Famous Alumnae

Caro Crawford Brown – Pulitzer Prize Winner

Caro won the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 1955 for her articles in the Alice Daily Echo which brought decades of corruption and terrorism to an end in Duval County, Texas. She was the fourth woman winner of the prize.

Caro attended the College of Industrial Arts in 1925-26. She was sent home in disgrace for breaking three rules. Caro rode in an automobile with a man without the proper written permissions; she and her date went to a Fort Worth nightclub; and she was out of uniform. (TWU publication)

Louise Ritter – Olympic Gold Medal Athlete

Louise won the gold medal in the women’s high jump at the 1988 summer games in Seoul, South Korea, her third time as an Olympian. She set a new women’s Olympic record in high jump at 6’8”. She was the first American woman to bring home the gold in the women’s high jump since 1956.

Louise, a Texas native, graduated from TWU in 1982. While attending the school, she set the new collegiate women’s high jump record her freshman year (1976) and won national collegiate championships in 1977, 1978, and 1979.

Brenda Marshall (1915-1992) – Film Actress

Born Ardis Ankerson September 29, 1915, on Negros Island, Philippines, Brenda became a ravishing brunette leading lady of Hollywood films in the 1940s. Her first memorable performance was as Errol Flynn’s love interest in The Sea Hawk (1940).

Films include: Espionage Agent 1939; The Sear Hawk, The Man Who Talked Too Much, Money and the Woman, East of the River, South of Suez 1940; Footsteps in the Dark, Singapore Woman, Highway West, The Smiling Ghost 1941; Captains of the Clouds 1942; The Constant Nymph, Paris After Dark, Background to Danger 1943; Something for the Boys 1944; Whispering Smith 1949; The Iroquois Trail 1950. (The Film Encyclopedia)

Ardis Ankerson attended Texas State College for Women her freshman and sophomore years, 1934-1935. She was named the Freshman Class Beauty in 1934, chosen by modern dancer Ted Shawn. (Daedalian)

Anne Rice (1941) – Novelist

Best-selling author of mainstream gothic fiction that centers on the alluring subjects of vampirism, occult demonology, and the supernatural (Gale Literary Databases). Works include the Vampire Chronicles series, Interview with the Vampire (1976) and The Vampire Lestat (1985) among others. In her novel The Witching Hour, one of her characters attends Texas Woman’s University.

From The Witching Hour, a Mr. Lightner who is following Dierdre, comments about TWU:

“I arrived in Denton two days later. Texas Woman’s University was a lovely little school situated on low rolling green hills with vine-covered brick buildings, and neatly tended lawns. It was quite impossible to believe that it was a state institution.” (The Witching Hour, p. 556.)

Howard Anne Rice, daughter of Howard and Katherine O’Brien, was born in New Orleans. In the late 1950s, the family moved to Plano, Texas. Rice attended TWU in 1959-1960. She completed her education at San Francisco State College.

Millie Hughes-Fulford (1945-2021) – Astronaut, Civilian Scientist in space

A native of Mineral Wells, Texas, Millie Hughes-Fulford was among the first women civilian scientists in space when she flew aboard the Spacelab Life Science 1, which launched on June 5, 1991. Her job in space was to test the changes that take place in microgravity. They took 2000 tiny jellyfish, 30 rats, and 30 mice on the nine-day mission. She said that the animal’s bones stopped growing. Looking at the cages holding the rats, she said the rats clung to the cage for the first two days. On the third day, “they were floating on their backs asleep.”

Millie graduated from Texas Woman’s University in 1972 with a Doctorate degree in biochemistry. When she first arrived at TWU, she came with a three-month-old daughter. The other graduate schools considered her a “high risk.”  “TWU didn’t say that,” she said.

Margo Jones (1912-1955) – Producer, director

Born in Livingston, Texas, Margo Jones was considered a pioneer in the regional theater movement and called for Broadway-quality professional companies across the country. Her influential 1951 book, advocated low-budget, high impact staging for regional companies. She founded the first nonprofit professional resident company in Dallas – one of the first in the nation – the Dallas Civic Theatre in 1944. She premiered the works of new playwrights, including Tennessee Williams, William Inge, and William Saroyan in Dallas. (Dallas Morning News)

Margo graduated from the College of Industrial Arts in 1932 with a B.S. in speech. C.I.A. did not offer a master’s program in speech, so Jones obtained her M.A. in psychology in 1932.

Ann Williams (1937- ) – Director of Dallas Black Dance Theatre

Williams was born in Livingston Co., Texas. After teaching first in the Dallas public schools, Williams received her M.A. in dance from TWU and began teaching at Dallas’ Bishop College where she established the South Dallas Academy of Dance. In 1976, she left Bishop College and established the Dallas Black Dance Theatre, a modern dance company that showcases the talents and abilities of young Black dancers in the metroplex. (Dallas Morning News)

Ann graduated in 1965 with a master’s degree in Dance. She was the first black to receive a graduate degree in dance from TWU. Ann Williams served on the TWU Board of Regents and as President of the TWU Alumnae Association.

Helen Gurley Brown (1945-2012) – Writer and Editor of Cosmopolitan

Born in Green Forest, Arkansas, Helen Gurley Brown gained her fame in 1962 with the publication of Sex and the Single Girl, Brown’s international best-seller, which seemed to encapsulate the new mood of independence and excitement which greater earning power had brought to many women. Helen was Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine from 1965 until her semi-retirement thirty years later.

Helen Gurley attended Texas State College for Women in 1939- 1941. She also attended Woodbury College in 1942. She received her LLD. From Woodbury University in 1987.

Francis Ray (1944-2013) – Romance Novelist

After publishing sixteen short stories, Francis Ray sold her first book, Fallen Angel, on Christmas Eve 1992. Since that date, Ms. Ray has written more than 16 books and sold more than 40 million copies, most multicultural romances. A successful romance writer, Ray’s career also included working as a School Nurse Practitioner. She lived in Dallas with her family up until her death in 2013.

Francis Radford Ray received her B.S. in Nursing from TWU in 1967.