Today is the 50th anniversary of the death of Alice B. Toklas in Paris, one event in a memorable 1967.
In a post several years ago, I used the title “That Was The Year That Was,” a variation of the mid- 1960s television show called “That Was The Week That Was.” The program, a predecessor of “Saturday Night Live,” and John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight,” took a humorous, satiric look at the news of the previous week.
To commemorate Alice, I’m looking at “…The Year That Was,” 1967. (She lived without Gertrude for twenty-one years.)
Alice died just seven weeks before her 90th birthday. This may be one of the last photographs of her taken early in 1967 by Donald Frank, the son of a childhood friend from San Francisco. I have always loved the Kleenex on the bed and Alice’s Pall Mall in hand!
Other well-known people who died in 1967 include writers Langston Hughes, Dorothy Parker, Carl Sandburg, and Carson McCullers. Actors who died that year – Spencer Tracy, Vivien Leigh, Basil Rathbone and Bert Lahr. Woody Guthrie and John Coltraine also died in 1967, as did poster boy in many a 1960s college dorm room, Che Guevara.
Celebrities born fifty years ago: Jamie Foxx, Julia Roberts, Vanilla Ice, Harry Connick Jr., Faith Hill, Dave Matthews, Benecio Del Toro, Nicole Kidman, Vin Diesel and Pamela Anderson (who would have thought Alice B. and Pamela Anderson could appear on the same page?!).
And what was happening in the arts?
The best selling book was Elia Kazan’s Mad Man-era novel, The Arrangement. “The theater’s loss is literature’s gain: Elia Kazan has written a striking novel.” (Saturday Review)
At the Oscars the best picture, “In the Heat of the Night;” best director, Mike Nichols for “The Graduate;” best actor, Rod Steiger, “In the Heat of the Night;” best actress, Katherine Hepburn, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner;” and best song, “Talk to the Animals” from “Dr. Doolittle.”
In music: Elvis married Priscilla; The Beatles released both “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Magical Mystery Tour;” Aretha Franklin recorded “R-E-S-P-E-C-T;” radios also played “Happy Together” by The Turtles, “Light My Fire” by The Doors and Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode to Billie Joe,” while the #1 song of the year was “To Sir With Love” by Lulu.
On television the shows that premiered included “The Newlywed Game,” “The Smother’s Brothers Comedy Hour,” “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and “The Carol Burnett Show.” The top-rated TV program was “The Andy Griffith Show.” The top-selling cigarette brand, still advertised on TV, was Marlboro.
On Broadway, “Cabaret” won the Tony and HAIR opened and would run for 1,750 performances.
The first Boeing 737 soared in 1967 and EXPO 67 in Montreal welcomed the world to another World’s Fair, a concept that would soon be on its way out.
LBJ was in the White House and bombs were being dropped in Vietnam. The U.S. Military Draft was in effect, but the Draft Lottery would still be two years away.
And the cost of living? The average U.S. income was $7,300; the average new house was $14,350; a new car cost $2,750; gas 33 cents a gallon; a movie ticket $1.25 and the minimum wage was increased to $1.40 while the year-end Dow Jones Industrial Average reached 905!
I graduated from Springfield High School in May (I can’t convince myself to go to this September’s reunion) and began my four years at Illinois College, only thirty six miles from home, but a whole new world of experiences away!
While in San Francisco”The Summer of Love” would officially usher in Hippiedom and Alice’s 1954, North African inspired, non chocolate, Hashish Fudge recipe would morph into the tastier Alice B. Toklas brownie for which generations have been thankful!
Nineteen Sixty Seven, “That Was the Year That Was’ and Alice B., you were a part of that groovy time! “I (We) Love You, Alice B. Toklas” (and so does Gertrude Stein!) Sorry, that movie didn’t come around till 1968!