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Cornelia Ellis Wallace, previously Cornelia Ellis Snively (January 28, 1939 – January 8, 2009), was the First Lady of Alabamamarker from 1971-1978, the second wife of Democratic Governor George C. Wallace, Jr. (1919-1998). A dark-haired beauty, Mrs. Wallace attracted national attention on May 15, 1972, when, at the age of thirty-three, she threw herself over her husband when he was shot four times by Arthur Bremer of Wisconsinmarker during an assassination attempt at a shopping center in Laurelmarker, Marylandmarker. At the time, Wallace was seeking support in his bid for his party's presidential nomination but the delegates ultimately chose U.S. Senator George McGovern of South Dakotamarker, who was thereafter crushed by the reelection of U.S. President Richard M. Nixon.

Alabama state Democratic Party Chairman Joe Turnham recalled that Mrs. Wallace is "etched in Alabamians' memory because of the tragedy" in Maryland. William Stewart, a political scientist at the University of Alabamamarker at Tuscaloosamarker, said that he remains impressed by Mrs. Wallace's bravery during the shooting and her loyalty to her husband during his long recovery from the wounds that left his legs paralyzed and rendered him permanently in a wheelchair. Turnham also recalled that as first lady, Mrs. Wallace urged Alabamians to plant vegetable gardens to be more self-reliant. Turnham's father, former state Representative Pete Turnham, an Auburnmarker Democrat, and others joined her in planting a garden in the back yard of the Governor's Mansion in Montgomerymarker.

Cornelia Wallace was a niece of a former George Wallace intraparty rival, former Governor James E. Folsom (1908-1987), known as "Big Jim" Folsom, whom Wallace had defeated in the 1962 Democratic primary. Known simply as "C'nelia", she married Wallace on January 4, 1971, shortly before he was inaugurated for the second of his four nonconsecutive terms as governor, and two and a half years following the death of his first wife, Governor Lurleen B. Wallace (1926-1968).

Mrs. Wallace was born in Elbamarker in Coffee Countymarker in southeastern Alabama to Charles G. Ellis, a civil engineer who died in 1960, and the former Ruby Folsom, later Ruby Ellis Austin. At Methodist Huntingdon Collegemarker in Montgomery and Rollins Collegemarker in Winter Parkmarker, Floridamarker, Cornelia studied voice and piano. Thereafter, she sang and played guitar and toured Australia and Hawaiimarker with country singer Roy Acuff. She wrote and performed two songs for M-G-M: "It's No Summer Love" and "Baby with the Barefoot Feet".

The Wallaces divorced in January 1978, amid claims that she had bugged his telephone in the Governor's Mansion. She entered the Democratic primary for governor in 1978 but did little active campaigning and finished last with only 217 votes among the thirteen candidates. The nominee, Fob James, went on to defeat the Republican choice, Guy Hunt of Holly Pondmarker, a leading Alabama supporter of former Californiamarker Governor Ronald W. Reagan. Hunt was elected governor in a major upset in 1986, and James returned to his own previous Republican allegiance to win a second nonconsecutive term as governor in 1994.

Cornelia Wallace later moved to central Florida to be near her sons from her first marriage to John Snively, III, whose wealthy family owned the tourist attraction, Cypress Gardensmarker. In 1997, Turner Network Television made the television movie entitled George Wallace, with Gary Sinise in the title role, and Angelina Jolie as Cornelia Wallace. The role earned Jolie a Golden Globe award for best supporting actress in a television movie or miniseries, but Wallace criticized the script for portraying her as a frivolous person.

Wallace died of cancer in Sebringmarker, Florida. Survivors included a brother, Charles G. Ellis of Elba; and her sons, James A. Snively of Lake Placidmarker and Joshua A. Snively of Winter Havenmarker. There were also four stepchildren from Wallace's first marriage to Governor Lurleen B. Wallace, including George C. Wallace, III (born 1951), a former member of the Alabama Public Service Commission.


  1. Former Alabama first lady Cornelia Wallace dies KVOA
  2. Cornelia Wallace, 69, First Lady of Alabama, Dies The New York Times

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