Distinguished Kentuckian

Distinguished Kentuckian, which aired from 1974 to 1992, is a series of KET productions (except where noted) profiling Kentuckians whose leadership in government, education, the arts, journalism, or other fields of public service has had a lasting positive impact on the lives of the citizens of the Commonwealth.


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Click on a title below to watch the video. Each program is available in Windows Media® or RealVideo® format.

  1. Smith D. Broadbent Jr. (1979)
    At various times, agriculturist, businessman, and civic leader Smith Broadbent Jr. served as president of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation, the Kentucky Seed Association, the Kentucky State Fair Board, and the Thomas Poe Cooper Foundation.
  2. Francis and Louise Hutchins (1976)
    Berea College’s fifth president, Francis Hutchins, and his wife, Louise, were both advocates for international education. Berea’s Center for International Education is named for them. Francis Hutchins died in 1988.
  3. O.L. Press (1992)
    A profile of KET’s founding executive director, O. Leonard Press. His reminiscences about the early days of public broadcasting in Kentucky provide a fascinating glimpse of people, places, and events spanning a 40-year period from 1952 to 1992. A production of Video Editing Services, Lexington.
  4. Everett Moore (1984)
    A profile of Everett Moore, one-time president and chairman of the board of Fruit of the Loom. Born in Franklin County, Moore joined the Union Underwear Company in the early 1930s and worked his way up to vice president in 1940. Union Underwear became Fruit of the Loom in 1959. He was interviewed for this program by Lexington businessman Irving Rosenstein. Moore died in April 1993 at the age of 85.
  5. Mary Helen Byck (1979)
    Louisville businesswoman Mary Helen Byck ran the Byck’s department stores after her husband’s death in 1960. She was also a well-respected community leader whose interests ranged from support of the arts to politics and social activism. Mrs. Byck died in 1991.
  6. Morton Holbrook (1989)
    Morton Holbrook, who began his practice in the Owensboro firm of U.S. Rep. Glover H. Cary and Judge Wilbur K. Miller, became one of Western Kentucky’s foremost lawyers. He was known for spearheading reform of the state’s court system in the mid-1970s. He also worked tirelessly to improve higher education throughout the state. Holbrook died in 2006 at the age of 91.
  7. William H. Neal (1985)
    A profile of William H. Neal, a civic leader from Owensboro. Neal talks about his first job as a newspaper carrier at the age of 9, his aspirations of becoming a professional baseball player, and his 36-year career with Western Kentucky Gas Company.
  8. Robert Martin (1978)
    As the sixth president of Eastern Kentucky University, Robert Martin guided the school through a period of great growth from July 1960 to September 1976. Following his retirement from EKU, he was elected to the Kentucky Senate.
  9. Earl D. Wallace (1982)
    In 1961, well-known Kentucky businessman and civic leader Earl D. Wallace spearheaded the effort to restore the Shaker village in Mercer County. He remained chairman of the board of the new nonprofit education corporation Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill until his death in 1990.
  10. Margaret Willis (1977)
    Margaret Willis served as state librarian from 1954 to 1972, under six different governors. She oversaw the expansion of public library service to most counties in the state and the growth of the bookmobile fleet to the largest in the nation. She died in 1987.
  11. Bert Combs (1974)
    Bert T. Combs served as governor of Kentucky from 1959 to 1963. He created a merit system for state government workers that is still in place today, appointed the state’s first Human Rights Commission, and ordered the desegregation of all public accommodations in Kentucky. In this program, he is interviewed by education reform advocate Ed Prichard. Combs died in 1991.
  12. Ed Prichard (1974)
    A legendary figure at Princeton and Harvard Law School, Ed Prichard possessed an extraordinary intellect and political savvy that led to a series of appointments in Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal administration—all before Prichard turned 30. But in 1948, he was sentenced to six months in federal prison for ballot-stuffing. He struggled with depression for years but emerged to apply his talents to the civil rights movement and education reform in Kentucky. He died in 1984.
  13. Chloe Gifford (1974)
    Chloe Gifford, the first woman graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Law, passed the state bar examination at the age of 21. The Robertson County native taught at Sayre School in Lexington and then went to work at UK in 1940 as director of community services. She died in 1982 at the age of 82.
  14. Joy Bale Boone (1975)
    A profile of the noted poet, literary critic, and editor who founded the Kentucky literary magazine Approaches (later Kentucky Poetry Review). Her poem “The Storm’s Eye: A Narrative in Verse Celebrating Cassius Marcellus Clay, Man of Freedom 1810-1903,” is her best known work. She died in 2002 at the age of 89.
  15. Barry Bingham Sr. (1975)
    A profile of Barry Bingham Sr., patriarch of the family that dominated local media in Louisville for several decades. The family owned the Courier-Journal and Louisville Times newspapers as well as WHAS radio and television and a printing company. He died in 1988 at the age of 82.
  16. John Jacob Niles (1975)
    A profile of John Jacob Niles, a legendary singer/songwriter and a tireless advocate for folk music who collected traditional songs and inspired others to help in the preservation work. Some of his memorable songs include “Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair” and “I Wonder as I Wander.” The John Jacob Niles Center for American Music at the University of Kentucky is named for him. He died in 1980.
  17. Adolph Rupp (1975)
    Adolph Rupp, one of the most successful coaches in the history of college basketball, coached the University of Kentucky men’s team from 1930 to 1972 and built the program into a national powerhouse.
  18. Rufus B. Atwood (1974)
    Rufus B. Atwood served as president of Kentucky State College (now university) from 1929 to 1962. While improving educational opportunities for African Americans and bringing full accreditation to the college, he also led the battle for desegregated education in Kentucky in the 1940s.
  19. Eleanor Churchill (1976)
    A profile of Eleanor Churchill, cofounder of Churchill Weavers along with her husband, D. Carroll Churchill. Her innate flair for combining colors and textures soon made her the company’s primary designer, and she managed and marketed the business to national renown.
  20. Thomas D. Clark (1976)
    Kentucky’s most notable historian, Dr. Thomas D. Clark, personally saved a large portion of Kentucky’s official printed records from destruction. Those documents later became a core collection at the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives. Often referred to as the “Dean of Historians,” Clark also wrote A History of Kentucky, published in 1937 and still considered the standard history of the Commonwealth.
  21. Leslie Combs II (1976)
    Horseman Leslie Combs II, founder of Spendthrift Farm, was a leading owner and breeder of thoroughbred horses. Combs revitalized the practice of syndicating stallions, beginning with Beau Pere, whom he syndicated to 20 investors for $5,000 each. He later syndicated such champion thoroughbreds as Nashua, Majestic Prince, and Raise a Native. He died in 1990 at the age of 88.
  22. Father Ralph Beiting (1976)
    A conversation with Father Ralph Beiting, a Roman Catholic priest and founder of the Christian Appalachian Project. He began dreaming of helping people in Appalachia help themselves out of poverty in 1946 when, as a seminarian, he accompanied several priests on preaching trips to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.
  23. Harry Caudill (1977)
    Author Harry Caudill is interviewed by Louisville journalist Bob Schulman. Caudill, author of Night Comes to the Cumberlands, is credited with focusing national attention on Appalachia and helping to launch the federal War on Poverty. He died in 1990.
  24. Wilson Wyatt Sr. (1977)
    World War II-era Louisville mayor Wilson Wyatt Sr. also served as lieutenant governor under Bert T. Combs from 1959 to 1963. In 1968, Wyatt played a significant role at the Democratic National Convention by working out a compromise over the party’s platform position on the Vietnam War. He died in 1996.
  25. Carl D. Perkins (1977)
    An interview with U.S. Rep. Carl D. Perkins, a Democrat who served Eastern Kentucky as a member of the House of Representatives for more than three decades. He was still serving in Congress when he died in 1984.
  26. Lillie Chaffin (1979)
    Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet Lillie Chaffin was designated by the state legislature as an associate poet laureate of Kentucky in 1974.
  27. A.D. Albright (1991)
    A.D. Albright was president of Northern Kentucky University during perhaps the most critical period in its early history. He guided the school to maturity, doubling enrollment to more than 10,000 and overseeing $40 million in construction projects that gave an identity to the sprawling Highland Heights campus.
  28. Adron Doran (1991)
    An interview with Adron Doran, former president of Morehead State University and Kentucky House speaker. Between March 1954 and January 1977, Doran grew Morehead’s enrollment from 700 to 7,500 and brought integration to the campus.

Distinguished Kentuckian programs are also available on DVD or videotape from KET; call (800) 945-9167 or e-mail for information.