1961-1964: Buford Pusser was the Adamsville Chief Of Police..
1964-1970: Buford Pusser was the McNairy County Sheriff..
~~~During his time as Sheriff, Buford Pusser jailed over 7500 criminals, was stabbed seven times and shot eight times!
August 12, 1967, Bufford Pusser and his wife were ambushed; she was killed; he was shot in the face!
Buford Pusser wrestled in and around the Chicago area on weekends while he worked at a factory during the week..
Buford Pusser inspired the 1970s hit movie "Walking Tall" and it's 2004 re-make starring The Rock..
Buford Pusser has a biography called "The Twelfth Of August" where he broke kayfabe by mentioning the matches being rigged.
August 21,1974: Buford Pusser died in an automobile accident.
~~~Actor Joe Don Baker & Elvis Presley (among others) attended his funeral.
~~~Daughter Dwana Pusser Garrison (and her husband) continue to run Buford Pusser's restaurant in Tennessee.
Life and careerBuford Pusser was born on December 12, 1937 in Finger, McNairy County, Tennessee. His father, Carl Pusser, was the police chief of Adamsville, Tennessee, and his mother was Helen Pusser. Buford was a high school star football and basketball player. He stood 6 feet 6 inches (1.98 m).
Pusser served as the Adamsville police chief and constable from 1962 to 1964. He then ran for, and won, the office of McNairy County, Tennessee, sheriff in August 1964 becoming, at age 26, the youngest sheriff in state history. His predecessor as sheriff, James Dickey, died in a car accident about two weeks before the election. As sheriff, Pusser targeted criminal elements of the Dixie Mafia and the State Line Mob.
Jack Hathcock was a high-ranking member of the State Line Mob. He ran The Shamrock, a restaurant, motel and dance hall near Corinth, Mississippi, which straddled the Mississippi/Tennessee state line. The restaurant had opened in 1950, with services including illegal gambling and prostitution. The Shamrock had a reputation for violence towards any patron who complained about crooked games. The restaurant was also the focal point for organized crime, especially bootlegging. Public records show that Jack was killed on May 22, 1964 by his ex-wife, Louise, although it was rumored that the real killer was Carl Douglas "Towhead" White. White was the infamous leader of the State Line Mob. Louise successfully claimed self defense and eventually became White's mistress.
Pusser survived several assassination attempts. On February 1, 1966, Louise Hathcock attempted to kill Pusser during an on-site investigation of a robbery complaint at The Shamrock. Hathcock fired on Pusser with a concealed .38 pistol. Pusser returned fire and killed Hathcock. On January 2, 1967, Pusser was shot three times by an unidentified gunman.
Already a local hero, Pusser's "war" on the State Line Mob was brought to national prominence when his wife, Pauline, was killed on August 12, 1967, during an assassination ambush intended for him. Pusser named Kirksey McCord Nix Jr. as the contractor of his wife's killers, but Nix was never charged with the crime.
Pusser shot and killed Charles Russell Hamilton on December 25, 1968, after responding to a complaint that Hamilton had threatened his landlord with a gun.
Pusser was ineligible for re-election in 1970 due to the term limit then in effect. He was defeated in his bid as sheriff in 1972. Pusser blamed the loss to incumbent Sheriff Clifford Coleman in part on the controversy surrounding the making of the semi-autobiographical movie, Walking Tall. He was again elected as constable of Adamsville by a majority of voters who wrote in his name on their ballots. He served as constable for two more years (1970–1972).
No autopsy of Pusser's body was performed. As sheriff, Pusser survived seven stabbings and eight shootings.
Pusser's memorial service was held at the Adamsville Church of Christ.
Murder of Pauline PusserOn the pre-dawn morning of August 12, 1967, Pusser's phone rang, informing him of a disturbance call on New Hope Road in McNairy County. He responded, with his wife Pauline joining him for this particular ride. Shortly after they passed the New Hope Methodist on New Hope Road, two cars came alongside Pusser's; the occupants opened fire, killing his wife and leaving Pusser, who had suffered a shotgun wound to the face, for dead. He spent eighteen days in the hospital before returning home, and would need several surgeries to restore his appearance.
Pusser vowed to bring all involved with his wife's death to justice. He identified four assassins: Louise Hathcock's former boyfriend, Carl Douglas "Towhead" White, George McGann, Gary McDaniel, and Kirksey Nix. Beverly Oliver, George McGann's wife, claimed in 1970 that she was the famously mysterious Babushka Lady who appears with her own movie camera in the Zapruder film of the actual Kennedy Assassination.
On April 4, 1969, the person who paid for the hit, Carl Douglas "Towhead" White was gunned down in front of the El Ray Motel on U.S. Highway 45 in Corinth, Mississippi. The alleged triggerman was a small-time hood named Berry Smith. (Author W.R. Morris wrote in 1990 that Pusser himself had hired a hit man who killed White with one shotgun blast to the head.)
In late 1970, both McDaniel and McGann were found shot to death in Texas. According to Edward Humes in Mississippi Mud, Pusser was suspected by some law enforcement officials of having killed both.
Pusser never brought Kirksey Nix to justice. Nix was sentenced to Angola State Prison in Louisiana for the Easter Saturday, 1971 murder of a New Orleans grocer, Frank J. Corso. Nix was later involved in the 1987 murder-for-hire killing of Judge Vincent Sherry and his wife Margaret, in Biloxi, Mississippi. His conspirator, Biloxi Mayor Pete Halat, had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars from Nix and blamed it on his law partner, Vincent Sherry. Nix ordered a hit from prison and was later sentenced to isolation for the rest of his life. Nix has repeatedly refused to comment about Pusser's claims that he was one of his wife's killers.
The 1973 movie Walking Tall was dedicated to Pusser. Based on Pusser's true story, it was a combination of loosely based fact and Hollywood revisionism. This has since become a well known cult classic (with two direct sequels of its own, a TV movie, A Real American Hero, and a brief TV series, also called Walking Tall).
On a 2004 episode of the HBO drama The Wire titled "Moral Midgetry", Baltimore Police Detectives Jimmy McNulty and Kima Greggs leave Baltimore for Virginia where McNulty derogatorily refers to the southern sheriff as Buford Pusser.
A remake by the same name was released in 2004 as a somewhat less realistic and more mainstream film. Also dedicated to Pusser, the remake stars Dwayne Johnson and again takes liberties with the story, giving the action a more modern setting and premise. Coincidentally, like Pusser, Johnson has had a background in professional wrestling although his character in the film did not. In this version the main character is not referred to as Buford Pusser but as Chris Vaughn.
Drive-By Truckers wrote songs about the events surrounding Pusser's wife's death and his colorful tenure as sheriff for their 2004 album, The Dirty South. The album contains a three-song suite, "The Boys from Alabama", "Cottonseed" and "The Buford Stick", that purport to tell "the other side of that story".
Jimmy Buffett references a run-in he had with Pusser in the lyrics of 2 of his songs: "Presents to Send You" ("But my last little bout/I had my hair pulled out/by a man who really wasn't my friend") and "Semi-True Stories" ("A walkin' tall sheriff/and a big Cadillac/and me in my golf shoes/on the hood makin' tracks/this daring young singer/was under attack").
After the success of the 2004 film, Walking Tall: The Payback was released in 2007 direct-to-video. The main character (Kevin Sorbo)'s name was changed to Nick Prescott, and the movie was set in the Dallas area. Later that year on September 25, 2007 Kevin Sorbo returned in Walking Tall: Lone Justice.
In a November 16, 2007 column, Bill Simmons, "the Sports Guy," compared NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to Pusser. Comedian and talk-radio host Dennis Miller occasionally refers to a "Buford Pusser Stick" on his radio show, in reference to a fictional scene from the movie Walking Tall where Pusser uses a stick to beat up everyone in a roadhouse
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