JFK: The Lost Inaugral Gala | WVIA

JFK: The Lost Inaugral Gala

Posted by WVIA Admin on

Airs Thursday, June 8 at 8p, Friday, June 9 at 12:30a & 2p, Tuesday, June 13 at 12a, Saturday, June 24 at 2:30a on WVIA-TV

In celebration of John F. Kennedy's 100th birthday on May 29th, this program opens a window to the glamour and excitement that descended on the nation's capital for his 1961 inauguration, with a never before seen musical event - the Pre-Inaugural Gala, produced by and starring Frank Sinatra. It was a star-studded musical celebration, scheduled to be broadcast on television the following week. 

But on the day of the gala, January 19, 1961, Washington DC was hit with a colossal blizzard, and most of the performers were stuck in the Armory, rehearsing all day, unable to rest or change clothes for the evening. The storm took out most of the power in Washington but a few generators powered the minimal lights and cameras. In the end, it was decided not to broadcast the program. 

The black-and-white gala performances will be enhanced and interconnected by brilliant color and black-and-white footage from the Kennedy years, with insightful commentary from a distinguished host and interviewees. The artful mix of Kennedy home movies and photos, television news coverage, White House archives and footage from this previously unseen gala helps define the fabled Kennedy years and their legacy in the arts. 

The program includes performances by Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, Harry Belafonte, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Gene Kelly, Helen Traubel and Jimmy Durante. A specially written political parody of Kennedy's campaign features these luminaries as well as others, including Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh, Milton Berle, Alan King, and more.

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