Written by
Bob Stumpel

September 29

Ray Charles In An American Pageant Of The Arts (1962)

'62 TV Pageant NM

“President and Mrs. Kennedy are shown as they film a
nationwide closed circuit television show, “An American
Pageant of the Arts,” to boost a National Culture
Center [at] the National Guard Armory.”

On 29 November 1962 Ray Charles contributed to An American Pageant Of The Arts, a closed-circuit TV show from Carnegie Hall, staged to raise funds for the National Cultural Center. It was “beamed into ballrooms, music halls and theaters coast to coast”. Tickets were sold at $2 to $100. The show featured “an eclectic mix of musical and comedy acts from the ‘serious’ conductor (and host) Leonard Bernstein, the poet Robert Frost, and ‘legitamate’ actors like Colleen Dewherst to the likes of popular entertainers like Danny Kaye, Gene Kelly, Tammy Grimes, Benny Goodman and Harry Belefonte”.
President John F. Kennedy had designated the week of November 26 to 2 December 1962 as National Cultural Center Week. The television gala was the highlight of the week. But the effort netted a measly $500,000. “By June 1963, three months before the deadline, only one-third of the money needed had been raised, and that compelled Kennedy […] to extend the deadline. Three months later, he was assassinated, and the name of the proposed center was then changed to create a living memorial to the slain president.” As a – belated – consequence, since 1978 the yearly Kennedy Center Honors are organized. Also cf. this article.


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