A popular singer of the '60s, Anita Bryant has been known as a beauty queen, a singer, a Florida citrus spokeswoman, and later an advocate against homosexuality. Her hits, which made both the British and American charts, include "'Till There Was You," "Paper Roses" and "In My Little Corner of the World."
Born in Oklahoma, Bryant's musical career began at a very early age. She first performed on stage at the age of six, and three years later she won her first talent show. It was after this victory that she won a spot on Arthur Godfrey's talent show on television. From there her musical career blossomed, and the singer -- known as Oklahoma's "Red Feather Girl" -- made her recording debut in 1956 with the single "Sinful to Flirt."
In 1958, she was crowned Miss Oklahoma and moved on to the Miss America pageant, where she came in third thanks to her musical talents. "'Till There Was You" from The Music Man was Anita Bryant's first chart-topping hit in 1959. She released three albums on the Carlton label (Anita Bryant, In Your Home Tonight and In My Little Corner of the World), and hit number one again in 1960 with Bert Kaempfert's "Wonderland of Night." (Marie Osmond later recorded another of Bryant's songs, "In My Little Corner of the World," for her own hit.)
In 1962, Anita Bryant switched to Columbia and recorded a series of inspirational titles as well as standard pop albums. During the '70s, she recorded several albums for the religious label Wood, though the transition never lacked the boisterous singing style that had already been associated with her.
In the '80s and '90s, Anita Bryant's interests again changed. Although she still enjoyed singing and performing, she became an advocate against homosexuality and began working as a motivational speaker. She continued to sing in numerous performances throughout the season at The Anita Bryant Theater in Branson, MO, and later at her own theater in Pigeon Fork, TN. ~ Kim Summers