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Carol Channing and Ella Fitzgerald: The first women in a Super Bowl Halftime show

Rihanna will host the Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2023, but not many know who were the first to demonstrate women’s power on that stage.

One of the reasons why the NFL Super Bowl is one of the most watched live televised sporting events in the world is not only because of the passion of some fans for football but also because of its halftime shows that its protagonists have been responsible for making each of the presentations historical.

Such is the case of Rihanna, who announced that she will perform at the 2023 Halftime Show, and who will probably also make history since it will mark her return after many years away from the stage and music. But just like her, many other women have already demonstrated their power on this stage, such as Shakira, J.Lo, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, or even the iconic artists Carol Channing and Ella Fitzgerald, who, in fact, were the first women to offer a halftime show at the Super Bowl in the 70s, when the intermission was still given much weight to presentations of typical school bands that were uninformed while marching and playing a musical instrument.

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Carol Channing on the 1970 Halftime Show

On January 11, 1970, Super Bowl IV was held at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Halftime Show was a tribute to Mardi Gras, which is a carnival that precedes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. For the first time in the history of the sporting event, there was a musical presentation of a different style with Broadway and movie star Carol Channing and trumpeter Al Hirt.

Lionel Hampton also performed that evening with Al Hirt, but the artist’s show was undoubtedly historic, as she became the first woman to perform at a Super Bowl halftime show.

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Ella Fitzgerald on the 1972 Halftime Show

On January 16, 1972, Super Bowl VI was held and on this occasion, not only Carol Channing appeared again, but also jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, who is said to have performed with musician Al Hirt in the song “Mack the Knife.” Unfortunately, there are no records of this historic presentation.

Story originally published in Spanish in Cultura Colectiva

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