Burton Gilliam. Photo courtesy of Woodrow Wilson via Facebook.

When Burton Gilliam was going to Woodrow, Dallas ISD didn’t have the yellow school buses it now has. Gilliam and the rest of the students were taken to school on city buses.

On a Memories of Dallas podcast published Aug. 22, Gilliam talked all about growing up in our neighborhood. He even acknowledged he didn’t actually graduate from Woodrow.

Though Gilliam went on to have a successful career in acting, his strength in high school was the ROTC program.

“That was the only thing that I was good at,” Gilliam told the podcast host. “That’s a fact.”

He acknowledged he should’ve played basketball and baseball because he was good enough to make the team, but his grades were unsatisfactory.

Gilliam, who turned 83 this year, has aphasia, which affects his ability to process language. It inhibited his learning, but none of his teachers or counselors gave him the special assistance he needed. By the time he got to high school, a counselor even said he was lazy and didn’t want to learn.

The episode is the first of two interviews with Gilliam, who acted in “Blazing Saddles” and “Back to the Future Part III.” Listen to the full podcast here.


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