Goodwin Knight

From Academic Kids

Goodwin Jess Knight (December 9, 1896 - May 22, 1970) was the 31st Governor of California from 1953 until 1959.

He was born in Utah, but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was a boy. His father, Jess Knight, was a mining engineer, but Goodwin followed in his mother's (Lille) father's (John B. Milner) footsteps. This grandfather was a judge in Provo, Utah.

He attended high school in Los Angeles, at Manual Arts High School. One of his classmates was Jimmy Doolittle. He went on to Stanford University and also Cornell University. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War I.

Knight was a judge of the Superior Court in Los Angeles beginning in 1935. He was reelected in 1936 and 1942 without significant opposition. His case load varied from the glamorous to the mundane. He oversaw weddings and divorces for Hollywood starlets. He began his political career in 1944, when he pursued the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate. He bowed out early, though, to back Fred Houser.

He was elected as the Lieutenant Governor under Earl Warren in 1943. He became Governor himself when Earl Warren resigned to become Chief Justice of the United States. He fought for control of the Republican party of California with US Senator William Knowland and vice-president Richard Nixon. Knight, who was reelected easily in 1954, at first seemed to make an alliance with Knowland, but this began to change in 1956 when Knowland supported Nixon for renomination to the vice-presidency. In 1957, Knowland announced that he would challenge Knight in the primary for governor in 1958. Knight, known as a moderate sympathetic to organized labor, faced a serious threat because the Republican Party was growing more conservative. He was induced by Knowland, Nixon, President Dwight Eisenhower and others to run for Knowland's senate seat instead of running for governor again. Both Knowland and Knight went down to defeat in 1958, with Knowland losing the gubernatorial race to Pat Brown and Knight losing the senate race by over 10% to Clair Engle. This left Nixon in control of the California party and in line for the presidential nomination, which Knowland and Knight had also desired. In 1964 Knight endorsed Nelson Rockefeller for the Republican nomination. Rockefeller was unsuccessful in obtaining it. Knight never ran for political office again.

His first wife, Arville, died of a heart attack on October 29, 1952. He and Arville had two daughters. He married Virginia Carlson on August 2, 1954 at the Episcopal Church of Our Savior in Los Angeles. Virginia Carlson's first husband, Lt. Lyle Carlson was killed in action in World War II.

Preceded by:
Earl Warren
Governors of California Succeeded by:
Pat Brown
Preceded by:
Frederick F. Houser
Lieutenant Governors of California Succeeded by:
Harold J. Powers

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