Today@Sam - SHSU Campus News Online Sam Houston State University Seal
In the News
SHSU Homepage

SHSU Experts
SHSU Stats
Sam the Man
SHSU History
Austin Hall

Heritage Magazine
Huntsville Item
The Houstonian
Gov. Links
Useful Links
Theater & Dance
SHSU Athletics
Rec. Sports
Request Info
General Info
Then & Now
The President
Public Relations
Post Office
Search SHSU

Frank Q. Dobbs, Distinguished Alum, Dies at 66

Frank Q. Dobbs

Frank Q. Dobbs, 66, one of the most creative persons ever produced by Huntsville, Huntsville High School, and Sam Houston State University, died last week in Houston from cancer.

The Frank Q. Dobbs Mass Communication Memorial Scholarship fund has been established in his memory. Dobbs spoke many times with SHSU journalism and radio/television/film students, and had been planning to return in March.

Dobbs was an award-winning screenwriter, producer and director who earned national acclaim for playing an instrumental role in bringing the glamour of the motion picture industry to the land he loved most, Texas.

He had returned home to Houston from Hollywood to begin work on establishing a new film production company in Texas when he lost his battle with cancer on Feb. 15.

Dobbs always said, "Making movies is thousands of hours of monotony, interrupted by moments of madness and an occasional frame or two of pure magic." He specialized in the magic.

He began his career at KPRC-TV Channel 2, the NBC affiliate in Houston, becoming the director of special projects writing, producing and directing numerous award-winning documentaries. Dobbs, along with legendary Ch. 2 newsman Ray Miller, created and filmed the ground breaking, on-the-road television magazine series, "Eyes of Texas," which became one of the State's most successful syndicated television programs.

Dobbs was known as a great storyteller, whether holding court on location or on a street corner, writing a script or letting the camera portray a visual image. Even while growing up in Huntsville, he always knew his life would be forever linked to film.

On Saturday afternoons, he'd sit in a darkened movie theater and dream of being a part of the motion picture industry. He had no desire to be actor: "I wanted to be the man behind the screen, the man who told the camera where to look and the actors what to say."         

He sold popcorn at the movie theater, saved his money and bought a movie camera, charging his friends to be in his films. At Sam Houston State University, he majored in journalism and earned 50 cents an hour producing recruiting films for the college.

He and his friends made western movies, complete with a stagecoach and authentic western clothing.

After two years as an officer in the United States Army, Dobbs began his journey to Hollywood, serving as a newspaper reporter and editor and a television news cameraman. He won Newsfilm Cameraman of the Year for "Passage to Prudhoe," and earned Emmys for documentaries "Tell It Like It Is" and "A.K.A. Billy The Kidd".

With MFC Films in Houston, Dobbs' celebrated film work won him the Blue Ribbon Award, three Best of Shows, five Golden Eagles, two Chris Statues and a Special Jury Award for Writing. His vision ultimately took him to Hollywood, where he worked on the set of "Gunsmoke."

It wasn't glamorous; he had the chore of holding the reins of horses for the actors between takes. In time, Dobbs turned loose of the horses and began writing scripts for "Gunsmoke." He was always driven by his belief that "luck is the head-on, three-way collision between opportunity, preparation and persistence. Without all three, you might as well be buying lottery tickets."

His talent as a producer and director covered many genres and carried him around the world. He filmed extensively in Canada and South Africa. On one trip through Huntsville he told friends he was on his way to Thailand, to save a floundering film project there. He left Thailand only hours before the deadly Tsunami devastated the landscape where cameras had been rolling only a day earlier.

His work as producer and director included "King Solomon's Mines" "A Place Called Home," "Hotwire," "Mysterious   Island," "Arthur Hailey's Detective," "Night of the Wolf," and "Love Comes Softly." A low-budget horror film that Dobbs and several friends made long before he trekked to Hollywood, "Enter the Devil," has become an international cult classic.

However, Dobbs' heart always lay with Westerns. For decades, Alamo Village in Brackettville and the high mountain range touching Lajitas and surrounding Big Bend National Park were his personal sound stage. His "Houston: the Legend of Texas," won the Wrangler Trophy for creating, co-writing and producing the CBS special about Texas hero Sam Houston.

"Rio Diablo," was honored as the top rated television movie for CBS in 1993. Dobbs' script for "Gambler V: Playing for Keeps" earned a place in the Motion Picture Hall of Fame.

Due to the success of the Kenny Rogers series, Dobbs was asked to co-author two books on the Gambler character, "Jokers Are Wild" and "Dead Man's Walk."

Dobbs served as producer for two films written and developed by Larry McMurtry, "Streets of Laredo" and "Dead Man's Walk" for Hallmark Worldwide. He was also a producer for "The Last Cowboy," "Johnson County War," "Texas Rangers," "Rough Riders" and "The Legend of Billy the Kid."

He wrote the screenplay for "Hard Ground," "The Magnificent Seven" television series and "Smokey and the Good Time Outlaws." And he both wrote and directed "Uphill All the Way."

Dobbs was a member of the Director's Guild of America, the Writer's Guild of America, Motion Picture Producers of Texas and the American Film Institute.

Thousands throughout the state, national and international film industry knew him, and respected the hard work, the creativity and the professionalism he brought to his craft. For so many, Dobbs was the one who guided them during their early, turbulent years within the industry.

His films and achievements notwithstanding, Dobbs said he was more proud of those he had trained and mentored, many from Texas, watching them become successful writers, producers, directors, film editors, sound technicians and cinematographers in their own right.

In 1989 he was presented the Distinguished Alumni Award by Sam Houston State University. Contributions to the Frank Q. Dobbs Mass Communications Memorial Scholarship Fund may be made to: Office of University Advancement; SHSU Box 2537; Huntsville, TX 77341.         

Dobbs is survived by his daughter, Holly Dobbs Arnold; son-in-law, Johnny Arnold; brother, Ronald Dobbs; nieces, Kristi Bumpass and Erin Sullivan; nephew, David Dobbs; and many friends. A memorial service is planned in March.


SHSU Media Contact: Frank Krystyniak
Feb. 20, 2006
Please send comments, corrections, news tips to

This page maintained by SHSU's Office of Public Relations
Director: Frank Krystyniak
Assistant Director: Julia May
Writer: Jennifer Gauntt
Located in the 115 Administration Building
Telephone: 936.294.1836; Fax: 936.294.1834