Art Carney's canceled JFK impression

A look back on past points of view regarding presidents.

Political attitudes continue to shift as we push further and further into the future. Debates surround what is and isn't acceptable. The pendulum keeps swinging as television develops and media changes and morphs. 

Things that were acceptable in the past have been deemed controversial by today's standards. But, similarly, things that are on television today would've ended in dispute. 

As perspectives keep evolving, it's fun to look back on the seemingly innocuous things that caused commotion in the past. Take, for instance, the ways we've progressed (or, potentially regressed) regarding the "respect" given to our political leaders. Depending on who you are and where you're from, there may have been a point in the past when the president was given a certain level of regard just for being the president.

Back in 1961, NBC agreed that President-elect John F. Kennedy deserved some esteem and reverence, at least on the programs that NBC broadcasted.

This was bad news for Art Carney, who was a genuinely skilled political impersonator. Fans might know that Carney got his start in show business by lampooning then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

However, by 1961, it appeared as though the tides had turned, and suddenly, Carney was barred from performing a sketch in which he impersonates JFK.

An NBC spokesperson was quoted by UPI News stating that the sketch was removed in the interest of "good taste."

"We don't mind a comedian doing a standup bit on presidents," the spokesperson said. "But the thing that goes beyond good taste is when you have a couple actors taking the part of the president and his lady and doing a sketch around it."

Yes, this is the same NBC that would later broadcast Saturday Night Live

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6 Comments

SparkleMotion 6 months ago
That's ridiculous. Art Carney was a nice man from anything I've ever read or heard about him and he wasn't doing any impression with an agenda behind it. Also from what I've read and heard about other things....this isn't a surprise that he wasn't allowed to do his impression of Kennedy. ... I'm attaching my favorite impression of a political person. Bob Dole wasn't President, but he did run. AND, he loved Norm's impression of himself.
Runeshaper 6 months ago
Different times and different people.
thewide7 6 months ago
Norton was the keg to the show. Alice had funniest lines. Gleason was smart enough to make them the stars of the show. 😂😃😀
MadMadMadWorld thewide7 6 months ago
Jackie could be both the straight man to (Audrey and Art), or deliver the funny lines himself.
He was one of the finest tv actors and comedians ever! I was privileged to attend one of his Miami Beach episode filming in 1966 when I lived there. It wasn't a strictly Honeymooners episode sketches, but a variety episode. But just to see him, Art, Sheila MacRae ("Alice"), and Jane Kean ("Trixie") was a thrill by itself!
cperrynaples 6 months ago
Only a few years later, comedian Vaughn Meader made a career out of a JFK impression! However, after the assassination, it wasn't funny anymore! NBC actually destroyed a episode of The Joey Bishop Show that Meader appeared on! His career ended as quickly as it started!
LoveMETV22 6 months ago
" This was bad news for Art Carney, who was a genuinely skilled political impersonator. Fans might know that Carney got his start in show business by lampooning then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt."
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Wonder if that was when Mr. Carney did an impression of FDR when promoting a refrigerator. :
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