HBO will be debuting an incendiary documentary on the life and achievements of former Texas Governor Ann Richards, who passed away in 2007 at the age of 73 from esophageal cancer. Richards, a Democrat in a state long held by conservative Republicans, rose from an impoverished childhood in Lakeview, Texas, and moved through Dallas and eventually to Austin, where she realized her political aspirations. Her career was colored by her impeccable wit and hard hitting humor, and her unending confidence as she utilized mistakes of male colleagues to prove herself worthy of her position. Her career and public presence expanded the representation of women within a conservative democracy, and marked a historical moment in women's rights, both with her presences in a powerful political position, and the strides she made in women's issues as Governor.
Richards launched her political career in the late 1970s, and by 1983 had become Texas’ first female state treasurer, revamping an antiquated system and demonstrating unique leadership skills. In 1988, she gained national attention for her rousing keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. Sparing no Republican, including President George Bush, she famously exclaimed, “Poor George, he can’t help it. He was born with a silver foot in his mouth!”
Richards’ sense of humor and sharp timing compelled people to pay attention. President Clinton observes, “You always gotta be careful...You don’t wanna be too cutting…But it’s incredibly disarming and it makes it hard for people not to listen to you.
Richards overcame daunting odds to win the bitter 1990 race for Texas governor. In the three-way Democratic primary, her foes came after her hard – even feeding press rumors about cocaine use – but she knew that if you “play with the big boys, you gotta take it like they did.” She was open about her treatment for alcoholism, saying of one of her opponents, “I wish there were a treatment program for meanness.”
ALL ABOUT ANN features interviews with close friends, family members and admirers, including former husband David Richards, daughter Cecile and son Dan, Bill Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, Dan Rather, Tom Brokaw, Michael Dukakis and Liz Smith, as well as Claire Korioth, her campaign consultant, Mary Beth Rogers, her chief of staff, Suzanne Coleman, a longtime speechwriter, Ronald Kirk, former mayor of Dallas, and Henry Cisneros, former mayor of San Antonio.
The film will premiere on HBO on Monday, April 28 at 9:00 pm ET, and will additionally run April 28 at 4:45 AM, May 1 at 4:45 PM, May 4 at 2:00 PM, May 7 at 8:30 AM, and May 10 and 10:15 AM. ALL ABOUT ANN will also be available for viewing on HBO2: April 30 at 8:00 PM, May 13 at 5:45 PM and May 20 at 12:40 PM.
Images via Texas State Library and Archives Commission.