50 Years After the Birth of Camelot

50 Years After the Birth of Camelot

Where does the time go? This week marks the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's inauguration. The gala was held the night before at the National Guard Armory in Washington, D.C. and featured more stars than the milky way including, Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, Ella Fitzgerald and Harry Belafonte.

Also in attendance were Bette Davis, Anthony Quinn, Lawrence Olivier, Sidney Poitier, and a rising star named Angie Dickinson.

Dickinson said, "The inauguration was a thrill beyond words! It wasn't just a gala, it was a gala with a monumental snowstorm!"

But somehow, everybody got there.

America's new glamorous First Lady-to be, Jacqueline Kennedy, wasn't feeling well, but she braved illness and the storm to be at her husband's side.

And oh, the talent in the room! The biggest names in show biz, including Harry Belafonte, Nat King Cole, the legendary Gene Kelly, and smooth-as-satin singer Ella Fitzgerald.

A stirring rendition of the national anthem was sung by the woman known as the Queen of Gospel, Mahalia Jackson. And the Queen of Broadway, Ethel Merman made it, despite the weather!

Dickinson recalls, "Ethel Merman, her plane barely got in. She had to go onstage in her street clothes! Everything was bigger than life!"

The one and only Frank Sinatra was master of ceremonies. Besides the talent in the room, the room itself was a jaw-dropper, as comedy icon Milton Berle pointed out, saying, "How do you like this place? I've played cities smaller than this!"

The festivities continued well past midnight and was a true wedding of show biz and politics.

The Kennedy presidency would last just 1,000 days, ending with his assassination in November, 1963. But on that magical night, it looked like forever.

 "It was, he's going to lead us and guide us to change the world," recalls Dickinson.