Original Air Date
Original WKMS Program interview aired on
Sounds Good, WKMS
Original WKMS story description
Man O' War is widely considered one of the greatest race horses of all time and turns 100 today. Man O' War won an incredible 20 of 21 races in 1919 and 1920 and sired multiple champion horses including Triple Crown winner War Admiral. The famous horse also has a distant connection to a Murray State alum who became a Hollywood actor and collector. On Sounds Good, Matt Markgraf speaks with Murray State Special Collections & Exhibits Librarian Sarah Hopley about Man O War's family ties to Hal Riddle.
Sarah Hopley said the connection is "distant" but a connection none-the-less. The owner of Man O' War was Samuel Riddle, the nephew of Hal Riddle's great great great grandfather. Hal is a Murray State alum and Hollywood memorabilia collector. His expansive collection is on exhibit in Wrather Museum.
Tracing the genealogy, Hal's father was Forrest (born and raised in Kentucky). His father was William (born in Pennsylvania and moved to Kentucky). William's father was George - one of three children of James Riddle, the brother of Sam Riddle Sr., father of the Sam Riddle that owned Man O' War. [Note: Murray State's Pogue Library has a substantial genealogy center.]
Sam was from Pennsylvania. His father was an Irish immigrant who came to America in 1825. Born in 1871, Sam had many interests including horse racing. He purchased Man O' War from a farm in Saratoga Springs, New York, brought the horse to Pennsylvania and wintered him in Lexington. Sam owned Man O' War in the three years he ran.
Hal Riddle was born in 1919 in Fulton, Kentucky. His father was the manager of the local telephone company. He came to Murray State and graduated in 1942. The story goes his father handed him a draft card as he walked of the stage having received his diploma. Hal served in the Navy and came back to work in New York. He attended a play school, including rooming with Jack Lemmon, before moving to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television.
Hal donated his collection to MSU before he died in 2009 and had a role in creating the exhibit. There are several autographed photos of actors on display from Kevin Spacey and Tom Hanks to Clark Gable and Billie Dove.
Sounds Good, Matt Markgraf, WKMS
Hopley, Sarah; Markgraf, Matt; and WKMS, "Tracing Man O' War's Family Connection to a Murray State 'Hollywood' Alum" (2017). Special Collections on WKMS. 12.