Online Collection

"The First Family" record album

Object Number: 2003.048.0108
Category: Audio
Type of Object: Record album
Date: 1962
Dimensions: 12 1/4 x 12 1/4 in. (31.1 x 31.1 cm)
Medium: Vinyl
Description
"The First Family" record album, featuring Vaughn Meader and other comedians in a good-natured parody of the Kennedy White House. Released in November 1962, the album sold more than 7.5 million copies within its first year of release. It achieved the number one position on the Billboard Pop Albums charts and won the Grammy Award for "Album of the Year" in 1963.

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Curator's Notes

Vaughn Meader achieved instant fame for his uncanny impression of President Kennedy, though his career floundered after the assassination. He passed away in near obscurity on October 29, 2004.

This successful comedy album was followed in March 1963 by a sequel, The First Family, Volume Two, which was not as successful. A rumored third album, possibly a Christmas special, was allegedly in development but was canceled after the assassination.

President Kennedy made several public references to "The First Family," indicating that while he enjoyed the impersonation, he thought Vaughn Meader sounded more like the president's brother, Senator Ted Kennedy. - Stephen Fagin, Curator

Vaughn Meader was one of many impressionists who “did” JFK during his presidency.  Kennedy’s Boston accent was easy to mimic and several comedians quickly added him to their act after his election….but none as effectively as Meader.  Not only was his characterization better, he looked a lot like President Kennedy.  What was a promising career came to an immediate end with the president’s death, a fact memorialized a few nights later by controversial comedian Lenny Bruce, who walked on stage at the Village Theater in Manhattan for his scheduled performance, paused a moment and said, paraphrasing for sources are conflicting, “Man, poor Vaughn Meader.”  - Gary Mack, Curator

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