We were watching a documentary on Thanksgiving Day about Cincinnati’s famous TV personality, the late Ruth Lyons. In her day no one of importance passed through the Queen City without a visit to the Ruth’s program. During the Vietnam and Civil Rights eras Lyons was outspoken about what was going on in the nation. She was especially distraught over the violence being demonstrated against African Americans in the South.
Her’s was a Midwest, mostly white, female audience and apparently she went too far with many of her followers when she ask the black tenor, Arthur Lee Simpkins, to dance with her. According to those in the know Lyons received an incredible amount of phone calls and letters from fans who were appalled with her actions. It was not yet the time or place for what we consider so common today.
My aunt was a huge fan of Ruth Lyons and while I don’t recall her saying anything about the incident she did go out and buy one of Simpkins’ record albums and it was often heard wafting through the house.
Simpkins had a wonderful tenor voice with a remarkable range and seeing him again on TV prompted a search of Google and YouTube. Of the video clips I found the one I chose is from the old TV program, You Asked for It, starring Art Baker. Simpkins sings two songs in this video, Marie and one operatic piece.
For those of you my age this could be a double shot of nostalgia.