Anita Jane Bryant
Anita Jane Bryant
“Anita Bryant is the greatest thing that ever happened to our annual Christmas tours for the USO. Whenever I need a break, all I have to do is say, ‘Take over, Anita,’ and she gets out there and entertains for 45 minutes or more. The audiences never seem to get enough.”
Though her family lived in Oklahoma City, Anita Jane Bryant was actually born in her grandparent’s home in Barnsdall, Oklahoma. She attended elementary schools in Seminole, Velma-Alma, and Midwest City before graduating from Will Rogers High School in Tulsa. She gave her first operetta performance at the age of 7 in the first grade at Seminole and later won the Gismo Goodkin Talent Show on WKY-TV and began singing pop and western songs on the Scotty Harrel Show. Anita took over the show, a half-hour program on Friday nights, when she was only 12 years old. She moved with her family to Tulsa a short time later and began regular appearances on Tulsa’s KOTV. Anita’s big break came in 1958 when she was named Miss Tulsa and then Miss Oklahoma. She was the first runner-up in the Miss America Pageant and began appearing on numerous television programs and made annual USO tours with Bob Hope. 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 opening that 'A day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine'. She was widely recognized in ads 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.
Anita Bryant began her singing career before the age of four in her grandparent’s church at Tishomingo, Oklahoma and made her television debut only six years later on WKY-TV’s Scotty Harrel Show, which later became the Anita Bryant Show – she was only 12 years old. In 1979, she was among Good Housekeeping Magazine’s 10 Most Admired Women in the World.
Bryant was born in Barnsdall, Oklahoma.