THE LONGORIA AFFAIR WAS NOT AWARDED AN EMMY!
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Open Letter to the Emmy Committee by Betty Reynolds Dickinson
Editor's Note: When asked about the witness of the pianist, Betty Reynolds Dickinson, who was in the chapel at the time of the meeting between the funeral home director, Tom Kennedy, and Beatrice Longoria, producer John Valadez described her as an "elderly woman" who could not remember the incident. The reality is, Valadez admitted he was blown away by her testimony because it did not fit the story he wanted to tell. His solution - ignore her witness and/or belittle her intellect when her name was mentioned. Below Betty Reynolds Dickinson answers Valadez's demeaning charge with an open letter to the Emmy Committee explaining why The Longoria Affair is not a true historical documentary and, therefore, not qualified for an Emmy nomination in the documentary category.
August 12, 2011
THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF TELEVISION ARTS & SCIENCES
1696 Broadway, Ste 1001
New York, NY 10019
ATTN: Mr. Brent Stanton, Executive Director
Ms. Lauren Saverine, Manager
Mr. Bill Small, Chairman, News & Documentary
Mr. David Winn, Director, News & Documentary
Re: "The Longoria Affair", by John Valadez - Nominated for an Emmy in Historical Documentary Category
Dear Members of the Emmy Nominating Committee:
For more than sixty years it has been apparent to me that the true story of the "Felix Longoria Affair" is deliberately suppressed, perhaps by those who stand to profit by repeating the oft told, yet untrue account. Film producer, John Valadez, continues this tradition in his film, The Longoria Affair. He refuses to include some very important, documented information, which he acknowledged privately to encourage participation in the film by Jane Kennedy, her daughter, and others who were reluctant to participate.
Valadez is suppressing true information. I know because I was in the funeral home at the time of the meeting between Thomas W. Kennedy, Jr. and Beatrice Longoria. I am the last living witness to the conversation between these two people that precipitated the Longoria Incident.
Here are the facts as I heard and understood them:
The funeral home director, Kennedy, did not refuse to bury Felix Longoria. Kennedy actually made the arrangements with Beatrice for the wake and burial of her husband, Felix! Kennedy did discourage use of the chapel for the wake because of a family fight between Beatrice’s boyfriend and her husband’s grieving father. Beatrice asked Kennedy to exclude Felix’s mother and father from Felix’s wake. That is, Beatrice wanted Kennedy to turn Felix’s parents away at the door of his funeral home.
Mr. Kennedy, the funeral home owner, would not agree to this. Instead, out of respect for the Longoria family and a desire to assuage Beatrice’s fear of a family fight during the wake, he tried to make other arrangements that allowed Beatrice to be in control.
I told this to John Valadez in a meeting in my lawyer’s office in the spring of 2009. Valadez asked me many questions, which I answered truthfully. Yet, Valadez excluded my witness of what I saw and heard in the funeral home that day from the film. A query was sent to PBS asking why my witness was excluded. Valadez’s response through ITVS spokesperson, Lois Vossen, to Michael Getler, PBS Ombudsman, was as follows:
You offer as documentation "testimony from the pianist in the chapel, verifying [Beatrice Longoria's] request for exclusion of the [Longoria] family. According to producer John Valadez, he went with Richard Hudson to meet the pianist, Ms. Betty Reynolds. In the research interview [not on camera], Ms. Reynolds said she could not remember such an incident.
John says they spent about a half-hour with the elderly woman, asking in numerous ways if she could remember any incident or argument between Mr. Kennedy and any Hispanic woman. She could not. Valadez concluded that there was simply not enough evidence to support the claim that Beatrice and her in-laws were estranged, or that she requested that they be excluded from the wake for her husband.
John Valadez deliberately and blatantly answered untruthfully! There is a witness and recorded documentation of this meeting in my lawyer’s office.
The family fight is also documented in the report by Shag Floore, Information Specialist, to Lt. Col. Stanley H. Partridge, Fort Worth Quartmaster Corp. This report, available from the LBJ Library and archives in Austin, Texas, gives a full account of the fight between Beatrice’s boyfriend and Felix’s father.
Once again, in a reply to the PBS Ombudsmen, John Valadez states:
The filmmakers did not include a report that was written by an Army Department specialist sent by the American Graves Registration Division. This report was based only on conversations with the town's most "prominent citizens". None of the people interviewed was Hispanic, and the specialist did not speak to Beatrice Longoria or to the Longoria family.
Just hours before driving to Three Rivers with the Director of the Texas Funeral Home Association, Peter Dunne, to investigate the incident, the specialist, Shag Floore, did speak to Dr. Hector P. Garcia, who refused an interview. Valadez did not reveal that Dr. Garcia called the Longoria’s before Floore and Dunne’s arrival to advise them to take their father to Laredo in order to avoid questioning. The evidence is there, but for Valadez, it obviously did not serve the story he chose to convey in the film.
Also of note: When Kennedy and Beatrice met while I was in the funeral home, he had picked her up at the bus stop early that morning. He helped her make arrangements for the wake, funeral, and burial. He took her to the telegraph office to send a telegram, and then, at her request, took her to a “Moreno” relative’s home in lieu of the home of her deceased husband’s parents. Now why would Beatrice go there when her deceased husband’s parents lived only a few houses away? And why did the Longoria’s not pick Beatrice up at the bus station and help her with the funeral arrangements? They confessed they did not know she was even in town much less that she was making arrangements for a wake and funeral for the remains of their deceased son, Felix, until they read it in the newspaper! And why did she not spend the night with Felix's parents? These are questions that were discussed which Valadez chose not to investigate and include in his emotionally charged film.
There are many other important facts left out in this film which are addressed at www.longoriaaffairrevealed.com. Go there and read supportable facts left out of the documentary. Then ask yourself why Valadez excluded this information? Valadez used information from one source: the Hector P. Garcia papers and books written from them. The Longoria Affair manipulates or omits all other sources.
Is The Longoria Affair really a historical documentary? Does it truly meet the guidelines established by the National Endowment for the Humanities for a historical documentary? Read their guidelines; consider the above facts, visit www.longoriaaffairrevealed.com, and then you decide if The Longoria Affair should be considered for an Emmy? I do not.
Betty (Reynolds) Dickinson
Concert Pianist Music Studio, 33 years Accountant -- Public Business & Ranching Interests Presently serving on three Committees, appointed by McMullen County Court o McMullen County Historical Commission, Vice-Chair o McMullen County Museum Commission, Vice-President o McMullen County Cemetery Association, Member Co-founder/Former President of Celebration Arts & Music of Live Oak County Founding Member/Former President of Coastal Plains Music Teachers Association
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.
The Longoria Affair Revealed, Betty Reynolds Dickinson, "Open Letter to THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF TELEVISION ARTS & SCIENCES," accessed at, https://www.longoriaaffairrevealed.com/reynolds-dickinson-s-open-letter-to-emmy-committee/.
Uploaded on August 12, 2011. Modified on November 9, 2015. Published by Agarita Publishing..