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Kennedy Assassinated in Dallas, Showbiz Mourns: ‘A Leader Is Gone’

STUDIOS, CLUBS, FILM THEATRES CLOSED TODAY

The assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy Friday had far-reaching, almost unparalleled impact on the entertainment industry. Certainly not since the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt in April, 1946, has showbiz generally been so “moved” — and moved to cut back operations today, the national day of mourning, on all levels and sundry facets. If the decisions seemed to come slowly, and amid confusion, it was because the entertainment industry, along with the whole world, simply could not believe the dire news. Then, as the hours passed and all attention was galvanized on the shocking events and aftermaths, as the sense of loss deepened and pervaded all, decisions came fast. All film and tv studios here are closed today. Most legit houses and niteries will be shrouded tonight and film theatres will not open until 6 p.m. Upon the death of FDR studios and many theatres and all niteries here closed for a day.

John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie Kennedy travelling in the presidential motorcade at Dallas, before his assassination. photo credit: Keystone/Getty Images

MPAA Statement

The Motion Picture Association of America upon announcing studios and film company offices will be closed, issued this statement:

“This is a terrible hour. The tragedy of Dallas must tear the hearts of all Americans with anguish. As the nation grieves, those in motion pictures mourn the loss of a true advocate. No President displayed the appreciation and affection for the motion picture as did John F. Kennedy.

“The country — yes, the world — is less than it was. A leader is gone.”

The reaction to the tragedy began Friday when many nitespots did not light up and it should be noted that numerous entertainment media sales items which had been trading on the Kennedy family since his inauguration were immediately pulled from local (and very likely national) store shelves.

Pickwick Bookstore in Hollywood and Music City store in Hollywood on Friday revealed all merchandise satirizing the late Chief Executive has been removed from sale. With reference to music, this includes several dozen varied record albums containing humorous anecdotes about the President or his family, particularly the top-selling Vaughn Meader “First Family” albums and numerous others by a variety of essentially comedy performers.

Similarly, the many paperback books, booklets and picture books that have sprung up in bookstores throughout the nation likely will be pulled from most stores, as they immediately were from the Pickwick racks.

Spokesmen for both stores noted all materials had been heavily stocked as Christmas items and, in the past, had been heavy sellers throughout the year.

Among niteries closing Friday night were Shelly Davis’ Crescendo and Interlude, with operator also pledging to close both clubs tonight and estimating a $5,000 loss on both nights. Davis had Meader booked next month at the Crescendo and, despite comedian’s recent announcements of a switch from his Kennedy satire act, Davis is now negotiating a new, later date.

Slate Bros, postponed Kay Stevens’ Friday night opening until Wednesday. Cocoanut Grove, Roaring 20’s, Troubadour, Ash Grove and other smaller niteries closed for the night. Dino’s Lodge, Jerry Lewis’ Restaurant and the Beverly Hilton and Statler Hilton Hotels, while continuing to serve dinners, cancelled entertainment, including all music, for Friday night.

Only club, of major spots polled, to remain open as usual was the Basin Street West, currently spotlighting the Dinah Washington revue. In some instances, nitery ops indicated performers went off pay for the closed nights in respect to the late President. Others, however, were paid as usual.

Showbiz In Washington Shrouded Today – All Performances Being Suspended

Washington, Nov. 24. — All showbiz here will be suspended tomorrow, day of national mourning, for the late President Kennedy’s funeral.

National Repertory Theatre, scheduled to open at the National Theatre tomorrow night, with “The Crucible” putting off the first curtain until Tuesday.

The late President had an orchestra seat reserved at the National since his days as a Congressman and used it frequently during his 17 years here. His last visit to the theatre was for the opening last winter of “School For Scandal.”

The Arena Stage, a theatre-in-the-round, ended its performance of “The Devils” today and its next play, “Battle Dream,” isn’t scheduled to open until Wednesday. For several nitery spots, the Monday closing will be fortuitous as that’s the usual off day.

The posh Blue Room of the Shoreham Hotel, where Pat Suzuki is current, observes Monday as its usual off-day. Two niteries in the chi-chi Georgetown section, where the Kennedys lived before moving to the White House, cancelled Monday performances.

While the local show business community prepared to observe the funeral of its highest ranking enthusiast, its reaction to the President’s assassination was one of complete shock. Like the rest of the local citizenry, showfolk have lost their unofficial Mayor, who in three short years had seemed to give the town some flair.

The National Symphony, its Musicians’ strike settled only recently with White House help, cancelled all weekend concerts.

The National and Arena closed Friday but reopened Saturday. Both theatres offered Friday and Monday ticket-holders either refunds or options on other performances. Also cancelled was a concert by the New York Pro Musica Renaissance Band at the Library of Congress.

On the film front, the Warner and Uptown houses cancelled Fridav night showings of “Cleopatra and “How The West Was Won. The Stanley Warner management gave reserved seat holders refunds.

JOHN F. KENNEDY

JOHN Fitzgerald Kennedy, 36th President of the United States and especial friend of the communicating arts, was savagely cut down in Dallas on Friday by a sharp-shooting assassin in a display of insane violence that has stirred avulsion and grieved mankind in this nation and throughout the world. Yesterday the accused assassin died, himself the victim of a vengeance contrary to the laws of the nation and the law of God that lighted the way for John F. Kennedy. His murderer is unmoumed. But this morning all men of goodwill, each in his own way, join in the Pontifical High Mass of Requiem offered in the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, DC., to commend the soul of the late President, according to the Roman Catholic religion that he practiced, to the mercy of the Almighty God for life everlasting in the glory of Heaven.

Since that terrible Friday afternoon of Nov. 22 millions of words have been written and spoken from every comer of the world. One cannot help but wonder that if the same steadfast admiration had been expressed during the almost three years he had served as President that this overwhelming tragedy might have been averted and that today, instead of a nation and a world in mourning, mankind might be a step closer to attaining true dignity of intellect and spiritual communion.

The community of Hollywood and show business in general has lost a good friend, to fall back upon a trite, but nevertheless apt expression. John F. Kennedy, more than any other President, had a feeling for, and close ties with, people in the performing arts. While Franklin Delano Roosevelt had a lively interest in seeing motion pictures and his wife was a mainspring of the Federal Theatre Project, President and Mrs. Kennedy — possibly because of youth and environment as much as anything else (the President’s father was long active in motion pictures) seemed to have closer rapport with show folk.

The interest of the late President and Mrs. Kennedy in establishment of a national cultural center in Washington needs no explanation. Moreover, from the day of his inauguration celebration, in which show business played a most prominent part, President Kennedy did much by identification of his person to signify a high regard for people in the entertainment world. Indeed, he had scheduled for the motion picture business an unusual Presidential recognition. There was to have been a White House luncheon meeting on Dec. 10 for some 46 representatives of the industry — a event which would have accorded Hollywood an importance on a par with that reserved heretofore (outside of wartime emergency when entertainment automatically is recognized as a potent morale force) mostly for big industry and financing.

Because of this as well as personal relationships that enabled the late President to enjoy moments of informal relaxation in Southern California, the community of Hollywood has suffered — despite often pronounced political differences — an acutely personal loss in the martyrdom of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Today the show doesn’t go on in Hollywood. Studios are closed in tribute to the memory of a noble first citizen and friend.

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