African Americans on TV -
Variety Shows

February 1, 2002

Narrator:
While Laugh-In's bawdy humor suggested 'anything goes,' some things were still considered taboo on TV.



Narrator:
That's what top-10 recording artist Petula Clark learned when she made her first NBC special in 1968.

I wanted a guest, obviously, and they said, "Who would you like?" and I said Harry Belafonte.

Narrator:
Clark and Belafonte performed an anti-war song called "Paths Of Glory."
("On The Path Of Glory" was co-written by Petula Clark)
And of course because it's a very emotional song I just took hold of his arm as a natural thing.

Petula put her hand on Belafonte's arm or whatever and it was a big deal. Please!

Narrator:
An executive at the show's sponsor, Plymouth, saw the taping and objected to Clark's physical contact with Belafonte.

I didn't get it. I just didn't understand what was going on.

Narrator:
Fearing negative reactions in the South, Plymouth threatened to pull their sponsorship unless the offending scene was cut. But Clark and her producers refused to re-shoot the show.

She wasn't even doing me a favor, or doing the race a favor. She was just looking at the way it should be.

Petula working on a commercial for Plymouth.

Narrator: When the story was picked up in the press Plymouth issued a public apology. The special aired uncut.

Harry Belafonte: The way it was for Petula Clark and everyone involved with this, how they stepped up to the table, I think it was absolutely a wonderful moment