East side of the 1600 block of Vine Street
John Reagan "Tex" McCrary was a radio and television host and a publicist who masterminded the political rally that helped launch Dwight D. Eisenhower's presidential campaign in 1952.
With his wife, the actress and model Jinx Falkenburg, McCrary pioneered talk radio programming with the morning show "Hi Jinx" in 1946. The next year the popular couple branched out to television with "At Home." From then on, they alternated between the two, using the same basic format for both. Their shows combined news, celebrity interviews and household tips.
McCrary met Falkenburg in 1941 when he interviewed her for a column he wrote for the Mirror, a New York daily. She had a role in a Broadway musical, "Hold on to Your Hats." They met again during the war when she was on tour with the USO, entertaining troops overseas. The couple married in June 1945.
That year, McCrary was among the first Americans to visit Hiroshima after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He advised journalists not to report on Hiroshima because Americans would be shocked by reports on the damage incurred. Journalist John Hersey wrote a full description of the bombing and the effects for the New Yorker magazine. It was made into a book in 1946.
At a rally in Madison Square Garden, headed by McCrary, Broadway idols Ethel Merman and Mary Martin performed to a crowd of at least 18,000. McCrary helped lead the chant, "We like Ike." Several weeks later, Eisenhower declared his candidacy. McCrary took a leave of absence from television to help get him elected in 1952.
One of McCrary's most successful public relations efforts came years later in Moscow, when he produced a display for the 1959 American National Exhibition. The model of the typical American kitchen became the backdrop for the "kitchen debate" between visiting Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev.
Pictures of the encounter captured Nixon, who would soon be running for president, poking his finger into the chest of the Soviet leader, the subtext being that in the Cold War, Nixon would stand up to the Communist menace.
Later in his career, McCrary worked as a public relations consultant with clients as varied as Learjet and the government of Argentina. He supported Nixon in the early days of Watergate and later campaigned for Republican candidate Ronald Reagan in 1980. He tried to convince Gen. Colin Powell to run for the office in 1996, comparing him to Eisenhower for his leadership abilities. Powell decided against running.
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