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Honoring the Memory of Memorable Artists...

...OR NOT!

It was only 46 years ago, a month in which Lyndon Baines Johnson declared a losing "War on Poverty", the U.S. Government finally realized that smoking was a health hazard and The Beatles, compellingly wanting to hold your hand, made their first appearance on a Billboard chart. Ethel Merman gave theater goers a gift by turning down the title role in Hello Dolly!, which then opened on Broadway with Carol Channing. Louis had recorded his "Hello" to Ms. Levin a month earlier. Separately, Martin Luther King and Thomas Mann made the cover of Time magazine, the Panama Canal Zone saw a 3-day student riot plant the seed for independence, and quite a few people walked around trying to get Al Hirt's Java out of their head. Plans for building a World Trade Center at the tip of New York were revealed and preparations for the 1964 World's Fair were bringing back to life an area of the city that had been the site of the 1939 World's Fair. Alberta Hunter, who had made her television debut at that fair's RCA Pavilion 25 years earlier, was now getting ready to join old friends for a special fund-raising event at the Celebrity Club in Harlem. The object of this posthumous tribute was Mamie Smith, whose 1921 recording of Crazy Blues sparked the blues craze that carried the likes of Bessie Smith and Ida Cox to fame. Besides her many recordings, Mamie Smith's career encompassed stage and film performances, but the spotlight was dimming in 1946, when she passed away. 

Click on image to enlarge it.

If I remember correctly, the list of celebrities scheduled to attend was a bit on the fanciful side, but that's par for the course. The proceeds were to be used to purchase a stone for Mamie Smith's grave, which had been unmarked for 18 years...

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