Famed Screenwriter James Bridges was a College Twirler in 1950s

James Bridges was a feature twirler for Arkansas State Teachers College from 1955-1957. Today, the college is known as the University of Central Arkansas.

Hollywood Writer

Bridges was born in Little Rock in 1936; however, his birthplace is sometimes listed as Paris, Arkansas. After attending college, he moved to Hollywood where he found work as an actor and sold ice cream part-time. Eventually, he enjoyed a successful career as a screenwriter, producer and director. He is best known for his work on The China Syndrome, Urban Cowboy and Paper Chase.  

Death

Bridges died of cancer in 1993. He was only 57. After his death, his friends and life partner, Jack Larson, established the James Bridges Performing Arts Scholarship Fund at UCA. Also, the James Bridges Collection in the UCA archives, the source of these pictures.  

Jimmy Mac Bridges (Jim Mac)

Interestingly, Bridges is identified as Jim MacBridges in the UCA archive on the college’s website and on Flickr. In college he was called “Jim Mac.” 

High School

In his 1951 Paris High School (Arkansas) yearbook, Bridges is listed as Jimmy Mac (or Mack) Bridges. His freshman year he was elected Mr. Junior High. He was also the drum major and led the school’s marching band. 

Speaking of drum major, Bridges is frequently referred to as a drum major instead of a baton twirler or feature twirler in the UCA Archives. The photos below indicate that he was not technically the drum major, although they may have called him that. The young man who appears to have led the band is identified in the archive as the field director. Unfortunately, they don’t list his name. 

Successful

Is Bridges the most successful male twirler post twirling that the United States has produced? Let us know what you think in the comments. In terms of his performance in competitive twirling, I have not been able to locate any records. 

Finally, Bridges’ Wikipedia entry mentions nothing about his baton twirling. I was a Wikipedia editor for about five minutes (ha) back in the day. It seems I need to excavate those login credentials because baton twirling is ommitted from a lot entries where it probably should be included.  

Jim MacBridges, twirling two batons, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1957

Twirling two batons, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1957

Helen Owen, Jim MacBridges, and Syble Owen posing with batons, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1957

Twirling two batons, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1957

Jim MacBridges, drum major, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1957

Jim Bridges, drum major, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1957

Jimmy Mac Bridges Arkansas 1951
Helen Owen, majorette, Jim MacBridges, drum major, unidentified man, field director, Arkansas State Teachers College, c. 1957

Helen Owen, majorette with Bridges, drum major and unidentified man, field director, Arkansas State Teachers College, c. 1957

Band on the steps of Old Main, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1957
Helen Owen, majorette, Jim MacBridges, drum major, unidentified man, field director, Arkansas State Teachers College, c. 1957

Helen Owen, 1957

Jim MacBridges, twirling two batons, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1957
Helen Owen Hendrickson, majorette, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1958

Helen Owen Hendrickson, majorette, Arkansas State Teachers College, 1958

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