| John Francis Minford "Jack" Wyatt
(Advertising executive, television host, and Episcopalian priest)
|Born|| August 19, 1917 |
|Died|| April 4, 2008|
Rockport, Aransas County,
|Spouse|| Florence Rebecca Wyatt|
John Francis Minford Wyatt, known as Jack Wyatt (August 19, 1917 – April 4, 2008), was an advertising executive and television host from New York City and Dallas, Texas, who, during his early fifties, was ordained as an Episcopalian priest. From 1958 to 1959, he was the interviewer on the ABC crime/drama reality television series, Confession, in which he quizzed convicted criminals on the air to determine the root causes of their lawlessness. He also hosted a local version of Confession on WFAA-TV, Channel 8, in Dallas prior to the network's decision to pick up the program in the summer of 1958.
Wyatt was born in Kansas City, Missouri, and reared in Forest Hills in the New York City borough of Queens, New York. He began his work in radio and television production and advertising in New York. Several of his clients from Dallas prompted him to relocate there in 1954. He formed the Jack Wyatt Company, which became Wyatt, Dunagan & Williams Inc. His firm subsequently merged with Lennen & Newell, Inc., in New York.
His subjects on Confession included prostitutes, murderers, counterfeiters, and alcoholics who had run afoul of the law. At the time an advertising executive in Dallas, Wyatt moderated the Confession discussion with a panel that included police officers, clergy, psychiatrists, sociologists, or civic leaders. Sometimes the criminals wore hoods or mask to remain anonymous. Sam Price of Dallas, co-producer of Confession, said that many of the guests were brought from the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville for the interviews in Dallas. Wyatt once said that law enforcement officers had told him that Confession had actually helped in the rehabilitation of some of the criminals.
According to his daughter, Susan Rebecca Wyatt (born 1956) of Knoxville, Tennessee, Wyatt began studying for the priesthood in 1967. She describes her father as "always a person who was very much involved with people and things in growth and change. He was a warm, outgoing person who touched many lives." Wyatt enrolled at St Augustine's College, Canterbury, in England and and completed his last year of study at King's College in London.
Sam Price recalls Wyatt as having the "urging to take the next step, whatever he was doing, whether it was broadcast, advertising – from film to videotape and things like that – this was the next step for him." Price voiced surprise at the commitment to the priesthood. Wyatt was ordained at St. Paul's Cathedral in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, where he served as an assistant priest. He later procured his own congregation in Durant in Bryan County in southeastern Oklahoma. He then became the canon to the Bishop of Oklahoma.
Retirement and death
In the early 1980s, Wyatt retired to Rockport, a resort community in Aransas County on the Texas Gulf Coast and often struck by hurricanes. He worked thereafter as a supply priest and interim rector in several area churches. He was also the spiritual director for a hospice in Rockport. Wyatt died of cancer at his home in Rockport at the age of ninety. In addition to his daughter, he was survived by his wife, Florence Rebecca Wyatt (October 18, 1923 – September 29, 2008) of Rockport, who died six months after her husband's passing. There was also another daughter, the Reverend Claudia Wyatt Smith (born 1949) of Blue Hill, Maine, and a grandchild. Mrs. Wyatt died some six months after her husband.
- Alex McNeil, Total Television (New York: Penguin Books, 1996), p. 178.
- (2009) Encyclopedia of Television Law Shows: Factual and Fictional Series about Judges, Lawyers and the Courtroom, 1948–2008. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, Inc.. Retrieved on December 5, 2010.
- The Rev. John "Jack" Francis Minford Wyatt: Adman Hosted Local TV's 'Confession' Prior to Priesthood, Denton (Texas) Record-Chronicle, accessed December 8, 2010.