Margaret Truman Dead at 83

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Principessa, Jan 29, 2008.

  1. Principessa

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    Mystery writer Truman, daughter of president, dies

    KANSAS CITY, Missouri (AP) -- Margaret Truman, the only child of former President Harry S. Truman who became a concert singer, actress, radio and TV personality and mystery writer, died Tuesday. She was 83.

    Truman, known as Margaret Truman Daniel in private life, died at a Chicago assisted living facility following a brief illness, according to a statement from the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum in Independence. She had been at the facility for the past several weeks and was on a respirator, the library said.
    Her father's succession to the presidency in 1945 thrust her into the national spotlight while a college junior.

    "I feel that I've lived several different lives and that was one of them," she said in 1980. "Some of it was fun, but most of it was not. It was a great view of history being made.
    "The only thing I ever missed about the White House was having a car and driver," she once said.

    Her singing career attracted the barbs of music critics -- even the embarrassment of having her father threaten one reviewer. But she found a fulfilling professional and personal life in New York City where she met her husband, journalist Clifton Daniel, who later became managing editor of The New York Times. They married in 1956.

    She published her first book, an autobiography titled "Souvenir," in 1956. She said it was "hard work" and told reporters: "One writing job is enough."

    But then she did a book on White House pets in 1969, and later more, one a biography of her father. The idea of doing a mystery called "Murder in the White House" came "out of nowhere," she said.

    That 1980 title was followed by mysteries set in the Supreme Court, the Smithsonian, Embassy Row, the FBI, Georgetown, the CIA, Kennedy Center, the National Cathedral and the Pentagon.

    By that time she was a grandmother and sang only in her church choir.

    "I've had three or four different careers," she told an interviewer in 1989. "I consider being a wife and mother a career. I have great respect for women -- both those who go out and do their thing and those who stay at home. I think those who stay at home have a lot more courage than those who go out and get a job."

    Mary Margaret Truman was born February 17, 1924, in Independence. She was the only child of Bess and Harry Truman, who was a county judge at the time.

    For a few years after her father was elected to the Senate in 1934, she split her school year between Independence and a private girls' school in Washington, D.C. She later attended George Washington University. She also had taken voice lessons, at the urging of a church choir leader. After graduation, she used the political limelight to launch her singing career.

    "I wanted to establish myself as an individual capable of standing on my merit, to experience the satisfaction of achievement," she explained.

    She made her professional singing debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1947 and gave her first Carnegie Hall concert two years later. Critics generally praised her poise but were less impressed with her vocal talent.

    When Washington Post critic Paul Hume wrote after a 1950 concert that she "is extremely attractive on the stage ... (but) cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time," her father fired off a note on White House stationery scolding Hume for a "lousy review."

    "I have never met you, but if I do you'll need a new nose and plenty of beefsteak and perhaps a supporter below," the president wrote.

    The note made Page One news -- but was not the sort of publicity an aspiring artist seeks. Years later she was able to laugh about it: "I thought it was funny. Sold tickets."

    She soon turned more to radio and television, where she made regular guest appearances with Jimmy Durante and Milton Berle.

    On radio, she was co-host, with Mike Wallace, of a daily talk show on the NBC network and had her own nationally syndicated interview program for eight years. She also worked with Fred Allen and Tallulah Bankhead.

    Her stage career began in 1954, about the time she quit the concert stage.

    "I learned my comedy timing from Fred Allen and Goody (Goodman) Ace," she recalled. "You couldn't do better than that. I'd still rather hear an audience laugh than do a serious play."

    Throughout her 20s, reporters were constantly asking about marriage prospects, but she said she was pursuing her career for the time being.

    When she met Clifton Daniel at a dinner party in 1955, he was working in New York after a decade as a foreign correspondent. It was not until a month before their wedding in April 1956 that their romance became public.

    "We had a lot in common," he wrote in a 1984 memoir. "We were the kind of people who wouldn't marry anybody our mothers wouldn't approve of: a couple of citified small-towners, puritans among the fleshpots."

    She and Daniel had four sons; he died in February 2000. Son William died in September 2000 when he was hit by a taxi; he was 41.

    She was honorary co-chair of the Harry S. Truman Library Institute, the nonprofit partner of her father's presidential library, and a governing board member of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute. Health issues had prevented her from visiting the library in recent years, but she remained actively interested in its operations, said Michael Devine, director of the library.
     
  2. kirbster

    kirbster Member

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    Sorry to hear this. I enjoyed her novels
     
  3. B_Italian1

    B_Italian1 New Member

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    She had an interesting life, but I thought she had already passed away. That's awful what happened to her son. Talk about bad timing.
     
  4. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Mrs. Daniel was an extremely intelligent, kind, and gracious woman with a sharp sense of humor. This last decline happened quite quickly and she'd been in the assisted living facility for less than a year so she didn't linger long. As someone very full of life, she would have hated that.

    If you're moved to offer a prayer, please give it for her grandchildren. Her sons were prepared for this but the grandkids weren't.
     
  5. Northland

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    Only a minor shocker, as I knew she was in her final days after talking with a mutual friend of ours just after New Year's. Still, I had hoped she'd make until Springtime. Sweet woman, will be sorely missed.

    When I returned from my meeting, I felt the need to return to the internet and there was the e-mail from the old Blockhead himself (I mean Larry) who clearly has too much time on his hands (now if he'd just shave that idiotic 'I support the Writers Guild' beard off). I wont go into details of his latest- I have trashcanned it anyway.


    and Jason_els, for the record, for someone who was a vital and lively as she had been, I can assure you, these last months were torturous to her. Not being able to freely manage on her own was a matter which gnawed away at her own sense of dignity and pride. I hadn't seen her for nearly 2 years now; however, I do recall the beauty and grace she still posessed even then, when she was past 80. That is a time when many persons are already hiding under the bedcovers waiting for death to come tapping at the door- she was looking forward to what wonderful things life would offer to her next. Less than a year, may on paper look like nothing; but, I must make clear that for those who value the enticements of life, it was not an easy transition for her to have had to make.


    Again, she was a sweet, gentle, kind and immensely talented woman who will be missed much more than mere words could ever express.
     
  6. B_Italian1

    B_Italian1 New Member

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    I wonder how many children of former presidents are still living?

    Caroline Kennedy
    The Nixon daughters
    Carter's children
    Reagan's children
    Bush Sr's children
    Chelsea Clinton
    Ford's children

    Any more?
     
  7. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    David Eisenhower.
     
  8. B_Italian1

    B_Italian1 New Member

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    Anyone else?
    I'll bet you know more about the U.S. than most of us who live here. :smile:
     
  9. Principessa

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    The current Pres' twins are still alive. If I'm not mistaken all these people are still entitled to a secret service detail.
     
  10. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    Well, FDR's kids and Hoover's kids are dead, so I think it's likely there's no one else.
    I probably know more than the average poster, but there are lots of posters who I realize have references readily at hand that I don't.
    The Amendments to the Constitution, for example ... I can't rattle them off; lots of people can.
    But it's easy for a Canadian to be interested in the U.S. because you are our elephant-sized neighbor and, God knows, you're fascinating people who, for better and for worse, don't know how to do things by half.
     
  11. D_Gunther Snotpole

    D_Gunther Snotpole Account Disabled

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    They're pickled, aren't they?:biggrin1:
    (j/k)
     
  12. B_Italian1

    B_Italian1 New Member

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    I know Jenna and Barbara are still alive, silly. Yes, they are all entitled to secret service, but many choose not to use it. Chelsea Clinton still uses it, maybe the Reagan children, but I don't think the Carters or Fords do. Caroline Kennedy probably does not. I remember one of President Ford's sons saying that the secret service were with him on dates, and it was so annoying having them around everywhere watching every move he made.
     
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