Diana Ross Meets Romney!? Read the Preceeding Post to See Who, What, When, Where, Why…

Diana Ross and the Supremes with Romney, as in Mitt's dad, 1965.

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  1. Carl;
    As a music fan of Motown and The Supremes, I was surprised to see the 1965 photo of the group with George Romney resurface. Lost in the mists of time, the trio’s nearly disastrous backing of Hubert Humphrey during the 1968 Presidential Campaign is examined in Mark Ribowsky’s “The Supremes A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success and Betrayal,”
    On July 23, 1968, Motown label President, Berry Gordy arranged for the women to publicly endorse Humphrey for Democratic Presidential candidate at a press conference at New York’s Waldorf-Astoria. His thinking was to have The Supremes reap more credibility as mature, politically aware artists, whether they cared to or not.
    Ribowsky muses, “As popping flashlights coated them with streaks of light, they posed in brightly colored mini-dresses with a beaming Humphrey – who likely didn’t know “Baby Love” from “Rub A Dub,” but was aware that he needed to shore up his support among black voters. Diana Ross read a prepared statement written by Gordy saying the group “had thoroughly research[ed] his record and talk[ed] to him for hours and hours.”
    Cynical political reporters bombarded a flustered Ross with questions about specific issues, which she had no clue about, prompting Humphrey to come to her rescue stating they had “discussed a greater emphasis on urban policy” and that “Miss Ross is very interested in the quality of life in the United States.” “Yes, yes I am,” she agreed meekly.
    The last laugh over this fiasco went to Florence Ballard, the fired member of the group, who would be remembered as the character “Effie” in “Dreamgirls.” She was pitched to Nixon’s people as the “other” Supreme’s endorsement. On a very shortlist of black celebrities who backed Nixon, Ballard was not forgotten and was up on stage singing for a well-heeled, powerful, and white crowd, which was where her former partners, The Supremes would have been if they had chosen differently in the campaign.
    Diana Ross did eventually get her invitation to the White House to accept the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007 from President George W. Bush.

    • Dear Mark – That is an extraordinary story! I think it can be dicey for professional performers to express their political views sometimes, unless it is genuine and heartfelt – and they understand the risk they take to alienating potential segments of those who buy their work. You so well capture the details of this episode and I know that not only I but other readers will appreciate the further “expanded footnote” – a story in and of itself! Thank you.

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