"Birth of Vice President Burt
Lancaster" by Steve Payne
says: what if Eugene McCarthy won in '72? Please note that the opinions
expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
November 2nd 1913,
on this day the fortieth Vice President of the United States Burt
Lancaster was born at his parents' home on 209 East 106th Street, New York
As a performer with USO during World War II, he not only launched a career
in acting but also developed a profound anti-war conviction. Ironically,
his most famous acting role would be 1st Sgt. Milton Warden in the 1953
blockbuster "From Here to Eternity", based on the events leading up to the
attack on Pearl Harbour. Although he could hardly have imagined it at the
time, the movie would not be his last association with America's armed
conflicts in the Far East.
Later in the decade, he won praise for his willingness to play roles that
went against his initial "tough guy" image. Initially dismissed as "Mr
Muscles and Teeth", in the late 1950s Lancaster abandoned his
"all-American" image and gradually came to be regarded as one of the best
actors of his generation.
"According to George MacDonald Fraser, Lancaster
was one stubborn dude---he'd have not been happy with the subservient role
of VP" - reader's commentAnd yet changes in America would radically
change the direction of his career. An opponent of McCarthyism and the
Vietnam War, Lancaster would become a vocal supporter of liberal political
causes, regularly speaking out with support for racial minorities.
Ironically the 1964 movie "Seven Days in May" presented a dystopian vision
of many of these changes which would be explored by his masterful
portrayal of James Mattoon Scott, the General attempting to overtthrow an
anti-war President and seize the White House. Four years later, Lancaster
actively supported the presidential candidacy of antiwar Senator Eugene
McCarthy of Minnesota, and frequently spoke on his behalf in the
Then again, LBJ was no marshmallow either" -
reader's commentEven though Richard Nixon prevailed against Hubert
Humphrey in that general election, a combination of improbable events
between 1968 to 1972 propelled the Senator into the White House.
- Third Party Candidate George Wallace survived an assassination
attempt to split the right-wing vote
- The economy entered a sharp down-turn
- Poor health prevented Humphrey from undermining McCarthy as the
candidate of acid, amnesty and abortion
- McCarthy matured as a candidate, taking policy more seriously and
offering an intelligent critique of Nixon's foreign policy particularly
And perhaps the more seasoned Eugene McCarthy recognised the value of
the softly spoken, but steely personae of Burt Lancaster, the man he chose
to serve as his Vice President.
says to view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the
Today in Alternate History web site.
Steve Payne, Editor of
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