YOU CAN'T FIGHT THE WORLD-- ALONE--AND HOPE TO WIN.
Anita Bryant 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 also roommates.
I never questioned why we seemed to “fit” as friends but---there was just something about us that “connected”. 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 titled: “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 had to trust --and hope-- Bob had her best interest at heart.
Looking back at the multiple times we were together, I realized Bob and I seldom- 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 found time to sing at Baptist Conventions and speak at many churches and religious gatherings. Most of all, Anita never wavered in sharing her love for God.
Without warning, Anita began speaking out against gays----starting with---the gay teachers--- teaching her children. Because of her very-public attacks against gay teachers--- Anita was soon viewed as a very-determined Activist.
In a matter of months, Anita lost her contracts with Coca Cola and Florida Orange Growers. Very soon, her records stopped selling and--all-too quickly, Anita was publically- denounced and boycotted by gays and lesbians--- worldwide. The photo on the right shows Anita holding a Press Conference with her husband and agent, Bob Green, beside her---when suddenly---she receives the infamous--- Pie-In-The-Face!
I’ll always believe Anita’s husband, Bob, encouraged her sudden venture into activism. As a former DJ, Bob thought Anita's involvement with controversy could lead her into politics, maybe catapult her into much-more-lucrative-places. No doubt, Bob was thinking about the money.
And, I'm almost- certain Bob arranged the pie-in-the-face that Anita received when she was speaking to the Media on live TV. Rather than making Anita look like the victim of mob mentality--- a fragile figure that needed sympathy-- Anita’s crusade against gays actually made her look foolish and much-like a Bully.
Nothing got better for Anita or her career. After losing most everything, then divorcing Bob, Anita 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 found a job. She had signed a contract with WSB---Atlanta’s ABC Affiliate--as a talk-show host. She was excited. The morning she was to officially start her job--she couldn’t get within three blocks of the 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 now, the homosexual community has made it their lifelong mission to STOP ANITA. Wherever she lived--wherever she tried to perform-- gays were always there to STOP her.
Homosexuals--worldwide--have stayed united to stop Anita at every turn. GAYS STAY "RELENTLESS" IN THEIR GOAL TO STOP ANITA. Even today, The crusade against Anita continues---
The last time we spoke was 2001, shortly-after I returned from China. She spoke of performing in
Tennessee and promised to send me a timetable of her schedule so we could meet. That was the last time we talked. After awhile, I checked with a close friend about Anita and learned--- Anita’s audiences had steadily-dwindled to the
point---she was forced to close her Tennessee Theatre. It seems that, after years of trying to overcome the "obstacles," she finally decided to"give up" and go home----back to Oklahoma.
Not long ago, Bob Green, Anita’s ex-husband, died in Florida. He died alone--on the street in front of his former house with Anita--penniless and without family or friends. I don’t know if he had a relationship with his four children. I only know that Anita had nothing left to say once the 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?
Anita was THE BEST at singing but---not necessarily the best person to challenge such a huge and controversial issue. Sadly, I know too-well how time marches on and---LIFE seldom—if ever-- gives us a "second chance" for a “repeat performance.”