“First Family” VAUGHN MEADER’s comic JFK impressions skyrocketed him to fame but his career, like Kennedy’s life, died 11.22.63.
Abbott Vaughn Meader was the Guinness World Record-holder for the fastest-selling album of all time. His album of John F. Kennedy satire, “The First Family,” amazingly sold a million copies during its first two weeks of release in 1962.
Meader, then in his late 20s, was overwhelmed with critical accolades as well.
“The First Family” won a Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1963 — as he appeared on national TV like Ed Sullivan Show and The Andy Williams Show while only in his late 20s.
Kennedy himself was said to have given copies of the album as Christmas presents and once greeted A DNC committee, "Vaughn Meader was busy tonight, so I came myself."
Yet, Meader’s meteoric fame ended just as quickly as it happened — 50 years ago today, The Bangor Daily News reported.
Reportedly, Meader heard the news of Kennedy’s assassination riding in a cab in Milwaukee en route to do his shtick for the state Democratic Party.
“The driver turned and said, ‘Did you hear about Kennedy in Dallas?’
Thanks to his numerous TV appearances and AM radio stations blaring the “First Family” non-stop Meader was frequently stopped by strangers wanting some Camelot Yuks and simply figured it was a setup line for a joke.
“No,” he is said to have replied. “How does it go?”
Before the driver could answer, Meader heard the news over the cab’s radio.
Meader knew at that instant his career and his fame was finished.
Copies of The First Family were pulled from retailers and a JFK-related Christmas single by Meader that had been released by Verve Records a few weeks before the assassination was quickly withdrawn. Meader’s TV appearances that were already booked, including one the Grammy Awards ceremony, were canceled.
An episode of “The Joey Bishop Show”, which Meader filmed one week earlier was pulled, never aired and was said to be erased
According to multiple sources, notorious standup satirist Lenny Bruce went on with his November 22 nightclub show as scheduled. Hours after JFK's death, Bruce walked onstage, stood silently for several moments, then said sadly, "Man, poor Vaughn Meader.”
In the years that followed, Meader is quoted as frequently describing Nov. 22, 1963, as, “The day I died.”
With the market for Kennedy satire gone and several failed attempts to reboot his career with new material Meader returned home to Maine working as a part-time musician and local pub manager.
Meader actually died Oct. 29, 2004.