In a night when the world’s glamorous movie and television stars give accolades to other glamorous movie and television stars, Carrie Underwood’s musical tribute to the era of JFK, at this year’s Emmy Awards, couldn’t be more appropriate. In a larger tribute to the important moments in television during the 1960’s, JFK’s assassination is the most outstanding example of the role television played in the coverage of that year’s biggest news story. But, even before his assassination, Kennedy knew how to use the medium of television to hype his political career. With his youthful appearance and unaffected charm, Kennedy became television’s darling, making the appearance of JFK, in memoriam, a match made in television heaven.
As the celebrities arrive at Nokia Theater in Los Angeles to walk the red carpet, they probably won’t be thinking about John and Jackie Kennedy, Once considered the poster couple for a new era of modern elegance that invaded the political and social psyche of a generation in the early 60’s, the Kennedys made the silver-spoon life of the young elite something to which a nation of suburbanites aspired. Together, they rekindled the flame of fashion and entertainment for a new generation. They would have been the perfect fit for the Emmy Awards, where television rules and JFK was once its brightest star.
In the era of a “cold” war and the threat of nuclear bombs, Americans needed something to dwell on beyond doom and gloom. Enter the Kennedys. The young senator form Massachusetts stole hearts of both women and men, while his beautiful young wife became every housewife’s role model. Watching the new First Lady redecorate “America’s House” and turn fashion trends on their heads, young American women began coming into their own. Even today, a vintage evening gown of the JFK era worn at the Emmy Awards, has made many a young starlet “in,” since heaven knows the television fashion police will match the ones who made it onto the best dressed list with those who didn’t. But, the First Lady wasn’t the only fashion trend setter.
“JFK had the perfect sense of classic cool…” said Ken Downing, senior vice president and fashion director for Neiman Marcus. With his hip Ray-Ban, Way Farer style sunglasses and suit coats with just two buttons instead of the traditional three, JFK seamlessly began putting his stamp on men’s fashion. It was Kennedy who first introduced to menswear designers suits with higher armholes and nipped-in waists and slimmer cut trousers. He preferred Brooks Brothers suits without the shoulder pads. His look was tailored, streamlined, and charismatic, just like the candidate, then president, himself.
The tribute to JFK at the Emmy’s is to honor the 50th Anniversary of the President’s assassination. Actor Don Cheadle will include JFK in a larger tribute to television milestones, including the appearance of The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show. Carrie Underwood will then perform a medley of music from that era. In a recent radio interview, Underwood described her impending performance as, “a very important tribute to a very important time.”
The 1960’s was an era of paradoxes. There were fallout shelters and air-raid practice in elementary schools, there was Marilyn Monroe and the Rat Pack; in the beginning were the Kennedys. Television was still in its youth and in 1963, the Emmys were just eight-years old. The Emmy Awards have grown into a celebrity extravaganza, which makes any involvement with JFK a match that could only be made in television heaven.
By: Lisa Nance