Meet the Parents: Brad Place, Father of: Actress Mary Kay Place
Age: 88, Occupation: Retired University of Tulsa graphic design professor
Most dog-eared book?Burke Davis.
Favorite thing about Tulsa?
What brought you to Tulsa? I came to teach at The University of Tulsa in 1947. I taught graphic design for 39 years there and was chairman of the art department for 26 years. During that time I also taught art once a month to inmates at the state penitentiary in McAlester from 1970 to 1973. Prior to my career in arts and teaching, I was in the Marine Corps.
What’s the most pleasure you get out of teaching? Seeing talented people get jobs. I like helping them find jobs and helping them get those jobs.
Are you still in touch with any of your students? I have a few groups of past students that call to have lunch with me now and then. It’s nice to keep up with them. The walls of my home are filled with art my students have created for me or given to me.
Anything in your field that has surprised you? In 1960, I was president of the Art Directors Club and we had a computer expert come speak to us. He wanted to tell us what computers would do for us, such as airbrushing and so on. I said, “That’ll never, ever replace an artist. A machine can’t replace a creator.” The TU art department got 28 Mac computers a couple years before I retired. It’s amazing how it’s changed things.
Biggest pet peeve? Getting old. And seeing how much the times are changing. There’s an old saying, “born 30 years too soon,” and I’m starting to see that now — just how much more life offers as time goes on. But, really, I’m just thankful to be healthy still.
Favorite quote? There’s a plaque on my wall that reads, “Live well, love much, laugh often.” I really do try to live my life that way.
Who would play you in a movie? Oh, I guess Jack Nicholson. People used to say I looked like him, and he’s a favorite actor of mine.
Favorite family ritual? We all get together at least a couple times a year, either in Denver, where my oldest son (Brad Place Jr.) is, or L.A., where Mary Kay is.
Something people don’t know about Mary Kay? How much of a perfectionist she is in her work.
Any nicknames for Mary Kay? Caddo. Her brother came up with it, and I have no idea where it comes from.
Do you prefer Mary Kay’s acting, singing or writing? I really like her acting. I have all her work.
What was your reaction the first time you saw her on film? I couldn’t hardly believe it. The first film I really enjoyed was “The Big Chill.” Her younger brother (Ken) was in it, too. He played a highway patrolman. They also both appeared in “More American Graffiti.”
Were you instrumental in Mary Kay’s decision to become an actress? No. A professor at TU told her if she really wanted to do anything in that line of business, she needed to go to L.A. So, after she graduated, she went. She started as a gopher at CBS.
Mary Kay attended The University of Tulsa. Was that because of you? Mary Kay wanted to go to Northwestern in Chicago. I told her to go to TU for one year, and if she still wanted to go and didn’t like TU, then she could go to Northwestern. She loved TU. She lived in the dorms and worked at Pappagallo’s.
Any roles you are excited to see Mary Kay play? I’m anxious to see a film she just finished working on in New York with Steve Martin, Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. I don’t think they have a name for it yet, but it sounds good. Nancy Meyers wrote and directed it.
Proudest moment? Having all the kids together for Christmas.
Most embarrassing moment? I try not to have any.
Plans for Father’s Day? I ought to hear from all of them. They always call and send cards. “Marine! The life of Chesty Puller” by The people. I didn’t say that for a long time because I’m from Texas, but I wouldn’t trade Tulsa for anything.