Knight began his career with Neiman Marcus. After two weeks in the executive training program, he became an assistant to Edward Marcus. He became a maternity clothes buyer for Neiman’s and in 1959 appeared on the game show What’s My Line and stumped the panel with that profession. He spent two years on the West Coast working for I. Magnin before returning to Dallas. He retired as president of woman’s retailer Lester Melnick.
In 1965, he met his partner Chet Flake. They met through a friend and played bridge on their first date. They traveled often and despite his illness they were recently able to take a cruise.
Knight was a volunteer at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center where he worked at the front desk for more than 17 years and helped stage Toast to Life. The Turtle Creek Chorale awarded him a lifetime membership after he founded the A-Z Auction. He was a former board member of Bryan’s House and he and Flake walked in LifeWalk for 20 years along with a team that they helped form from their church, St. Thomas the Apostle.
He is survived by Flake and a cousin, Judy Bolen, and Flake’s nieces, nephews, great nieces and great nephews who all knew him as Uncle Bud. The funeral will be held on Saturday, Nov. 20 at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 6525 Inwood Road at 11 a.m.
Wall was born Billy Ray Wilson in Jacksonville, Fla., on Nov. 21, 1934, and was raised in Freeport, Texas. He spent one year at the University of Texas before moving to New York City for a time. Wall created Bottoms Up with friends in 1958.
Bottoms Up was first staged in Dallas, playing in nightclubs affiliated with Jack Ruby before moving to the Adolphus Hotel where it ran for two years.
The revue then moved to The Castaway in Las Vegas where it played late nights before becoming an afternoon show at the Thunderbird.
The show would run for several years in Las Vegas, then go on tour before returning to a new venue in Las Vegas. Wall’s longtime sidekick, David Harris, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the show originally focused on more sophisticated political humor until the Watergate scandal changed the public mood. Bottoms Up then switched to a more burlesque style, with Vaudeville-era jokes and skits framed by new generations of dancers and pop music.
The revue finally closed in 2007.
Wall also gained some fame in the early 1960s as a roommate of Jack Ruby, the man who shot Lee Harvey Oswald after Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Wall’s connection with Ruby led to Wall being called to testify before the presidential commission investigating the assassination in 1964.
Wall had no survivors. The Review-Journal said he would be cremated, and that friends are organizing a memorial service for a later date.
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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 19, 2010.
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