John Stevens, “Black Bart” on early Port Arthur TV, dies at 92

Published 12:15 am Thursday, December 12, 2019

John Burch Stevens Sr., known to many children as Black Bart, the nemesis of Cowboy John in the early days of television in Port Arthur, has died. He was 92.

From 1957-72, Stevens teamed up with John Garner on Port Arthur NBC affiliate KJAC (now KBTV Fox 4) for a Saturday morning variety show called Circle 4 Club.

“He was my godfather,” said Joey Garner, John’s son. “My dad always told me when [Stevens] put on that outfit, he became Black Bart. My dad was shy and he pretty much stayed the same character. John Stevens became Black Bart.

Johnny Stevens, right, portrayed Black Bart on Circle 4 Club on Port Arthur TV station KJAC from 1957-72. He is pictured with Cowboy John Garner in this undated photo. (Courtesy of Joey Garner)

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“My dad always said he did some crazy stuff. It was amazing the transformation from one personality to another.”

John Stevens grew up in Port Arthur and graduated from high school in 1945, according to a Facebook post shared by family members. He was still training in the U.S. Navy when World War II ended. His brothers fought in the war.

Stevens began a career in radio and befriended singers George Jones, J.P. “Big Bopper” Richardson and Johnny Preston. He then moved into television and became a weatherman as well as an actor.

John Stevens leaves behind five children including Jefferson County Criminal District Court Judge John B. Stevens Jr. He had nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

“He lived a good life,” Joey Garner said. “He was up and rolling along.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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