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What does it take to get Henry Fonda to do a singing commercial?
An idea. Like "Love - it comes in all colors" which is
the catch phrase of the Urban Coalition's latest campaign to promote racial
harmony. Fonda and many other celebrities sang along to prove that
love comes in their color - Ossie Davis's, Arthur Goldberg's - everybody's.
The commercial, which will be seen nationally this month, is the brain
child of New York advertising executive Arthur X. Tuohy. Tuohy hit upon
the idea of a "perform-in" featuring leader from sports, show business,
government and business, so he sent out invitations and started hoping.
The response, he said, was "incredible" - more than 100 celebrities showed
up, including many cast members of the rock-musical Hair. What was
performed at the perform-in? "WE Shall Overcome", a standard of the civil
rights movement, was suggested, but Tuohy wanted the commercial to have
the air of a celebration as well as harmony, so Hair's joyous "Let The
Sun Shine In" got the nod - and an enthusiastic performance. What
with so many people coming from so many places, Tuohy anticipated chaos.
"Surprisingly," he said later, "the filming was the easiest part." Staged
by director Joshua Logan and musical director Mitch Miller, the whole thing
took only about three hours. Above is the entire cast (to see picture
click here) in the studio. Aside
from the celebrities previously identified (NOTE: a previous photo's caption
identifies Mildred Dunnock, David Susskind, Bayard Rustin, Jim Bachus,
Henry Fonda, Carlos Conde, Dina Merrill, John D. Rockefeller III, Debbie
Offner of Hair, Cassandra Morgan of Hair, Arthur Goldberg, Mayor Richard
Hatcher of Gary, Indiana, Ossie Davis, Gwen Verdon, John W. Gardner, Pat
Lambert of Hair, Jack Dempsey, Charles Lynch of Hair, Whitney Young, Ray
Martel, Johnny Carson, Lillian Wong of Hair, Singer Williams of Hair, Dan
Blocker.), the group also includes Chet Huntley, Myrna Loy, Cleveland Amory,
Greg Morris, and others (you'll find them if you look hard enough).
What does such a tour de force cost? In this case, nothing. Time
and skills (to the tune of $5 million) were donated - by the celebrities;
the unions; the production house; Tuohy; and the Ketchum, MacLeod &
Grove agency. Add to that figure the value of the air time stations will
donate and you have a sizable and laudable investment in racial understanding.
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