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Anita Bryant: Pageants and Paper Roses

I hesitated to use this, ANITA BRYANT singing her hit PAPER ROSES, because of her history. Ms Bryant was Miss Oklahoma and a runner-up for Miss America back in the 1950s when those beauty pageants were important. She had a pretty voice and was able to parlay that into a recording contract and four chart records including "Paper Roses" which rose to #5 on the Pop Chart in 1959 during the Rock and Roll explosion. (Top 40 Program Director's tended to add some ballads to their playlists in order to try to keep the fading adult audience.)

 

Ms Bryant's career continued well into the 1970s with club dates and a lot of TV appearances, and then--disaster. We used to advise the artists not to get involved in politics because it could hurt their careers, but Anita destroyed hers. She was a very strong anti-gay voice at the time, and when Dade County, Florida, passed an Gay anti-discrimination law in 1977, she formed a "Save Our Children" campaign to repeal it for religious reasons.

 

She was successful in getting the law repealed, but there were serious ramifications on her life and career. The rising LGBT Movement was furious and started an orange juice boycott. you see, Anita was the highly-paid spokesperson for the Florida Orange Growers Association.

 

It became a huge brouhaha, and gay bars around the nation took Screwdrivers and Mimosas--alcoholic drinks made with orange juice--off their menus. There were demonstrations and a world of bad publicity and the Growers Association dumped her like spoiled fruit.

 

Her bookings were cancelled and any TV appearances became defenses of her prejudices. It seems strange now in an era when the Supreme Court has approved Gay Marriage, but at the time many Americans shared her views and the controversy would continue for a long time. But before the incident she had a hit record and performed on Dick Clark's Saturday night show. Like most of the Dick Clark film clips, we get a little of Dick's rap in the introduction, but I find them fun nostalgia.  @therealdonrocks

 

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