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Sinatra, Bernstein and others lead JFK's pre-inaugural gala

Posted by Doug Most  January 19, 2011 09:54 AM

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As part of the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum's ongoing celebration of the 50th anniversary of JFK's 1961 inauguration comes this remarkable video.

Imagine if Beyonce, Streisand, Jon Stewart, Quincy Jones, Renee Fleming, Oprah, Stephen Sondheim, James Levine, and some of the performance stars of today all gathered at the White House. This was sort of like that, 50 years ago.

It's restored footage from the pre-inaugural gala, which was produced by Frank Sinatra and Peter Lawford. There were performances by Harry Belafonte, Milton Berle, Nat King Cole, Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Ella Fitzgerald, Gene Kelly, Frederic March, Ethel Merman, Jimmy Durante and others. It was a significant event, as it was really the first that showed how big a role the arts would have in public life during Kennedy's administration.
 
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