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.