This article originally appeared at jewishcurrents.org on April 7th, 2011.
Hit singer Petula Clark (“Downtown”) placed her hand on Harry Belafonte’s arm as they sang “On the Path of Glory,” an anti-war song, together on her prerecorded television special on this date in 1968. An account executive from her sponsor, Chrysler, had been present at the taping and objected to the “interracial touching” — whereupon Clark and her husband-producer, Claude Wolff, after consulting with Belafonte, destroyed all the other takes of the song to assure that the touch would be included. The show marked the first time a man and a woman of different races had physical contact on American television. Wolff, the son of a French Jewish architect, had survived the Nazi occupation of Paris and shared his English wife’s progressive politics.
“I still don’t feel safe if the fridge is empty. I always think we should have cans of food just in case.” —Claude Wolff
Watch Petula Clark and Harry Belafonte sing “On the Path of Glory”: