In the photo on the left, Anita Bryant is the second one on
the left and I'm the second one on the right. Anita and I competed against each other for the title of Miss America but, it was a friendly competition. The next year, when the two of us returned to the Pageant as featured entertainers, we were roommates.
I never questioned why we seemed to “fit” as friends….there was just something about us that “meshed”. When the Pageant ended, we hugged and promised to keep-in-touch.
By this time, Anita was on the fast-track to stardom. She had won the Arthur Godfrey talent show, signed a recording contract and was enjoying a hit record…”Paper Roses”.
I, on the other hand, went back to Pine Bluff, AR, married, and became a voice teacher. I couldn’t help but think Anita was headed in the direction I’d always wanted to go. But, I was happy for her and wished her well.
She sent me short notes as she traveled the country and…I found time to keep her current on my less-than-exciting life. She stayed in-touch during my first pregnancy and promised to
visit when the baby arrived and…she did. In fact, while she was at my house, she learned that the baby she and her husband, Bob Green, hoped to adopt, was now theirs. Even more exciting, two months later, she learned she’d become pregnant
in Arkansas and in seven months, would have a child of her own.
On several occasions, I attended Anita’s performances. She was a natural on the stage….regardless of what
she sang. My only concern was how her husband managed her…controlled her…dominated her every moment. I sensed Anita was afraid of him but…he was her manager and she trusted him, hoping he had her best interest at heart.
Looking back at the multiple times we were together, I realize that Bob and I hardly talked; we were never close. Frankly, I don’t believe Bob was close to anyone, even Anita.
Anita was making great money. She had lucrative contracts with Coca Cola and with the Florida Orange Juice Growers. She was making hit recordings, award-winning commercials,
and appearing on TV Shows, regularly. Most impressive were her yearly trips, entertaining the troops, with Bob Hope. But, Anita always found time to sing at Baptist Conventions, to speak and sing at many churches--religious gatherings,
and, most of all, share her love for God.
Without warning, Anita began speaking out about gays....at first....about the gay teachers teaching children,
like hers. She spoke publically against gay teachers and soon became viewed as an activist. In a matter of months, Anita lost her contracts with Coca Cola and Florida Orange Growers. Her records stopped selling, and too quickly….she
was being denounced and boycotted by gays and lesbians--- worldwide.
I’ll always believe Anita’s husband, Bob, encouraged her sudden venture into activism.
As a former DJ, perhaps Bob thought Anita's involvement with controversy could lead her into politics, maybe catapult her into much-more-lucrative-places. I'm sure he was thinking of the money.
I’ll always believe Bob arranged the pie-in-the-face---shockingly-delivered to Anita when she was speaking before an audience on live TV. Rather than making Anita look like the victim of a mob mentality-- a fragile
figure that needed sympathy, Anita’s crusade against gays actually made her look foolish and more like a Bully.
Nothing got better for Anita or her career. After losing most
everything then divorcing, she moved to Selma, Alabama, and opened a dress shop. Too soon she lost what she thought was a promising romance and then lost the dress shop. Like so many single women with children, Anita needed money and a job.
I was living in Atlanta when Anita called to say she'd finally found a job. She had signed a contract with WSB---Atlanta’s ABC Affiliate--as a talk-show host. She was so excited.
The very morning she was to officially start her job…she couldn’t get within three blocks of the TV station. Try as she might, she couldn’t break-through the human chain of gays and lesbians who’d bonded together, shoulder
to shoulder, to form a solid wall of bodies.
From that day until today, the homosexual community has made it their lifelong mission to STOP ANITA. Wherever she lived…
wherever she tried to work or perform…. gays were always there to STOP her.
Homosexuals...worldwide....stayed united to stop Anita at every turn. GAYS WERE RELENTLESS
IN THEIR GOAL TO STOP ANITA. The crusade against Anita continues--- even today.
The last time we spoke was 2001, after I returned from China. She spoke of performing in Tennessee
and promised to send me a timetable of her schedule so we can meet. That was the last time we talked. When I checked with a very-knowing friend about Anita’s performances in Tennessee, I learned that Anita’s audiences had dwindled
to nothing so Anita had been forced to close her performance theatre in Tennessee. Anita had finally given up and gone home… back to Oklahoma.
long ago, Bob Green, Anita’s ex-husband, died in Florida. He died alone, on the streets, penniless, and without friends. I don’t know if Bob had a relationship with his four children. I only know that Anita had nothing left to say-- once their
divorce was final.
I have no sympathy for the Gay Community. They carried their “vendetta” against Anita too-far and for too-long. Regardless of whether Anita was right
or wrong to speak-out against homosexuality…she had the right to do so.
Did she carry her opinion too far? Did Anita under-estimate the power of her enemy?Should Anita
have spoken less and sung more? Maybe.