Cheers for an Early Feminist

I was young when the feminist movement started, and didn’t really understand it at the beginning. And between being raised Catholic in and Italian family, feminism was really discouraged. So when a woman demonstrated power with grace, I noticed. One of those women was Stella Alberts.

Earlier today I attended the opening of the Al Alberts Showcase Exhibit. Most of us probably wouldn’t readily know Al Alberts or the vocal group he founded, The Four Aces. But back in the 1950’s, they were the really hot guy group. They had some pretty big hits, including theme songs for the blockbuster movies Three Coins in a Fountain and Love is a Many-Splendored Thing. In my partying-down-the-shore days, Alberts rendition of the corny “On the Way to Cape May” signaled the beginning of weekend partying for my group of twenty-somethings at our the summer rental – and I can still get a kick out of singing it.

In 1968 Al and Stella Alberts started a local weekly talent show for children – think a cute American Idol with only Paula-style comments. Before cable, when television had only three or four channels, Sunday morning TV had only a few shows: news, religion…and Al Alberts Showcase. It aired for over thirty years with at the helm.

At a time in our history when women took a back seat everywhere, and when all their accomplishments were minimized, Stella Alberts stood out. As the producer of the show, Stella worked the stage, the off-stage, advertising, and managed everything else. The couple had quite a partnership, and it wasn’t like many of their day where he had the spotlight and she played second fiddle. No, Stella was on camera too and Al acknowledged her contributions. After the show went off the air, Stella co-hosted a weekly radio chat show with Al that originated from their Florida home. Stella and Al were married over fifty years; Al Alberts passed away in 2009.

Only really knowing my parents and their more traditional-style marriage, I can still recall how odd it felt to see a man and woman sharing the stage in equal partnership. As I think back on it now, I wonder how much that affected the way I see marriage partnerships today. It’s something I’ve been thinking about as I work on finishing my next book, The Five Year Marriage. Stay tuned.

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Founded by Annmarie Kelly, the Victorious Woman Project is a female empowerment resource containing articles, classes, books, podcasts and other tools for women over 40.