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Yetta Bronstein For President

Culture | April 26, 2022

Source: (Pinterest).

There are things people may not know about the 1964 presidential election. Yes, it’s true that the two main candidates in the election were Lyndon Johnson and the Arizona Republican Senator Barry Goldwater. There was, however, another candidate most people have never heard of: Mrs. Yetta Bronstein.

Mrs. Bronstein was a Jewish housewife from the Bronx. Although she lost in 1964, she ran a second time and in 1968, and also ran for a seat in Britain’s Parliament and for mayor of New York. She also wrote a book called The President I Almost Was by Yetta Bronstein while preparing for her second run for President. One other thing to know about Mrs. Bronstein: she was completely fictional.  

Source: (Pinterest).

She Was A Creation Of Alan And Jeanne Abel

Mrs. Bronstein was the creation of Alan and Jeanne Abel, a husband-and-wife team of pranksters. Over his career, Alan Abel has been a writer, lecturer, actor, filmmaker, jazz musician, and comedian. Together with his wife, he produced two feature films. And the two of them came up with Mrs. Bronstein while they were doing a nightclub act. Once they created her, they decided she should run for president, and so they registered her as a write-in candidate. Her party affiliation? The Best Party. She, of course, had a particular platform, which included national bingo and lowering the voting age to 18 (the 26th Amendment was not ratified until 1971). Mrs. Bronstein’s argument was that lowering the voting age would give juvenile delinquents something to do. She also wanted to put a truth serum in the Senate drinking fountain, and she wanted a “mental detector” to be installed along with the metal detector. 

Siource: (WBEZ).

She Thought Congress Should Work On Commission

Part of Yetta Bronstein’s platform included taking Congress off salary and making them work on commission. Bronstein was pro-gun, but with a caveat: the speed of bullets needed to be reduced by 95 percent. Her campaign slogans were “A Mink Coat in Every Closet” and “If you want simple solutions, then you gotta be simple.” She did have a simple solution when asked about her cabinet. She replied, “I’ll have one.” Yetta also promised voters 16 ounces in every pound and offered free hot dogs and bagels in exchange for votes. 

Source: (Pinterest).

She Refused To Grant Television Interviews

Jeanne Abel, who was in her 20s at the time, posed as Yetta, but because Yetta was supposedly a middle-aged wife of a New York City cabbie, Jeanne Abel would only grant radio interviews. To complete the Yetta Bronstein ruse, Alan Abel acted as Yetta’s campaign manager and used a picture of his Jewish mother on the election materials.

They even gathered some followers in 1964 to travel to the national Democratic convention in New Jersey. Approximately 20 people made the trip and marched with them, carrying signs that read “Vote for Yetta” and “Things Will Get Betta.” Yetta also wrote to President Johnson to tell him that she would end her campaign if he was willing to name her as his running mate. He, obviously, did not accept her offer. 

One of their other pranks. Source: (Amazon).

Their Pranks Didn't Stop With Yetta Bronstein

Over the years, the Abels pulled off other pranks as well. Alan also faked his own death, which led the New York Times to run an obituary. Two days later, for the first time ever, they had to run a retraction for an obituary. The retraction read “An obituary in The New York Times on Wednesday reported incorrectly that Alan Abel was dead. Mr. Abel held a news conference yesterday…” One of these other pranks, the Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (SINA), was created in 1958 as a satirical commentary on censorship. SINA wanted people to put pants on animals, for, as their slogan said, “A nude horse is a rude horse.” The Abels picketed together and traveled to the White House to plead with the Kennedys to clothe their horse. Alan hired his friend, Buck Henry, to be G, Clifford Prout, the organization’s president and they made television and radio appearances to promote their cause. They managed to dupe The Tonight Show, The Today Show, and even CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Five years after the “organization” got its start, Time Magazine exposed the truth about it. Alan, who has said his goal is to “give people a kick in the intellect,” was honored in Time Life’s Century of Change in 2000. 

Tags: Comedy | presidential race

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Linda Speckhals

Writer

When she’s not out walking her dog, or taking in a baseball game, Linda loves learning about history, science, and philosophy. She will travel wherever the wind may blow, and happily loses herself in a book, whenever she can. At heart, she is a music loving tree-hugger.