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Vaughn Meader's First Family Albums

Kathy Beckett

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Both albums are available on you tube. (I thought this was a real find, having not heard 2.)

Volume 1

( 1 of 5 parts)

Volume 2

(1 of 5 parts)

From the Wiki article on Meader:

On October 22, 1962, Meader joined writers Bob Booker and Earle Doud and a small cast of entertainers and recorded The First Family, which would become the fastest-selling record in the history of the United States. By that Christmas, one million copies of the album had been sold; by the following year, it had sold an astonishing 7.5 million copies—unprecedented for any album, let alone a comedy album.

Still in his 20s, Meader was suddenly famous, rich, and in constant demand. He was profiled in Time and Life magazines, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show, and played to packed houses in Las Vegas.

At the time, many Americans could recite favorite lines from the record (including "the rubber schwan [swan] is mine," and "move ahead ... with great vigah [vigor]," the latter lampooning the President's own words). The album poked fun at Kennedy's PT-109 history; the rocking chairs he used for his back pain; the Kennedy clan's well-known athleticism, football games and family togetherness; children in the White House; and Jackie Kennedy's soft-spoken nature and her redecoration of the White House; among many other bits of knowledge that the public voraciously consumed.

The parody was fairly good-natured. Kennedy himself was said to have given copies of the album as Christmas gifts, and once greeted a Democratic National Committee group by saying, "Vaughn Meader was busy tonight, so I came myself."[1] At one press conference, Kennedy was asked if the album had produced "annoyment [sic] or enjoyment." He jokingly responded, "I listened to Mr. Meader's record and, frankly, I thought it sounded more like Teddy than it did me. So, now he's annoyed."[2] Other sources, such as Thomas C. Reeves' A Question of Character: A Life of John F. Kennedy, state that Kennedy was upset with the parodies, and that Jacqueline Kennedy was furious, even demanding that the President keep Meader off radio and television.

Meader later revealed, "A lot of people don't know this, but we recorded The First Family on the night of October 22, 1962, the same night as John F. Kennedy's Cuban Missile Crisis Speech. The audience was in the studio and had no idea of the drama that was taking place. But the cast had heard the speech and our throats almost dropped to our toes, because if the audience had heard the Cuban Missile Speech, we would not have received the reaction we did."

The First Family album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1963. That March, Meader recorded a follow-up album, The First Family Volume Two, a combination of spoken comedy and songs performed by actors and comedians portraying members of the President's family and White House staff. The sequel was slated for release before Christmas, 1963.

[edit] Assassination aftermath

After John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963, sales of The First Family albums plummeted, and stores removed the records from their shelves as the nation went into mourning. A JFK-related Christmas single by Meader was released by Verve Records shortly before the assassination; it was quickly withdrawn. Meader and others commented through the years that the assassin's bullet killed not only Kennedy, but also Meader (or, Meader's career). His act was no longer in demand and even appearances that were already booked—including those for the Grammy Awards show, the Joey Bishop show, and To Tell the Truth—were canceled.

Other parts available here:


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I believe it was on the Meader album that Jackie was conducting a White House tour, and someone asked her to point out the paintings. She said, "Of course. There's this one here, and there's that one over there . . . " It's easy to see why the real Jackie might have been upset.

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