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Inviting Musicians to the White House

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Tin Pan Alley and the American musical theater were in a great state of verve and vitality in the period between the two world wars, and White House guests lists of the time reflected this. In 1924 President Coolidge invited legendary showman, Al Jolson to help him launch an election campaign at a White House pancake breakfast. After the breakfast, forty stars from stage and screen, including John Drew, the Dolly Sisters, Charlotte Greenwood and Ray Miller’s Jazz Band, staged impromptu entertainment on the White House lawns. Both first ladies, Florence Harding and Grace Coolidge, were especially interested in classical music. Mrs. Harding showed her encouragement of music in young people by inviting eleven-year-old concert pianist, Shura Cherkassy, to present a recital, and through the invitation of Grace Coolidge, Sergei Rachmaninoff played in the White House on three separate occasions.

Grace and Calvin Coolidge greet Hollywood stars at the White House in 1924.

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