Birth Date: March 25, 1940 / Age: 77
Birth Place: Barnsdall, Oklahoma, USA
Biography: Anita Bryant (born March 25, 1940) was an American singer who made a series of television commercials for Florida orange juice. A member of the Southern Baptist church, she is remembered for campaigning to repeal a local ordinance in Miami that guaranteed civil rights regardless of sexual orientation.
Singing from the age of two, she became Miss Oklahoma in 1958 and was a 2nd runner-up in the 1959 Miss America beauty pageant. She had three million-selling pop hits: "'Til There Was You" (1959); "Paper Roses" (1960); and, "My Little Corner of the World" (1960). In 1960, she married Bob Green, a Miami disc jockey, with whom she eventually raised four children. She became a spokeswoman for the Florida Citrus Commission in 1969, and nationally televised commercials featured her singing "Come to the Florida Sunshine tree", and opining that "Breakfast without orange juice is like a day without sunshine". She became widely recognizable, doing advertisements for Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Holiday Inn, and Tupperware. She sang "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" during the graveside services for Lyndon Johnson in 1973, and performed the National Anthem at Super Bowl III in 1969: in short, prior to her excursion into politics, she had a lucrative, thriving career and a seemingly happy marriage.
In 1977, Florida's Dade County (now Miami-Dade County) passed a human-rights ordinance that provided that rights could not be abridged on the basis of sexuality. Believing that homosexuality was evil, Bryant conducted a campaign to repeal the ordinance. Among Bryant's assertions were "If gays are granted rights, next we'll have to give rights to prostitutes and to people who sleep with St. Bernards and to nailbiters." On June 7, 1977, Bryant's campaign, trading on fears of homosexual "recruitment" and child molestation, and calling itself "Save Our Children", resulted in a repeal of the county's Civil Rights Ordinance by an overwhelming margin of 69% to 31%.
The following day, Bryant stated, "In victory, we shall not be vindictive. We shall continue to seek help and change for homosexuals, whose sick and sad values belie the word 'gay' which they pathetically use to cover their unhappy lives."
In the aftermath, legislation was passed outlawing adoption by gay persons in Florida.
Dade County later reversed Bryant's influence in 1998 by passing an anti-bias ordinance. The drastic effects that Bryant had once predicted would follow the passage of an anti-discrimination law for gays never came to pass. The statute forbidding adoptions by gay persons in Florida, however, remains law.
Anita Bryant's political success galvanized her opponents. She became one of the first persons to be "pied" (in Des Moines in 1977) as a political act. Gay activists organized a juice boycott, some enclosing two dollar bills and requesting a copy of a nonexistent pamphlet linking orange juice with homosexuality.
The fallout from her political activism had a devastating effect on her career, and her marriage failed. She divorced Bob Green in 1980, and her mainstay audience, conservative Christians, abandoned her because of their distaste for divorce. Her contract with the Florida Citrus Commission also was allowed to lapse because of the divorce.
She married her second husband, Charlie Hobson Dry, in 1990, and they have tried to reestablish her career in a series of small venues. Commercial success has been elusive, and they have left behind them a series of unpaid employees and creditors. They filed for bankruptcy in Arkansas (1997) and in Tennessee (2001).