Visit the Lonesome Dove exhibit at Texas State
Clara My Love, My Dearest,
As I slip from this world, your clear eyes and face are the only imprint on my mind. I do possess a certain fear of what is to come, but your precious and immediate love will help comfort my journey into the vast unknown. If I were to speak anymore, I would proclaim you as the one true love of my life.
If Gus McCrae could speak today, he might express awe as Lonesome Dove fans from all over the world make their way to the Wittliff Collections at Texas State University in San Marcos to see original props, screenplay drafts, photographs, and even his own one-legged corpse prop from the miniseries.
Bill Wittliff, Lonesome Dove’s co-executive producer and screenwriter, donated every draft of his screenplay, adapted from Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, along with his photographs from the movie set, as part of the Collections he founded with his wife, Sally. He persuaded other Lonesome Dove crew members to do the same, resulting in a unique and extraordinary archive intended to inspire writers, photographers, and filmmakers. The Lonesome Dove Collection represents the entire production record of the miniseries, and much of the material is on permanent display in the Lonesome Dove exhibition room at Texas State’s Alkek Library.
Lonesome Dove fans can marvel at the Hat Creek Cattle Company sign declaring “We don’t rent pigs,” complete outfits worn by Tommy Lee Jones and Robert Duvall (as Woodrow F. Call and Augustus “Gus” McCrae), and examine the portrait of the three Texas Rangers that hung in the San Antonio bar where Gus taught a surly bartender a lesson. As visitors move through the exhibition, the movie’s soundtrack plays softly in the background, evoking the 1870s and the presence of the beloved characters who pushed the herd north to Montana.
Admission to the Wittliff Collections—including the Lonesome Dove room—is free, and walk-ins are welcome. However, calling ahead is strongly advised, as the Wittliff Collections may close during college breaks and holidays and as hours are subject to change. To request a tour, simply ask the Wittliff desk attendant on the seventh floor of the Alkek Library. Michele Miller, Wittliff Collections’ publications specialist, says, “We’ve given tours to folks from all over the world—as far away as Norway.”
The Lonesome Dove collection makes up only a fraction of the Wittliff Collections at Texas State. “What we hope is that, when folks visit the Lonesome Dove exhibition, they will be amazed and delighted by what else is actually here,” Michele explains. The Wittliff Collections’ public spaces occupy 6,600 square feet that spotlight the literature, film, music, and photography of this region—preserved for the discovery and encouragement of students, scholars, researchers, and the public at large.
“The main thing for me is that [the Wittliff Collections] be a place of inspiration for someone who has the itch to create but not yet the courage,” Bill Wittliff says.
The Wittliff Collections are located in the Albert B. Alkek Library at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas. For more information, visit www.thewittliffcollections.txstate.edu or call 512-245-2313.
Gus’s letter to Clara exists only in the Wittliff Collections. The words are neither in the novel nor in the movie. They were improvised by Robert Duvall during the scene in which Gus lies on his deathbed writing his last missives. Duvall could have merely scribbled on that paper as the cameras were rolling, because the shot did not reveal his actual writing. Instead, Duvall, the consummate actor, writes a real letter as Gus.