Who's That With John Lindsay?

Felt Forum Theater

Madison Square Garden

New York

October 11, 1969

Lindsay poster

John Lindsay, the mayor of New York city, was running for his second term in 1969. On Saturday, October 11th, celebrities who backed the Mayor participated in a $150-a-ticket gala at the Felt Forum at Madison Square Garden. Sarah H. Goddard, in charge of ticket sales for the event, told The New York Times that “somewhere between half and three-quarters of the 3,850 seats were sold” for the event, which was characterized as “the main fund-raising event of the campaign.”

The last two hours of the show (including Streisand's three songs) was televised on New York's Channel 7.

The headlining celebrities who were referenced in the show's title (Who's That With John Lindsay ... Alan, Barbra, Frank, and Harry) were: Alan King, Streisand, Frank Sinatra, and Harry Belafonte.

“There was Frank Sinatra and Judy Collins (guitar and all), and Ethel Merman and Harry Belafonte and Barbra Streisand, Helen Hayes, Robert Ryan, Sidney Poitier, and of course the new graduate, Dustin Hoffman,” wrote Victor Riesel for the Las Vegas Sun (referencing Hoffman's big movie hit, The Graduate.)

Other celebrities who participated that evening were Woody Allen, Alan Arkin, Leonard Bernstein, Julie Harris, James Earl Jones, Jerry Orbach, Robert Redford, George Segal and Eli Wallach.

Why support Lindsay? Belafonte told The New York Times, “He's the only one who has shown a sensitivity and understanding of the complex problems facing all people, both the minorities and the Establishment.”

Merv Griffin, who hosted the evening, told the Times, “John Lindsay is a committed man, plus he has imagination, vitality and national stature.”

Streisand offered a more jovial reason for supporting Lindsay: “He's good-looking,” she told the Times.

Streisand looks out into the audience

Below: A photo of Lindsay in reelection car, holding this magazine with Streisand on the cover.

Lindsay in car reading Streisand magazine

Introduced as a “Super Superstar” by Merv Griffin, Barbra sang a great version of “Don't Rain On My Parade,” which segu├ęd into “People.” Barbra dedicated her next song to Mayor Lindsay and his “concern for air pollution” ... then giggled as she began to sing “On A Clear Day.”

Lindsay — a Republican when he was elected in 1965 — ran on the Liberal Party ticket in 1969. He managed to defeat the Democratic candidate, New York City Comptroller Mario Procaccino, and the Republican candidate, state senator John Marchi. Lindsay received 42.36% of the vote to Procaccino's 34.79%.

Streisand, a lifelong Democrat, said in a 1998 chat on America Online, “I even helped Republican Mayor John Lindsay because I liked his politics.”

Scaasi dress

The dress was auctioned by Streisand in 2004 and sold for $1,440. Scaasi himself must have bid for the dress; it is now located at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, which acquired Scaasi's archive in 2010.

The dress and matching pillbox hat that Streisand wore at this performance were designed for Barbra by Arnold Scaasi. At this time in Barbra's career, Scaasi was dressing her for public appearances and performances. For instance, he designed the gowns she wore three months earlier at her International Hotel shows. Scaasi wrote in his memoir, “One [design] in particular that I loved was a long silk crepe dress in a navy blue — yellow-and-white art deco print that I had embroidered in flat one-inch squares of navy sequins with tiny rhinestones outlining the pattern. It was cut sort of high-waisted with a seam that had two points going under the bust line and then dipping low to the natural waist in back.”

Streisand relaxes after her performance for John Lindsay

Below is a home recording of Streisand's segment, which was recorded from the television set when the gala was televised.


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