As the TV cameras close upped teary-eyed Demo Denver conventioneers when Senator Edward Kennedy took the stage, I remembered another night and another Kennedy. It was July 15, 1960, at the L.A. Sports Arena and John F. Kennedy was making his acceptance speech as the Demos’ Presidential candidate. In my column that day I wrote, “We were on the platform many of the nominating hours–also on this platform behind the speakers, were Peter Lawford, Tony Curtis and Frank Sinatra who had been on their feet, quietly watching the proceedings on this excellent vantage point since 3 p.m. The Hollywood group was in such force at this political decision, a Democratic victory should make for an administration more sympathetic to the problems of showbiz–domestic as well as foreign.” And on that night in the Coliseum, Steve Allen emceed a “48 Plus 2” show composed of Frank Sinatra, Mort Sahl, Edward G. Robinson, Phyllis Kirk, Vincent Price, Mercedes McCambridge, Jan Sterling, Barry Sullivan, Shirley Maclaine, Ralph Bellamy and Lee Marvin. It was presented by the Democratic Party’s Committee for the Arts.
John F. Kennedy’s supportive relationships with showbiz and the arts was/is unparalleled. The Kennedy Center and its programs continue to be a tribute to him. The annual Kennedy Center Honors’ opening night features opening remarks by Edward Kennedy. He was always forceful in his reminder of what the arts have meant and what they must continue to mean–globally. The Kennedy fire was again blazing Monday night. And the tears in the audience reflected the hope that “Uncle Teddy” would be around for another celebration.