Vaughn Meader on the Upper West Side
My guess is you'd have to have been born by 1960 or earlier to hear the name Vaughn Meader and begin to chuckle. An old-time Bloomingdaler, Manhattan Mark, turned me on to this comedian and JFK impersonator whose 1962 album "The First Family" captured everyone's attention and won the Grammy for best album of the year.
It is hilarious. Good, clean, spoofing fun is made of JFK, Jackie, Bobby, Teddy, the kids and members of the kitchen cabinet. Kids listened with their parents. Adults popped it on the turntable after dinner parties. It flew out of stores as the fastest selling album ever with 1.2 million records sold in the first fortnight.
It was such a sensation that Kennedy quipped at one function that Vaughn Meader wasn't able to make it so he had come instead.
If you listen to the full first album at the bottom of this post (email subscribers, click on the post's title to listen to it on the website), you'll see Meader's spot on mimicry of Kennedy's accent and cadence and even the JFK wit. It's so innocent and so clean by today's standards you'll be charmed. And it plays as a very interesting counterpoint to contemporary comedians' take on the current POTUS.
To get to the UWS connection, the second volume, which Meader released in 1963, includes an adorable on-site interview with 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders at the Alexander Robertson School at 95th Street and Central Park West. The first video below is teed up to take you right to the kids (you can rewind to listen to the whole record). Make sure to listen to the first album when you have time -- the second video below.
That part of his career did go away, but Meader lived on through the tumult of the Sixties and had a few more turns to his career. He died in October 2004.
May 29th is the 101st anniversary of JFK's birth, and this is my nod to the legend that lives on. And to a comedian whose timing was both excellent and terribly bad.