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For Performers, The Show Must Always Go On

Stop The Presses!

In what's certain to be one of the most dramatic renditions of the Star Spangled Banner ever heard at a national sporting event, the National Football League confirmed today that Jennifer Hudson is going to sing the National Anthem before the start of this year's Super Bowl in Tampa Florida on February 1.

Hudson's performance will mark her first public appearance since October, when the 27-year-old, Academy Award-winning performer's mother, brother and nephew were all killed in Chicago--a triple murder that Hudson's sister's estranged husband has been charged with committing.

Dealing with personal losses are, of course, a very real part of life for everyone. But having a spotlight shining brightly on an entertainer soon after enduring a private tragedy of the magnitude of Hudson's is a rather rare occurrence. Unfortunately, it does happen every now and then.

One of the most famous post-tragedy musical appearances--and while it came about because of an accident rather than a crime, the one most comparable to Hudson's in terms of the magnitude of the event marking the public return of a major performer after a devastating loss--was that of Reba McEntire at the 1991 Oscars. On March 16 that year, following a concert in San Diego, a private plane carrying seven members of the country singer's backing band and McEntire's road manager crashed into the side of a mountain near the Mexican border, killing all on board. McEntire originally was going to be on the plane, too, but was suffering from bronchitis, and had been talked by her husband into staying behind to try and get a proper night's sleep.

McEntire immediately cancelled her upcoming concert dates, but on March 25, less than ten days after the terrible tragedy, she made good on her prescheduled appearance at the Academy Awards, where she  performed the Oscar-nominated song "Checkin' Out," from the Meryl Streep film Postcards From The Edge.

Because of the circumstances, Streep, who'd actually performed the song in the film, reportedly offered to sing it herself, but McEntire decided to honor her fallen friends' memories by doing the show--and with a worldwide audience watching.

Still, perhaps the most famous--and undoubtedly the saddest--case of an entertainer overcoming a tragedy in public happened back in November 1943 to comedian Lou Costello. Following a long illness that had kept him out of radio and film work for a year, Costello was ready to make his comeback on his popular nationally-aired radio show with partner Bud Abbott when, just hours before the broadcast, his one-year-old son drowned in the family's swimming pool. Instead of canceling, Costello performed the entire show. The moment the show signed off, he broke down in tears, while a shaken Abbott explained to the stunned studio audience what had happened to Costello earlier that day.

If ever the term "The Show Must Go On" was defined, that surely was it.

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