honor," says Nassour, who now resides in New York City.
UM alumnus Nassour began his generous donation of art and entertainment memorabilia to the university in 2000. In 2004, there was an official dedication with the donation named The Mamie and Ellis Nassour Arts & Entertainment Colletion, in memory of his parents.
"The Nassour Collection gives the University a new breadth of research material, stretching from Hollywood to the New York stage and back to the South," said Charles Regan Wilson, former director of the Center for the Study of Southern Culture. "The primary sources on Patsy Cline from Ellis two biographies, in particular, help support the Center's new emphasis on the study of Southern music."
As a UM journalism student, Nassour was a contributor to the Daily Mississippian and chaired the Associated Student Body social affairs committee for two years. Working hand in hand with Dean of Students Tom Hines, he changed the caliber of on-campus entertainment with concerts by Peter, Paul, and Mary, Johnny Cash and June Carter, Julie London and Bobby Troupe, Peter Nero, and, among others, Al Hirt.
Nassour worked as a "campus runner" for a reporter from The New York Times during the UM integration crisis which ultimately landed him a job at the newspaper, which had been his life-long ambition. He later became the Director of Artist Relations for MCA Music/Universal Pictures, where he worked with Andrew Lloyd Webber, Tim Rice, Elton John, Neil Diamond, Brenda Lee, and The Who.
"The relationships I developed led to some incredible experiences," says Nassour. "Part of my reeducation at the Times was working with reporters who covered World War II and the Korean War. Working with Loretta Lynn at MCA led to hilarious and poignant tales of her friendship with Patsy and eventually to my two biographies." The books are Patsy Cline, An Intimate Portrait (1981) and the 1993 hardcover Honky Tonk Angel: The Intimate Story of Patsy Cline, still in print in a 2008 Updated Edition. He has adapted the latter into a forthcoming stage musical. The entire spoken word of the hit revue Always, Patsy Cline is taken from four pages of Nassour's biography.
From an early age Nassour had an interest in the performing arts and collecting materials related to the entertainment industry. His career gave him first-hand access to many of the valuable pieces found in the Collection. It contains hundreds of visual and audio materials, vintage and contemporary film and theater posters, signed Playbills, bound plays, biographies and autobiographies, numerous other books, art, and other significant items.
"One of the most important elements of the collection is that a huge portion of it is in use by faculty and students, " Nassour points outs.
An opening reception will be held at 5 pm on January 22 in Archives and Special Collections. The exhibit will be unveiled in the William Faulkner Archives on the 3rd floor of J.D. Williams Library and will run through December 2015.
"The Libraries are thrilled to be able to offer a major exhibition highlighting the works and collections of three outstanding Mississippi entertainment writers and critics, the late Stark Young and Herschel Brickell and Ellis Nassour," states Dean of University Libraries Julia Rholes. "We want to invite the public to join us for this extraordinary exhibit."
University, Mississippi, the campus of the University of Mississippi, is located outside Oxford, Mississippi, a three-hour drive North from Jackson and a 45-minute drive from the Memphis International Airport. Visitors to the exhibit are welcome to tour Rowan Oaks, the home of William Faulkner. All events are free and open to the public. For Williams Library hours and more information, contact Kelley Norris of University Communication email@example.com or Dr. Jennifer Ford of the Williams Library JWFord@olemiss.edu.