Reviews of a Revue
The Fords invited actress-singer-dancer Ann-Margret to entertain guests after the dinner honoring the Shahanshah and Empress of Iran. Known for her work in musicals and movies including Bye Bye Birdie and Tommy, she had also traveled to Southeast Asia on a USO tour to entertain troops stationed there.
Ann-Margret’s debut White House performance was based on her night club act. Her musical numbers included “I Won’t Last a Day Without You,” “Swedish Lullaby,” and a “Salute to the Bicentennial.”
Press reaction to the entertainment was mixed to negative. The Fords took it in stride. “We certainly didn’t please all of the people all of the time. We thought it was great, for instance, to ask Ann-Margret,” Betty Ford wrote in her memoirs. “Well, Betty Beale came out with a column in the Washington Star that ripped us up and down for having made that choice.” Other commentators called the Vegas-style revue tasteless and deemed it too low-brow for the White House and its royal guests.
Members of the Claude Kipnis Mime Theatre didn’t have to pretend to be excited when President Ford congratulated them after their performance in the East Room.
Kipnis and seven of his students performed their mix of ballet, drama, and music as after-dinner entertainment for First Secretary and Mrs. Edward Gierek of Poland. Their final piece, Circus Parade, was also televised.
Kipnis also gave President Ford a copy of his book The Mime Book for Mrs. Ford since she was unable to attend the performance.
Happy Birthday Bob Hope! The entertainer would be celebrating 110 years today.
Here, Hope and Betty Ford do a few steps to warm up during preparations for the State Dinner held in honor of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip on July 7, 1976. Hope was featured during the entertainment portion of the evening.
-from the Ford Library
The Princess of Wales meets the King of Disco - On November 9, 1985, the Reagans hosted a gala dinner for Prince Charles and Princess Diana at the White House.
Among the guests was John Travolta. At First Lady Nancy Reagan’s request, he took to the dance floor for an impromptu twirl with Princess Diana.
Unfortunately, no video footage was taken of the famous dance. However, here’s a sequence of the moves that made headlines across the world.
-from the Reagan Library