What television kiss shocked, shook and scandalized the TV world more than any other kiss before or after? It’s a bit of a surprise to think that television viewing was so insulated as recently as 2012.
According to the New York Times, February 11, 2012, the kiss to which I refer was given by Sammy Davis Jr. to Archie Bunker on the Number One show at that time, “All in the Family.” The episode was shown on February 12, 1972. Archie Bunker played the part of a bigot, and was the main character. Visiting guest star, Sammy Davis Jr., the black singing sensation of jazz clubs who had many hit records to his credit, was the cause of the ruckus. Sammy Davis planted an unexpected kiss on Archie’s cheek, which caused a ripple down the spines of viewers, causing comments and discussion for weeks to come. (Youtube: February 12,1972; SAMMY DAVIS JR. AND ARCHIE BUNKER.)
And he was not the only one: Madonna, the 1970s pop star, kissed Brittany Spears, another younger pop star, at the MTV Award television show in 2003. It caused many shocked comments and much derision. It wasn’t common to see same-sex couples showing any physical expressions of feelings. This kiss was quite scandalous at the time of the show’s airing.
And finally, are any “Trekkies” out there? Do you remember the episode where Captain Kirk kissed Lieutenant Uhuru? The old southern saying, “I just wanted to get a rise out of you,” meaning I wanted to shock you” certainly did. That episode got “the rise” out of the 1968 television audience, even though Captain Kirk was supposedly compelled to kiss Lieutenant Uhuru by telekinetic aliens. No matter whose idea that kiss was, it was the first intergalactic kiss shown on television.
No matter how scandalous these kisses may have been at the time, interracial, same sex or intergalactic, the kiss was a definite attention getter.
Sometimes I wonder what will materialize as the top attention getter in this 21st century. Looking at the direction our society is heading, I don’t think I want to know!