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Remembering JFK: Vaughn Meader – ‘The First Family’ Comedy Album

YouTube, Cadence Records

Today (Nov. 22) marks 50 years since President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed while riding in a motorcade through Dallas, Texas. I was just a toddler when Kennedy was assassinated, so I do not recall any memories from that time. However, I always had a very strong interest in his life and presidency. Maybe it was because of my Mom’s ‘love’ for him.

My mother just adored JFK. We had a bust of the former president on a shelf in our living room my entire childhood. In my mother’s eyes, he could do no wrong.

I always loved comedy albums. (You know, those big round black things that were around before CD’s and cassettes.) Maybe it was these two things, my love of comedy and my mom’s adoration for JFK, that drew me toward the comedy classic ‘The First Family.’

To this day, I think it’s a comedic masterpiece. As a kid, I would listen to it over and over. I knew every line….every joke. Listening back today, it’s amazing how the memories of my mom and listening to it come shooting back. When she and my dad passed away a few years back, one of the things I really wanted to keep, was that copy of the album. I still have that original copy.

On a side note, the star of the album was Abbott Vaughn Meader (March 20, 1936 – October 29, 2004), a very well known entertainer in central Maine. He was known professionally as Vaughn Meader. His impersonation of JFK in ‘The First Family’ was the biggest reason it won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1963.

After the success of the album, he performed his Kennedy impersonation on variety shows and in nightclubs everywhere. His experienced many hard times with his career after the President was assassinated. He continued to perform non-Kennedy related comedy, but had little success. He been typecast.

Meader was a man of many talents and returned to playing music, mostly around the Hallowell, Maine area. he died in October, 2004 (aged 68) of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

His memory lives on. Enjoy Abbott Vaughn Meader’s enormous talents with the complete ‘The First Family,’ which has been captured on YouTube.

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