A Performance Changed History

Photo courtesy of a 1964 album cover

In 1965, Petula Clark watched “Downtown” climb to No. 1 on the American charts. Three million copies were sold in America while the song was already a success in the UK, France (in both the English and the French versions), the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Italy, Rhodesia, Japan and India.

Here she is singing her signature song in 1967 on the Dean Martin Show:

Clark is 85 years old and still going strong. She started singing and performing at a very young age. Here is an interview about her career, and a rather racy revelation:

In 1968, NBC-TV invited Clark to host her own special in the U.S., and in doing so she inadvertently made television history. On the special, Clark sang a duet called, “On the Path of Glory,” with Harry Belafonte. During the performance, she placed her hand on his arm. The sponsor, the Chrysler Corporation, insisted that the show’s Executive Producer, Clark’s husband, substitute a different version of the taping of the song. They were afraid of a racial backlash from Southern viewers.

Clark and her husband refused and destroyed all other tapes of the song, delivering the finished program to NBC. The special aired on April 8, 1968, four days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. This scene became the first time on American TV that showed physical contact between a black man and a white woman.

Here she is singing in French for a charity show in February 2018.

Best wishes,