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Gator Art & EntertainmentJohnny Mathis gazes down on the track from a high post in the stands at Cox Stadium.
A look at alumni on the performing and creative arts scene

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Over the summer a camera crew was spotted shooting footage of Johnny Mathis (attended '54–'57) in Cox Stadium. The campus scenes will be featured in "Johnny Mathis: Wonderful! Wonderful!," a documentary on Mathis' life and musical career scheduled to air on PBS in December.

Cox Stadium was Mathis' literal stomping ground while he was a student track star at SF State. In 1957, Mathis, then a record-breaking high jumper, was invited to participate in the U.S. Olympic trials. The invitation came the same week a Columbia Records exec heard Mathis sing at a San Francisco club. A telegram was quickly dispatched to Columbia's New York office: "Have found phenomenal 19-year-old boy who could go all the way! Send blank contracts." The rest is pop music history.

Mathis has since amassed more than 60 gold and platinum albums, as well as such prestigious honors as this year's annual ELLA Award. Previous recipients of the award, named for Ella Fitzgerald and honoring outstanding musician-humanitarians, include Julie Andrews and Sir Elton John.

For more on Mathis, check local listings for documentary air times.

 

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