WATCH: John Wayne 1970 Variety Show Celebrates America’s History On July 4th

Patriotic and poignant journey through American history on Fourth of July

WATCH: On July 4th, 1970, John Wayne hosted a variety show celebrating America’s history. it was Wayne’s first television special, originally aired as Swing Out, Sweet Land on NBC-TV in 1970, is a patriotic and poignant journey through American history – with music, comedy and many famous friends. As host and narrator, Wayne walks through pivotal moments in America’s past.

Some of the era’s biggest entertainers appeared in the special, playing either famous American figures or minor characters at pivotal moments in American history. Lucille Ball, for example, voiced the Statue of Liberty, while William Shatner played John Adams to Hugh O’Brien’s Thomas Jefferson. Jack Benny played a man asking Lorne Greene’s George Washington about the mythical silver dollar he threw across the Potomac.

Meanwhile, famous TV and radio entertainer Red Skelton, played a newspaper printer, celebrating the First Amendment with his assistant Tom Smothers. Other notable figures joined the cast, like Dean Martin as Eli Whitney, Bing Crosby as Mark Twain, and Michael Landon as Peter Minuit. Dennis Weaver was Tom Lincoln, while Dan Blocker played the Native American man that sold Manhattan. Oh — and who could forget Phyllis Diller, who blew everyone’s minds by playing a woman who ran for president. (The idea!)

In other skits, entertainers played themselves, sometimes dropped into the past –Bob Hope and Ann-Margret entertained the troops at Valley Forge, for instance. Musicians Johnny Cash, Roy Clark, and Glen Campbell all performed songs as themselves, as did Leslie Uggams.

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