Uploaded on Nov 5, 2011
Below excerpt from: Jack Doyle, "When Harry Met Petula: April 1968,"PopHistoryDig.com, February 7, 2009.
During a taping of the show in March 1968, while singing a duet with Belafonte titled "On the Path of Glory", an anti-war song that she had composed, Petula Clark innocently and naturally touched Belafonte's arm toward the end of the song. Doyle Lott, a vice president from Chrysler, the show's sponsor, was present at the taping. Lott objected to the "interracial touching" and feared the brief moment would offend Southern viewers -- this at a time when racial conflict was a major issue in the U.S. Lott insisted they substitute a different take -- one with Clark and Belafonte standing well away from each other. But Clark and her husband, Claude Wolff, the executive producer of the show, refused. They destroyed all the other takes of the song, and delivered the finished program to NBC with the touching segment as part of the show. Clark, who had ownership of the special, told NBC that the performance would be shown intact or she would not allow the special to be aired at all. Meanwhile, at Chrysler, by March 10, 1968, Doyle Lott was relieved of his responsibilities.
The Clark-Belafonte-Chrysler incident soon made the news, as American newspapers and magazines reported on the controversy. The press stories, however, only heightened viewer interest in the show. Advertising for the Petula Clark Show ran all across the country, with some local TV guides featuring Clark and Belafonte on the cover. The show was broadcast on April 8th, 1968 with Clark doing several numbers on her own as well as Belafonte doing several on his own before they sang together. It marked the first time a man and woman of different races exchanged physical contact on American television. When the show finally aired, it received high ratings and critical acclaim.
Blessed are the meek, they say
They shall win where others lose
But when man is forced to stay,
He is never asked to choose
He must fight for his country,
Fight for what he thinks is right
He'll defend his wife and children
On the path of glory
Red or yellow, white or brown
All alike, one thought in mind
Who will wear the victor's crown?
Never mind the lame and blind
In the pride of their country,
Good will triumph in the end
Evil will be brought to justice
On the path of glory
Big or little, fat or thin
All are heroes in the end
Unforgivable, the sin
To submit, they don't pretend
They will die for their country
They will die for you and me
Amid the pungent smell of death
That's on the path of glory
Why should man be forced to kill?
Why should they be made to die,
Shattered on some peaceful hill
Torn and bleeding where they lie?
Far away from their country,
Ask yourself the question now
Why should they be forced to set out
On the path of glory?
Producer/Director Steve Binder discusses "Petula", 1968
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