b. 1890 – Ohio
O’Daniel was raised in Kansas and completed two years at the Salt City Business College in Hutchinson, Kansas. He eventually moved to Fort Worth and became sales manager of Burrus Mills, where he was responsible for radio advertising, wrote songs and discussed religious topics on the air. He cancelled the program when Burrus Mills sponsored what O’Daniel called hillbilly music, but listeners forced him to bring the band back on the air. When he was fired from Burrus Mills he formed Hillbilly Flour and established his own band, the Hillbilly Boys.
Campaigning with his band and the Bible, O’Daniel was elected governor in 1939, stressing the need for old-age pensions, industrialization, tax cuts, and abolishment of capital punishment. After winning re-election in 1940 he packed the University of Texas Board of Regents with people who wanted to limit academic freedom. In 1941, he ran for the U.S. Senate in a special election, defeating New Deal congressman Lyndon Johnson.