An Evening of Memories
After dinner the Fords, Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, and their guests moved inside to the East Room for the entertainment portion of the evening. British-born comedian Bob Hope, who had been specially requested by Her Majesty, led a program that also included the musical duo Captain and Tennille.
Hope had previously entertained the British Royal Family at four command performances. On this occasion he sang his trademark song “Thanks For the Memory” with special lyrics recognizing the British guests of honor.
Although the “Captain” Daryl Dragon had been feeling under the weather earlier in the day the show still went on for him and Toni Tennille. Their set included their hits "Love Will Keep Us Together" and “Muskrat Love,” which some commentators felt was not an appropriate song choice to play for Her Majesty.
Happy 115th Birthday, Duke Ellington!
Jazz pioneer Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington, 4/29/1899 - 5/24/1974.
"Marian Anderson, world’s greatest contralto, entertains a group of overseas veterans and WACs on [the] stage of the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium…", 04/11/1945
From the series: Photographs of Notable Personalities, 1942 - 1945. Records of the Office of War Information
Earlier this week was the 75th Anniversary of Marian Anderson’s famous outdoor concert at the Lincoln Memorial, on April 9, 1939. (Hear her renowned contralto voice in the audio post!)
Today marks the 75th anniversary of Marian Anderson’s concert on Easter Sunday at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. More than 75,000 people attended.
Originally, Anderson was scheduled to sing at Howard University, but when officials thought the crowds would be too large, they asked the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) if Anderson could sing in their auditorium at Constitution Hall.
However, in 1939, Washington, DC, was still a racially segregated city, and Constitution Hall had a “white-only” policy for its performers. The DAR declined.
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned her membership from the organization in protest, surprising the nation (though not the black community) with her support.
Anderson’s manager Sol Hurok proposed that Anderson give an open-air concert at the Lincoln Memorial. Harold Ickes, the Secretary of the Interior and past president of the Chicago NAACP, approved the idea immediately.
This iconic image shows Anderson singing to the 75,000 people gathered in Potomac Park on April 9, 1939. Image: National Archives Identifier 595378.
The Beatles Come to America
50 years ago today the Fab Four emerge from a plane at New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, before a throng of hysterical fans, on February 7, 1964.
This Week in Universal News: The Beatles Come to America
On this day, fifty years ago, the Beatles landed at New York City’s recently renamed John F. Kennedy airport. Here’s the report from Universal, complete with John, Paul, George, and Ringo’s trademark charm, screaming teenagers, and a condescending narrator that clearly does not take these Liverpudlians (or their fans) seriously.
From the release sheet:
QUICK, FRED, THE FLIT: There are rumors around that this is Britain’s revenge for the Boston Tea Party. You guessed it … the Beatles have arrived in the United States for their first appearance before an idolizing teen-age crowd, with the St. Vitus bounce. They take an airing in Central Park. No. There is no truth to the buzz that the Zoo’s laughing hyena was driven underground.From:Universal Newsreel Volume 37, Issue 12, 02/10/1964
(Don’t turn that dial! We’ll have more clips from the Beatles’ historic visit over the day!)
This morning, the world learned of the passing of legendary folk singer Pete Seeger. Take a look at this letter from Seeger to President Kennedy in March of 1961. Seeger was facing trial for contempt of Congress after refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. As a fellow Harvard classmate, Seeger was appealing to the President for help.
(From the White House Central Name File, Box 2513, JFK Library)
Strong Voices, Strong Women
Entertainers Carol Burnett and Helen Reddy serenaded guests with a medley of songs of the Sixties at a state dinner honoring Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin of Israel on January 27, 1976.
Then starring in the ninth season of her Emmy-winning variety program “The Carol Burnett Show,” Burnett was also known for her roles in musicals. Reddy, one of country’s leading recording artists, had achieved success on the popular music charts after moving to the United States from Australia in 1966.
They followed the medley with a rendition of Reddy’s hit song “I am Woman” dedicated to Mrs. Ford and Mrs. Rabin.
Louis Armstrong Registers for the Draft
Future jazz great Louis Armstrong of New Orleans was among nearly 24 million men aged 18–45 who registered for the draft during 1917–18, a requirement of the new Selective Service System. Notice that his first name is recorded incorrectly as Lewis. And while his date of birth was recorded as July 4, 1900, Armstrong was actually born on August 4, 1901.
World War I Draft Registration Card for Louis Armstrong, 09/12/1918; from the series: Draft Registration Cards 1917-1918
For International Jazz Day and in observance of jazz pioneer Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington’s birthday (4/29/1899 - 5/24/1974):
Happy Birthday Willie Nelson!
“When I was in trouble in the White House or when I wanted to have some deep thoughts, I had a very high quality hi-fi player, and the number one thing I played was Willie Nelson songs. All the good things I did as a president, all the mistakes I made — you can blame half of that on Willie.”
-Jimmy Carter in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine
Photos: Jimmy Carter with Willie Nelson and his guests outside of the Old Executive Building. 4/25/78; President Carter on stage at a performance by country western singer, Willie Nelson at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. 9/13/80.
The two remain friends today.
-from the Carter Library
Country Music Legend George Jones,
September 12, 1931 - April 26, 2013
Country music recording artist George Jones (seated with glasses), signs autographs inside the Main Exchange at Barksdale AFB, Louisiana (LA), 11/16/2001
SSGT Denise A. Rayder, USAF, photographer.
Q:Anything on Elvis
Looking for a little less conservation, a little more Elvis?
You can find all our past posts on “the King” with the #elvis-presley tag.
But we’re also partial to this animated gif from our colleagues at OurPresidents:
Harvey Lavan “Van” Cliburn, Jr.: American Classical Pianist and Cultural Hero of the Cold War, July 12, 1934 - February 27, 2013
"TEXAS PIANIST WINS TOP SOVIET MUSIC PRIZE In Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre, Texas’ Van Cliburn wins the Tchaikovsky Competition, one of the toughest and most prestigious in the world of music with a bravura performance that makes him the toast of Moscow. A rare feat by an American-born, American-trained musician."
Dave Brubeck and the Moscow Summit
We were sad to learn of the passing of Dave Brubeck, who died yesterday. He would have celebrated his 92nd birthday today.
In honor of the jazz maverick, and his efforts as an ambassador of music for the U.S. State Department, here’s a photo of Brubeck performing for Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev during the Moscow Summit of 1988.
“During ‘Take Five,’ observers noticed that Gorbachev was tapping his fingers along with the music.
“’I can’t understand Russian,’” Mr. Brubeck said at the time, “’but I can understand body language.’”
The Moscow Summit marked a thaw in the Cold War, and the day after Brubeck’s performance, President Reagan and Secretary Gorbachev would sign the INF treaty ratification at the Grand Kremlin.
Photo: Dave Brubeck performing for President Reagan, Nancy Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev and Raisa Gorbachev at Spaso House, Moscow. 5/31/88.