Anita Jane Bryant (born March 25, 1940) is an American singer, former Miss Oklahoma beauty pageant winner, and outspoken critic of homosexuality. She scored four Top 40 hits in the United States in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including "Paper Roses", which reached #5. She later became known for her strong views against homosexuality and for her campaigning in 1977 to repeal a local ordinance in Dade County, Florida, that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, an involvement that significantly damaged her popularity and career.
• 1 Early life and career
• 2 Political campaigning
o 2.1 Victory and defeat
• 3 Career decline and bankruptcies
• 4 Singles
o 4.1 Charted hits
• 5 Cultural references
• 6 References
• 7 External links
Early life and career
Bryant was born in Barnsdall, Oklahoma. After her parents divorced, her father went into the U.S. Army and her mother went to work, taking her children to live with their grandparents temporarily. When Bryant was two years old, her grandfather taught her to sing "Jesus Loves Me". She was singing at the age of six onstage on local fairgrounds in Oklahoma. She sang occasionally on radio and television, and was invited to audition when Arthur Godfrey's talent show came to town.
Bryant became Miss Oklahoma in 1958 and was a second runner-up in the 1959 Miss America beauty pageant at age 19, right after graduating from Tulsa's Will Rogers High School.
In 1960, she married Bob Green (1931–2012), a Miami disc jockey, with whom she eventually raised four children: Robert Jr. (Bobby), Gloria, Billy, and Barbara. She divorced him in 1980, drawing criticism of hypocrisy from the Christian right regarding the indissolubility of Christian marriage which Bryant had championed and "the deterioration of the family" against which she had preached. She appeared early in her career on the NBC interview program Here's Hollywood and on the same network's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.
"Little Things Mean a Lot"
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Bryant placed a total of 11 songs on the U.S. Hot 100, although most were at the bottom reaches of the chart. She had a moderate pop hit with "Till There Was You" (1959, US #30). She also saw three hits in "Paper Roses" (1960, US #5, and covered by Marie Osmond 13 years later); "In My Little Corner of the World" (1960, US #10); and "Wonderland by Night" (1961, US #18).
Bryant released several albums on the Carlton and Columbia labels. The 1959 Carlton LP Anita Bryant contained "Till There Was You" (from The Music Man). The 1963 Columbia Greatest Hits LP contained both Carlton and Columbia songs, including "Paper Roses" and "Step by Step, Little by Little". In 1964 she released The World of Lonely People, containing, in addition to the title song, "Welcome, Welcome Home" and a new rendition of "Little Things Mean a Lot", arranged by Frank Hunter.
In 1969 she became a spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission, and nationally televised commercials featured her singing "Come to the Florida Sunshine Tree" and stating the commercials' tagline: "Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine." (Later, the slogan became, "It isn't just for breakfast any more!") All the commercials are now preserved and owned by the Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives in Miami. In addition, during this time, she also appeared in advertisements for Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Holiday Inn and Tupperware.
She sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" during the graveside services for Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973, and performed the National Anthem at Super Bowl III in 1969.
She was interviewed by Playboy in May 1978.
Further information: Save Our Children and 1977 in LGBT rights
In 1977, Dade County, Florida passed an ordinance sponsored by Bryant's former good friend Ruth Shack, that prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.Bryant led a highly publicized campaign to repeal the ordinance as the leader of a coalition named Save Our Children. The campaign was based on conservative Christianbeliefs regarding the sinfulness of homosexuality and the perceived threat of homosexual recruitment of children and child molestation. Bryant stated:
"What these people really want, hidden behind obscure legal phrases, is the legal right to propose to our children that theirs is an acceptable alternate way of life. [...] I will lead such a crusade to stop it as this country has not seen before."
The campaign began an organized opposition to gay rights that spread across the nation. Jerry Falwell went to Miami to help her. Bryant made the following statements during the campaign: "As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children" and "If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nail biters." She also added that "All America and all the world will hear what the people have said, and with God's continued help we will prevail in our fight to repeal similar laws throughout the nation."
Victory and defeat
Gay Rights campaigners organized their own high profile opposition to Bryant's campaign which publicly denounced her and included a boycott of Florida Citrus products for which Bryant was the spokesperson at the time.
On June 7, 1977, Bryant's campaign led to a repeal of the anti-discrimination ordinance by a margin of 69 to 31 percent. However, the success of Bryant's campaign galvanized her opponents and the gay community retaliated against her by organizing a boycott of orange juice. Gay bars all over North America took screwdrivers off their drink menus and replaced them with the "Anita Bryant", which was made with vodka and apple juice.Sales and proceeds went to gay civil rights activists to help fund their fight against Bryant and her campaign.
In 1977, Florida legislators approved a measure prohibiting gay adoption. The ban was overturned more than 30 years later when, on November 25, 2008, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy S. Lederman declared it unconstitutional and "not rational."
Bryant led several more campaigns around the country to repeal local anti-discrimination ordinances including St. Paul, Minnesota, Wichita, Kansas, and Eugene, Oregon. Her success led to an effort to pass the Briggs Initiative in California which would have made pro- or neutral statements regarding homosexuals or homosexuality by any public school employee cause for dismissal. Grass-roots liberal organizations, chiefly in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area, sprang up to defeat the initiative. Days before the election, the California Democratic Party opposed the proposed legislation. Former Governor and future President Ronald Reagan voiced opposition to the initiative, and it ultimately suffered a massive defeat at the polls.
In 1998 Dade County repudiated Bryant's successful campaign of 20 years earlier, and re-authorized an anti-discrimination ordinance protecting individuals from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation by a seven to six vote. In 2002 a ballot initiative to repeal the 1998 law called Amendment 14 was voted down by 56 percent of the voters. The Florida statute forbidding gay adoption was upheld in 2004 by a federal appellate court against a constitutional challenge, but was overturned by a Miami-Dade Circuit Court in November 2008.
Bob Green and Anita Bryant at a press conference in Des Moines, Iowa, where she was famously "pied" on camera by a gay rights activist.
Bryant became one of the first persons to be publicly "pied" as a political act (in her case, on television), in Des Moines in 1977. Bryant quipped "At least it's a fruit pie", apparently making a pun on the derogatory term for a gay man ("fruit"). While covered in pie, she began to pray to God to forgive the activist "for his deviant lifestyle" before bursting into tears as the cameras kept rolling. Bryant's husband, after promising not to retaliate, later took another pie and threw it at the protesters who had pied his wife. By this time, gay activists had ensured the boycott on Florida orange juice had become more prominent and it was supported by many celebrities including Barbra Streisand, Bette Midler, Paul Williams, John Waters, Carroll O'Connor, Mary Tyler Moore, Linda Lavin and Jane Fonda. In 1978, Bryant and Bob Green told the story of their campaign in the book, At Any Cost. Even many years after her campaign, the gay community continued to regard her name as synonymous with bigotry andhomophobia.
Bryant's 1977 political efforts are chronicled in Elizabeth Whitney's one-woman show A Day Without Sunshine.
Career decline and bankruptcies
The fallout from her political activism hurt her business and entertainment career. Her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission was allowed to lapse in 1979 because of the controversy and the negative publicity generated by her political campaigns and the resulting boycott of Florida orange juice.
Her marriage to Bob Green also failed at that time, and in 1980 she divorced him, citing emotional abuse and latent suicidal thoughts. Green refused to accept this, saying that his fundamentalist religious beliefs did not recognize civil divorce and that she was "still" his wife "in God's eyes." In 2007, Green stated: "Blame gay people? I do. Their stated goal was to put her out of business and destroy her career. And that's what they did. It's unfair."
Some fundamentalist audiences and venues shunned her after her divorce. As she was no longer invited to appear at their events, she lost another major source of income. With three of her four children, she moved from Miami to Selma, Alabama, and later to Atlanta, Georgia. In a 1980 Ladies Home Journal article she said, "The church needs to wake up and find some way to cope with divorce and women's problems." She also expressed some sympathy for feminist aspirations, given her own experiences of emotional abuse within her previous marriage.
Bryant appeared in Michael Moore's 1989 documentary film Roger & Me, in which she is interviewed and travels to Flint, Michigan, as part of the effort to revitalize the devastated local economy.
She married her second husband, Charlie Hobson Dry, in 1990. The couple tried to reestablish her music career in a series of small venues, including Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee where they opened "Anita Bryant's Music Mansion". The establishment combined Bryant's performances of her successful songs from early in her career with a "lengthy segment in which she preached her Christian beliefs." The venture was not successful and the Music Mansion, which had missed meeting payrolls at times, filed for bankruptcy in 2001 with Bryant and Dry leaving behind a series of unpaid employees and creditors.
Bryant also spent part of the 1990s in the country music mecca of Branson, Missouri, where the state and federal governments filed liens claiming more than $116,000 in unpaid taxes. Bryant and Dry had also filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Arkansas in 1997 after piling up bills from a failed Anita Bryant show in Eureka Springs, a tourist area in northwest Arkansas. Among the debts were more than $172,000 in unpaid state and federal taxes.
In 2005, Bryant returned to Barnsdall, Oklahoma, for the town's 100th anniversary celebration and to have a street renamed in her honor. She returned to her high school in Tulsa on April 21, 2007, to perform in the school's annual musical revue. She now lives in Edmond, Oklahoma, and says she does charity work for various youth organizations while heading Anita Bryant Ministries International.
In a 1980 Ladies Home Journal interview, following her divorce and in the aftermath of her anti-gay activism, Bryant commented on her anti-gay views and said, "I'm more inclined to say live and let live, just don't flaunt it or try to legalize it." However, the biography page on her Anita Bryant Ministries website (written in 2006) continues to defend her earlier anti-gay activism and views.
Year Title Chart positions
1959 "Till There Was You"
30 — — —
"Six Boys and Seven Girls" 62 — — —
94 — — —
1960 "Paper Roses"
5 16 — 24
"In My Little Corner of the World"
10 — — 48
"One of the Lucky Ones" 62 — — —
"Promise Me a Rose (A Slight Detail)" 78 — — —
1961 "Wonderland by Night"
18 — — —
"A Texan and a Girl from Mexico" 85 — — —
"I Can't Do It by Myself" 87 — — —
"Lonesome For You, Mama" 108 — — —
1962 "Step By Step, Little By Little" 106 — — —
1964 "The World of Lonely People" 59 — 17 —
"Welcome, Welcome Home" 130 — — —
Bryant's public persona has led to her being referred to (and often satirized) throughout popular culture:
• In the comic book, Howard the Duck, a character called The Sinister SOOFI (with her organization "Save Our Offspring from Indecency") is a parody of Bryant. After Howard smashes her mask (in the shape of an orange) on her head, he recognizes her, and she says, "And what's a girl from the Sunshine State doing in the trenches...A day without imposing my morality on someone else is like a day without--well, you know!"
• In the TV series Will & Grace, the character Karen Walker refers to Anita Bryant as being her enemy who fell in love with her.
• Bryant was often lampooned by comedy actress Jane Curtin who was a regular on Saturday Night Live. The first was in a 1976 edition in which she portrayed Bryant being held captive in Beirut by two Arab terrorists but tries to promote orange juice to them. Her captors drink the juice and agree it is delicious, but as Bryant starts to sing her infamous jingle from the TV commercials, they place a bag over her head and order a firing squad to shoot her. A 1977 edition of "Weekend Update" showed a photo of a scowling Bryant as Curtin reports: "Our top story tonight: A report from Florida states that Anita Bryant plans to undergo a sex-change operation this Spring. The exact date will not be set until the popular TV personality decides which sex to change to." In another 1977 edition in which Curtin played a newscaster on a spoof news show "Weekend Update", the then-recent clip of Bryant being pied on television was shown. Returning to the news studio, Curtin stated "Fortunately, Ms. Bryant, who was not injured, enjoyed a good laugh, and said it was okay if the assailant dated her husband."  Another was in 1980 in which she portrayed Bryant planning an anti-gay sting operation with police and gets angry when one of the officers turns down her offer of orange juice by saying he'd already had some for breakfast (Bryant's famous slogan when she did her Florida Orange Juice commercials was "it's not just for breakfast").
• In the TV series Designing Women, Bryant is mentioned in several episodes by Suzanne Sugarbaker (played by Delta Burke), referencing both her beauty pageant history, as well as her political activism which Suzanne disagreed with.
• In an episode of the TV sitcom The Golden Girls, an effeminate male wedding planner is overcome with emotion, causing character Blanche Devereaux to sarcastically comment, "You're ready to fly right outta here, aren't you?" The man replies, "Well, excuse me for living, Anita Bryant!"  In another episode, character Dorothy Zbornakcomplains that although she and Rose Nylund placed second in a song-writing contest about Miami, they still got "treated badly" because the judges told them "to get out of the way as they took the winner's picture with Anita Bryant." 
• Mad magazine's parody of the television sitcom Three's Company (where John Ritter's character, Jack, pretends to be gay to share an apartment with two women) ends with a visit from the "new landlord", a whip-wielding Anita Bryant.
• In an episode of TV's Gilmore Girls, Lorelai says to her father that he could fill a huge gap after Anita Bryant because her father always has half a grapefruit for breakfast.
• In the song "Fuck Aneta Briant" [sic] on his 1978 album Nothing Sacred, country singer David Allan Coe expresses his feelings for Bryant.
• In Armistead Maupin's 1980 novel More Tales of the City, Michael Tolliver's parents write to him praising Anita Bryant's "Save Our Children" campaign, prompting him to write back and come out of the closet.
• In the film Airplane!, Leslie Nielsen's character, Doctor Rumack, upon seeing a large number of passengers become violently ill, vomit, and suffer uncontrollable flatulence, says, "I haven't seen anything this bad since the Anita Bryant concert."
• In the 2008 film Milk, Bryant's anti-gay activism is shown in various newsreels.
• On their 2004 album Un, UK band Chumbawamba made reference to Bryant being pied on television on the track "Just Desserts". The track also included an audio sample of the event itself.
• In 1977, the album Lesbian Concentrate was released by Olivia Records in protest to Bryant's anti-gay campaigning. The album featured a collection of songs and poems by different artists. The liner notes to the album referred to Bryant as "a part-time orange juice pusher". Part of the proceeds from the album went to the Lesbian Mothers National Defense Fund, an organization dedicated to helping lesbian mothers keep their children.
• The Dead Kennedys song "Moral Majority" addresses Bryant along with Phyllis Schlafly and others, with the refrain "God must be dead if you're alive."
• In the 1978 song "Mañana" by Jimmy Buffett, Buffett says "I hope Anita Bryant never ever does one of my songs."
• Rock musician Leon Russell wrote a song entitled "Anita Bryant" in 1978 in which he makes reference to going to school with her. The song was released as the B-side of his single "Elvis & Marilyn". Russell, born Claude Russell Bridges, did in fact attend Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma with Bryant and Elvin Bishop.
• In the TV sitcom Soap, Anita Bryant is mentioned in various episodes in conjunction with the gay character Jodie Dallas.
• On the A Single Man Tour in Russia 1979, Elton John responds to critique for touring in Russia due to the political situation: "I wouldn't say I won't tour in America because I can't stand Anita Bryant".
1. ^ a b c d e Tobin, Thomas C. (April 28, 2002). "Bankruptcy, ill will plague Bryant". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved June 14, 2011.
2. ^ Sinclair, Kip (1980). Anita Bryant Rates Family Bliss Next to Godliness, but After 20 Years She's Divorcing Bob Green. 13. Archived from the original on 10 January 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2010.
3. ^ Elinor J. Brecher, Steve Rothaus. "One-time disc jockey Bob Green, Anita Bryant's husband during 1977 gay-rights battle, dies at 80". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 2012-05-05.
4. ^ a b 1977 "Year in Review: Miami Demonstrations". United Press International.
5. ^ a b c d e f Bryant, Anita; Green, Bob (1978). At Any Cost. Grand Rapids, Michigan, US: Fleming H. Revell. ISBN B004V8W7OO.
6. ^ a b c d e f g Marcus, Eric (2002). Making Gay History: The Half-Century Fight for Lesbian and Gay Equal Rights. New York, US: Harper. ISBN 0-06-093391-7.
7. ^ a b Almanzar, Yolanne (2008-11-25). "Florida Gay Adoption Ban Is Ruled Unconstitutional". The New York Times.
8. ^ 'For the Bible Tells Me So': Setting us straight
9. ^ CNN Transcripts
10. ^ Louis-Georges Tin, Dictionary of Homophobia: A Global History of Gay & Lesbian Experience (2003), ISBN 978-1-55152-229-6
11. ^ Bryant, Anita
12. ^ a b c Bryant, Anita (1992). A New Day. Nashville, TN: Broadman. ISBN B000LEM04E.
13. ^ Steve Rothaus. "Bob Green: Anita's ex paid dearly in the fight". The Miami Herald. Retrieved 2012-05-05.
14. ^ a b Jahr, Cliff (1980). "Anita Bryant's Startling Reversal". Ladies Home Journal(Charter Company) (December 1980): 60–68.
15. ^ "Anita Bryant Biography". Anita Bryant Ministries International. 2006. Retrieved 2009-09-14.
16. ^ Steve Gerber. "If You Knew Soofi..." Howard the Duck #21, Marvel Comics.
17. ^ Gail Lerner (w) (Feb 10, 2005). "Dance Cars and Greetings Cards". Will & Grace. episode 16. season 7. NBC. "First Anita Bryant and now this..."
18. ^ "Dyan Cannon". Saturday Night Live. episode 20. season 1. May 15, 1976. NBC.
19. ^ "Steve Martin". Saturday Night Live. episode 14. season 2. Feb 26, 1977. NBC.
20. ^ "Hugh Hefner". Saturday Night Live. episode 3. season 3. Oct 15, 1977. NBC.
21. ^ "Burt Reynolds". Saturday Night Live. episode 16. season 5. April 12, 1980. NBC.
22. ^ "Monette". Designing Women. episode 13. season 1. Feb 8, 1987. NBC.
23. ^ "Sophia's Wedding (1)". The Golden Girls. episode 6. season 4. Nov 19, 1988. NBC.
24. ^ "Big Daddy's Little Lady". The Golden Girls. episode 6. season 2. Nov 15, 1986. NBC.
25. ^ "He's Company". Mad Magazine (DC Comics) #196 (January 1978). 1978.
26. ^ "Richard in Stars Hollow". Gilmore Girls. episode 12. season 2. Jan 29, 2002. WB.
27. ^ David Allen Coe – Nothing Sacred (lyrics/liner notes) (DAC Records, 1978)
28. ^ Maupin, Armistead (1980). More Tales of the City. New York, US: Harper & Row.ISBN 0-06-090726-6.
29. ^ Airplane! (film), 1980, Paramount Pictures.
30. ^ Milk (film), 2008, Focus Features
31. ^ Chumbawamba – Un (lyrics/liner notes) (MUTT/Edel Records 2004)
32. ^ Lesbian Concentrate: A Lesbianthology of Songs and Poems (liner notes) (Olivia Records, 1977)
33. ^ The Dead Kennedys – In God We trust, Inc. (lyrics/liner notes) (Alternative Tentacles Records, 1981)
34. ^ Jimmy Buffett – Son of a Son of a Sailor (lyrics/liner notes) (ABC Records, 1978)
35. ^ Leon Russell – "Elvis & Marilyn"/"Anita Bryant" (Portrait Records, 1978)
36. ^ "#1.7". Soap. episode 7. season 1. Nov 1, 1977. ABC.
37. ^ Elton John, To Russia With Elton John (Liner notes). EU: Power Station. 2003.
• Anita Bryant Ministries International
• Image of Anita Bryant in the 1970s (available for public use from the State Archives of Florida)
• Belated curtain call, Tulsa World, 19 April 2007
• Readers Forum: Anita Bryant to star in Round-Up 2007, Tulsa World, 18 April 2007
• Celebration draws Anita Bryant back to Barnsdall, Tulsa World, 28 May 2005
Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture – Bryant, Anita