Todd Purdom in Vanity Fair recalls the pomp and circumstance of the youngest ever President succeeding the oldest ever President (at the time) in snowy Washington and reveals two things I never knew before which are, in their way, the opposite sides of the same coin and provide a sense of what a different world it was then:

The one sour note as the rehearsals proceeded was the forced absence of Sinatra’s good pal Sammy Davis Jr., who had been banned from the proceedings on the orders of Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy because of Davis’s recent marriage to the white Swedish actress May Britt.

[ . . . ]

Five of the two dozen performers were black: Sidney Poitier, Harry Belafonte, Mahalia Jackson, Nat King Cole, and Ella Fitzgerald. The following night, J.F.K. would become the first president to dance with black women at an inaugural ball.


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