The 1968 Exhibit: Covering 1968

Andy Williams and Robert F. Kennedy, June 1968

The crooner Andy Williams, who died yesterday at age 84, was a close personal friend of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and had plans to go out with RFK after his victory speech in Los Angeles on June 5, 1968.  Moments after that speech ended, Kennedy was shot and mortally wounded.   

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Williams sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" and "Ave Maria" at Kennedy's funeral in New York on June 8, 1968, and the songs were recorded--as the whole service was, in fact-- and released as a 45-rpm record, with the sales proceeds going to build a Kennedy memorial.  


Here's a great story about Andy Williams and that incident, and also a bit of surprising news about how Williams' political views had changed since 1968.  

[Andy Williams' album "Honey," pictured above, was released in 1968, and featured his cover of "Honey," runner-up to "Hey, Jude" for best selling song of 1968.]  




Nixon and "Sock it to ME?"



We're just about at the 44th anniversary of one of the most famous five seconds in US television history-- presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon's appearance on Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, the highest-rated show of 1968, uttering (incredulously) the immortal line,"Sock it to ME??" 


"Law and Disorder: The Chicago Convention and its Aftermath"

Now that we're in the middle of the 2012 Democratic National Convention, it might be useful to revisit the most notorious political convention of the last hundred years, that is, the 1968 DNC that took place in Chicago.  In fact, the words "Chicago" and "convention," when used together as they are on the cover of this publication, still conjure up consistent images of mayhem-- a "police riot" that shocked the nation.

156 Law & Disorder: The Chicago Convention and its Aftermath is an extraordinary document-- a handsomely designed,  privately published and printed "souvenir" magazine, filled with photos, elegant graphics, and excerpts from pieces by well known journalists and writers.  It was edited and published by Donald Myrus and Burton Joseph, who don't otherwise appear to have ever published anything else. 

From the Introduction:

In Chicago, the basic rights of free assembly, speech and press were challenged in the streets and parks by policemen and military troops with clubs and tear gas, while in the Amphitheatre the credibility of the convention process was badly shaken by the oppressive security measures.  Law & Disorder tells the story of the Chicago Convention as it was seen by those who were there, by those who felt or saw the aspirations and fear and who are disturbed about what the Chicago experience means to the continuation of American democracy. 

The proceeds from the sale of the magazine went to the ACLU, although it did exercise editorial control over it. 

The articles include pieces called "Eyewitness," by such authors as playwright Arthur Miller, novelist William Styron, and Playboy owner Hugh Hefner.  It includes drawings by artist and cartoonists such as Leroy Neiman and Pat Oliphant.  The last section of the publication is entitled "The Politicsof Hope"-- a phrase that still sounds familiar in 2012-- and includes a piece by New York politician Paul O'Dwyer called "Chicago Will Be Ours." 

I do not look on Chicago with despair.  Looking at it with an eye on the past as well as an eye on the future, I see much to hope for in what all dissenters achieved there.



"PROMISES, PROMISES" debuts on Broadway in 1968

The lyricist Hal David, longtime collaborator with composer Burt Bacharach, died last week at the age of 91.  The David/Bacharach team's greatest success on Broadway came in 1968-- on December 1st, their musical comedy, Promises, Promises--opened in New York.  It was based on the classic 1960 Billy Wilder movie The Apartment. which starred Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine.   In the musical, their roles as Chuck and Fran were filled by Jerry Orbach and Jill O'Hara.   Orbach won a Tony for his performance, though the musical lost the big award to 1776 (also nominated that year were Zorba and Hair.)  You can watch a Promises Promises dance number from the 1969 Tony Awards show in the clip below--featuring Donna McKechnie. 

153 Like most Broadway musicals, even successful ones, Promises, Promises has a lot of musical numbers that you've never heard of, but it does have two that broke out as big hits-- the title song, and "I'll Never Fall in Love Again--for Dionne Warwick, who covered most of the David/Bacharach hits.  Both tunes became part of the soundtrack of 1968. 




Ok, so it really happened in 1969, but "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" premiered on national TV in 1968-- in February in fact, coming out of local "educational TV" in Pittsburgh.  

Check out his testimony before Congress in 1969 about the value of public television.

THEN-- head over to the 1968 Exhibit Timeline and watch a segment from the very first episode in 1968: