Friday, March 25, 2011

Today's Tidbit - The "Surprise" Party

Any time I need a laugh, I always remember this tidbit!

During the Presidential election of 1940, the two chief candidates were Franklin D. Roosevelt, the Democratic incumbent, and Wendell Wilkie, his Republican challenger.  However, in the spring of 1940 a 3rd party candidate for the "Surprise Party" successfully stole the limelight from these two men and was enormously popular.  Who was the candidate for the "Surprise Party" and why were they so popular?

 Answer:  This popular Presidential candidate was none other than Gracie Allen, comedienne and wife of George Burns.  What began as a simple radio gimmick and skit took on a life of its own during the spring of 1940 - primarily because you never knew what Gracie would say next.  When asked why her party was named the "Surprise Party", she said "My mother was a Democrat, my father a Republican, and I was born a surprise."  She would pop up on all of the popular radio programs to offer her views on the burning issues of the day.  Gracie on wildlife conservation? - she said she would close all nightclubs by 10 pm.  On whether she would recognize the Soviet Union - "Well, I don't know, I meet so many people!"... On the Neutrality Bill? - "If we owe it, let's pay it."... Her party's mascot was a kangaroo named Laura (1940 was a leap year)... Party slogan:  "It's in the bag".  On May 17, 1940, the Surprise Party held its nominating convention in Omaha , Nebraska - thousands of wildly enthusiastic delegates attended and unanimously nominated her for President.  She had no vice-Presidential candidate however - Gracie warned that she "...had no toleration for vice in her Administration!".  Alas, on Election Day, FDR was reelected with 27 million votes; Wilkie finished 2nd with 22 million;  Gracie garnered only a few thousand, mostly from Oklahoma and Nebraska.  Still, the nation had had fun.  Gracie later said she was glad she had lost.  "I realized that the President of today is merely the postage stamp of tomorrow."... (Don't you wish politics were still this innocent and fun?).

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