Ellie Wilson, the talented, lovable Betty White of Lamesa - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Ellie Wilson, the talented, lovable Betty White of Lamesa

Lamesa Legend Ellie Wilson (Source: KCBD Video) Lamesa Legend Ellie Wilson (Source: KCBD Video)
Source: Lamesa Community Players Source: Lamesa Community Players
Lamesa Community Players (Source: KCBD Video) Lamesa Community Players (Source: KCBD Video)
LAMESA, TX (KCBD) -

Sandra Adams is part of the Lamesa Chamber of Commerce. She says, "It is amazing how much talent we have in this little town."

And you'll find a lot of that talent growing inside a beautiful building with a black awning over the front door at 214 N. Austin. In big letters across the top, it says The Lamesa Community Players, which first opened its doors in 1981.

That's about when Ellie Wilson changed her life by joining the players.

At the time, she was in her mid-50s. Her next birthday will be 90.

And she is still walking up the stairs into the LCP theater as often as she can…looking for bright lights and applause.

She says, "They bring out the ham in me. I love it."

The LCP is a volunteer community theater under the devoted direction of Gwen Allison who comes up with at least three productions every year in Lamesa.

And she will tell you that Ellie is one of her biggest stars.

We stepped into the theater to listen in on a rehearsal. Ellie and Shelly Barron were role playing in a couple of chairs on the stage.

Ellie said, "Do you remember when I was riding with Mildred the other day and she ran the red light? And I said, Mildred, you ran a red light.  And she said, 'I was driving?'"

That brought a laugh and applause from some folks watching in the theater.

One man even hollered, "You still got it, Ellie!"

As a director, Gwen says this about Ellie, "She is one of the quickest studies for memorizing script that I've ever had on stage."  She says it was just 3 years ago that her lead actress pulled out of a production at the last minute, and Ellie learned the part and filled in with very little notice, at age 86.

Larry Allison is also a big part of the Lamesa Community Players… and married to Gwen. He showed me around the place, including all the little rooms that reveal a lot of history back stage. There are posters of every production covering the walls. You can't help but notice a lot of the same names on those posters… local actors and actresses who might have done well on Broadway, but chose to love the bright lights of Lamesa instead.

Eleanor Wilson is one of those names.

Larry took me into the make-up room to show me the dozens of photographs and newspaper articles on display.

He pointed to one picture and said, "Here we have a picture of Miss Ellie when she won Best Actress."  That was for her role in "Bull in a China Shop" in 2014.

Ellie actually began her career as a nurse.

It wasn't until much later in life that she reinvented herself on the stage.

The reason? A few years after the death of her husband, Ellie decided to get back into life and try something new.

What a role model for millions who have experienced a similar tragedy.

34 years later, after playing dozens of characters and even directing a couple of plays herself, it's obvious that Ellie Wilson learned that life is what you make of it.

Who would have thought when Ellie was a school nurse, that Gwen Allison would someday say this about her, "Every director loves to have her. Ellie is a legend in Lamesa."

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