About

Welcome. Here, beneath one banner lay many diversions.

.

SAM PLAINPerhaps more than any other aspect of my work as an author, journalist and screenwriter on the vast array of American Culture, I derive the greatest satisfaction in retrieving the lost piece of an unfinished tale, rewarding rightful credit to an ignored hero or restoring facts to balance a biased account.

It has, over time, become a passion of assembling these discoveries into accurate yet dramatically compelling story-lines which may enlighten and inform others about their own lives while entertaining their imaginations.

By nature, I’ve always sought to assess both the symbolic and realized words and deeds of the American Presidents and First Ladies with a perspective on them as human beings.

Their political and cultural impact as Persona can so often be rooted in their experiences as Person. The majority of content here is drawn from that arena.

Dominating Pop Culture for over half the country’s history, Presidents and First Ladies also prove to be windows into an array of other topics: mass media, holidays, advertising, marketing, technology, food, the entertainment industry, racial issues, architecture, symbolism, and most importantly, Self-Identity.

Much of what you will therefor find here are stories on Presidents and First Ladies fused with Pop Culture (how greens Teddy Roosevelt ate, for example, influenced his national policy; how Eleanor Roosevelt helped popularize margarine or Mamie Eisenhower helped popularize the modern American Birthday Party for adults).

It’s a hybrid genre that can perhaps best be categorized as “Presidential Pop.”

Through the Presidents and First Ladies, I’ve discovered the full array of prominent Americans from widely diverse backgrounds who’ve left a legacy of their accomplishments – and their examples of overcoming adversity to make their unique perspective part of the national story.

What marks all of them, regardless of age,  profession, religious or ethnic identity, or regionality is a singular commitment to their Individuality.

Whether in pursuit of a conventional goal, the manifestation of their unique vision (be it engineering or dance), or employing a specific gut instinct to retool an old system, these individuals are often unheralded heroes because they are viewed as only being significant symbols or representatives only to the demographic they’ve been identified as belonging to.

The truth is, their stories of pursuit and achievement are relevant and useful to everyone. Look beyond the most popular gadget that’s marketed to everyone or the latest trend or opinion poll and, I believe, you will find that the desire to follow one’s uniquely Individual vision is far more common than not. It’s a theme I intend to pursue here, through biographical sketches of people like this.

You will also find here Pop Culture stories which stand apart from Presidents and First Ladies that underline those contradictions, perplexities and progressions of human nature that are timeless.

irony and paradox abound

Irony, paradox and myth mark our E Pluribus Unum society, from the New Amsterdam Dutch being victims of bigotry, to ogling Dallas Cowgirls while petitioning for chaste school uniforms, to the ingenious fib of Betsy Ross making the first flag, to the technically illegal act of serving original recipe Key Lime Pie.

 Attempting to capture that irreverence might help maintain a lighter spirit here.  Along the way, I hope that an overt appreciation for what is still the national nature to nurture individualism will poke through.

And this theme so often returns to Presidential Pop.

Rarely have a group of men and women who were first and foremost human beings been distorted, beatified, denigrated, idolized and hated for all the wrong reasons. And yet so many myths about so many Presidents and First Ladies prove resistant to the facts because these tales ultimately serve a far greater purpose than the reality of who these people were as human beings.

Taft did not get stuck in a White House bathtub. Harding was not poisoned by his wife. Reagan did not decide that ketchup should qualify as a vegetable for school lunches. Andrew Johnson was not a drunkard.

And that one about George Washington chopping down the cherry tree which we were all later told was not true?

There’s some suggestion, at least in recent findings in an article here, which suggests he may very well have!

As John F. Kennedy once aptly observed, “Emotions move people more than facts.”

I hope some of this also illustrates that History isn’t irrelevant trivia but accidental and intentional choices affecting us today, made by both the famous and the unknown, all with talents and flaws. That might help us make wise choices in our own stories.

As a political Independent influenced by Mark Twain, Voltaire, Washington Irving, William Makepeace Thackeray, Mae West (as a novelist who brilliantly observed the vagaries of human nature), and Gore Vidal, some might respond to my blog as does my iPod to my music choices, declaring it “unclassifiable.”

 That said, I’m reminded of a primal truth learned from my old dog, now gone: how others label us is often arbitrary, even irrelevant to how we define ourselves.

Page around. If the stories are of interest, do subscribe.

.


54 replies »

  1. I’m surprised it’s taken me this long to find you on the web, Mr. Anthony. I have enjoyed your writing on
    our Presidents and First Families for many years. I am very grateful for the excellent oral history you put
    out on Jacqueline Kennedy-Onassis; sadly we do not have many 1st person memoirs or narratives about her. Much has been written, but very few of the people who know her best, wrote memoirs or said too much. I also have your book on Florence Harding, waiting to be read.

    You have really done some amazing work in researching the “human” side of our WH I have a collection of books dealing with the personal lives of American Presidents and First Ladies, as well as WH triva. I have struggled to find a name for this modest collection, I do agree with you that “pop culture” does factor in a great deal. I simply refer to my books as “Presidential Mondo”.

    Looking forward to exploring your web site, and of course, reading more of your books!

    • Wow – what a nice lift your message gave me – and thank you I greatly appreciate it. It is a massive universe this subject of the Presidents and First Ladies and such a window into so many aspects of American culture and civilization, a real reflection of the perpetually shifting face of the nation. Sorry for the delay in responding.

  2. Carl:
    I would like to talk with you about a story I am writing regarding First Ladies.
    We have spoken in the past, when I was still working at the NY Times. I retired 3 years ago..
    I hope to hear from you, by email and I hopey ou will send me your phone number so I can all you.
    Thank you,
    Marian Burros

  3. that was a very touching piece on Betty Ford for Salon online. i also enjoyed the one on this site.
    left, right or center, honest people of good conscience like Betty Ford are too rare these days.
    i have subscribed.
    thanks,
    Trip

  4. Elegant and informative article on Betty Ford on salon.com, Carl. It perplexes and even saddens me to see how often people in public positions get pumped up at adulated, and/or vilified. Though I enjoyed your article in entirety, the line that lingers is the one about making lasagna. Thanks for presenting a thoughtful and humanizing portrait of a graceful and courageous woman.

    • Thanks for your comment – and I agree with your observation. I do think of course the media shapes the narrative of every story so perhaps that building and tearing down serves the purpose of a more sensational published or broadcasted piece which increases revenue, more than it does serve the interest of the public by giving us a fuller and less loaded presentation of facts.

  5. Excellent commentary on Betty Ford on MSNBC

  6. Carl,

    I have been a fan of your writing for many years and have read most (if not all) of your books. I only discovered that you had a website last week when I was looking for news on Betty Ford’s death.

    I very much enjoyed the piece on Mrs. Ford and the great pictures you selected to go with it. She had been one of my favorite public figures. How privledged you were to be able to know her,

    I also enjoyed reading the stories about your dog. Although I do not have a dog of my own, I can relate somewhat in that I am very close to my mother’s dog Rocco. Mom got him after my dad died in Sept. 05. He was recued from the New Orlean’s area after Hurricane Katrina and brought to the Pittsburgh area where she adopted him. He was found abandonded in a home in St. Bernard Parish. They believe he was on his own for perhaps 4 weeks. He is believed to be a Sheperd mix and was thought to be about 1-2 years old when he was rescued. He is a wonderful dog. He is mom’s protector and my best buddy.

    Thanks for all of the great work you have done over the years and good luck with the website and all of your future projects. I am looking forward to them.

    Sincerely,

    Jon Castelli
    Harrisburg, PA

  7. Hey, watched your video on Yeager. What a tribute to a great friend. I take my weim to work every day, and I know what wonderful friends they are. Sorry for your loss.

    • You can’t even begin to know how much I appreciate that – thanks. As you saw in the video, I worked almost every day alongside Yeager. I figure I spent an average of 19 out of every 24 hours a day for ten years in his presence. There is something about the eyes of weims and their intense sensitivity to every move we make that draws us in. I never lost my fascination with him – always studying and observing him – as he studied and observed. I can accept the reality that every living being dies and because of the care I gave him I have zero regrets and zero guilt, but the absence of his energy and wisdom is deafening.

  8. Mr. Anthony,
    I have your books about Mrs Kennedy,I enjoyed thwm very much.Mes. Kennedy was a very special person. You met her didn’t you? How did you go about getting her autograph? I wish I could have met her.- She accomplished so much with elegence. She has been an inspiration to me. I wrote to her in 1994 and told her so,but I don’t know if she read it. But I recieved a thank you note from her children.
    Thanks for your books

    • Thanks – always nice to know people have read what one’s written, especially in book-length form. I did meet her – in one of the blog stories here, there’s a picture showing her with me nearby one of those times. When we first met she told me about President Kennedy’s collection of presidential letters and autographs – and I mentioned my own collection of autograph signatures of presidents and their wives and that I didn’t then have one of her’s – and she pulled out an envelope from her bag and signed it for me. After that we corresponded and she edited some material I wrote.

  9. Great post, spotted you on google and content I came. Keep up the good work!

  10. Carl,
    Missed this post, but just read your current post on Hillary Clinton’s mother. I’m reading Gore Vidal’s “last” memoir – Point to Point Navigation and just did a search to see if you had written about him. 50 years ago I played the “visitor” in a summer stock production of his A Visit to a Small Planet; that, first brought him to my attention.
    In the images you have chosen that features cheerleaders and – Are those Three Mile Island nuclear towers? Anyway, the little photo of white church and barn is of Waits River, Vermont. My first three years of school were in the one-room school to which I walked, in all seasons and weather and, it was up-hill in both directions!
    Did you want to talk to me?
    Tomorrow, I’m John Quincy Adams in “A Spirit Unconquerable!” for the DAR.
    Somebody’s got to do it!
    JimCooke

    • Wow….what a random coincidence that you spotted the Walts River church steeple. Good eye. The cheerleaders and nuclear power plants intended as a visual of the range of “American Culture,” in all its irony, contradiction and paradox. Will be in touch on interview – for part of a larger piece I’m still gathering conceptual might on…with your work as the lead…..more to come….

  11. Carl, it is a privilege to read a writer that, rather than incite a sense of entitled intrusion, guides readers through the richness of lives,

    The depth and scope of your skill to invoke respect for your subjects by transcending ideologies, is a genre that we could all use more of in these obtrusively ‘critical’ times.

    To be trustworthy of such intimate access to First Ladies, their mothers and Yeager – and stay true even after they’re gone – is good enough for me to spread the word. Thank you.

  12. Mrs. Nixon got so little credit during her life time. Mr. Anthony you truly did an act of justice by profiling her so. During her lifetime, she, unlike several other recent First Ladies, did not receive a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Wouldn’t it be great if she were posthumously awarded this during her centenary. Certainly, it would be great to see her terrific daughters receive it for her after all these years.

    Being a little presumptuous here, but, if the idea appeals to you, might you give it a llittle push.

    At the least, the Panda Exhibit at the DC Zoo should bear her name. And, if Nixon is the presidential moniker that dare not speak its name, how about the “Pat Ryan Panda Exhibit”? Best.

    • Great idea – but I hardly have time to keep earning no money keeping this website going, let alone start a national movement. I would think that getting a consortium of members of Congress from each of the districts where she lived – Nevada, California, New York, New Jersey, Iowa (just off the top of my head of the many places she lived throughout her life) might be a start to either get the congressional medal idea going – or to have them petition the Smithsonian director of the National Zoo to rename the Panda House – it is really there due to her.

      • I completely understand. It is very generous of you to produce this wonderful and unique blog.

        Actually, as far back as the first Bush administration, I’ve written to the WH with this suggestion. I’ve received boiler plate responses. For something like this to come about, there would have to be a truly interested person in a fairly high poilitical position to push it. But if the arc of history truly bends towards justice, who knows…

        • Yes – congressional action; rarely will any executive branch official initiate that sort of thing and technically i think it must come from Congress. As far as the Panda house being renamed, I think that should be relatively easy – it is a matter of National Zoo officials proposing it to higher-ups at the Smithsonian,

    • Agree with you 100% – Mrs. Nixon deserves a lot more – she was really an unsung heroine!

  13. Carl,
    I don’t know if you remember me, but we hung out together in freshman year at UB. I lived in Porter with Laurie Birkenfeld and Mary Green. We nicknamed you “President Carl”. You were an amazing young man back then, and I knew you’d be famous some day. I’m so happy to read about all that you have accomplished in your life. I always enjoyed hearing your stories about the first ladies; you had a way of making them so interesting and accessible to us non-historians. I have subscribed to your website and am looking forward to reading your past and upcoming posts. BTW, the reason I googled you today was that I saw a post on fb saying it was National Ice Cream Day. It reminded me of the story you told us about Dolly Madison bringing ice cream to the US. Thanks,
    Kathy Coles Bukaty

    • I can’t believe I’m going ahead and publishing your comment – I usually don’t with personal comments and I feel awkward in that I feel like I have hardly begun to accomplish everything on my list, but then again “work” is “passion” – I’ve said more than enough. Anyway, National Ice Cream Day!? I’ve never heard of that – and yes, what a missed opportunity to get into that story with Dolley Madison and the reputation she earned )not entirely deservedly, it turns out – Jefferson deserves some of the credit – if not most of it. Sorry Dolley). I appreciate your remembering me and equally appreciate your writing and subscribing to the website! Thank you very much Kathy.

  14. Mr. Anthony,

    I have always enjoyed your work -but I want to respectfully indicate there are some mistakes in your Hyannisport commentaries.

    John and Jacqueline in 1962 rented the Morton Downey house on Squaw Island. In 1963, they rented the Thun residence at the tip of Squaw Island.

    Jackie did go to the Cape while Onassis was alive – usually for brief stays in August and for the tragedy with Ted on Martha’s Vineyard. After Onassis death, she summered in Hyannisport until 1980 or 1981 when the Red Gate Farm house was completed. She did return to Hyannisport for family occasions like weddings.

    If you read the account of a friend of JFK Jr., Billy Noonan, it details some of the Onassis and post Onassis times.

    I hope you can verify this info and then erase my comments. Respectfully, Joe Palmer

    • Thanks for the corrections, but it is still very confusing – I’ve received much conflicting information and would like to settle it precisely. My understanding is that “Squaw Island” is not actually an island – is that true? Also, I am assuming that the Thun residence, which you refer to, was also usually rented or was it later owned by Teddy and Joan Kennedy? Many books make reference to a “Teddy Kennedy and family” home on Squaw Island. I have many, many more photographs of the Presidential family during their summer residency but do not have time to add them with proper captioning. Perhaps this will clear it up. Yes, I believe my text concurs with the fact that she did return to Hyannis during her marriage to Onassis, but not to vacation as she once did but rather to visit her ailing former father-in-law Joe Kennedy, as she was dying, and to offer support some time after the media frenzy following Senator Edward Kennedy’s car accident at Chappaquiddick. From what I was told during the research of my oral history biography of her, when she came back in the summer of 1975, following the death of her second husband, she was not entirely at peace in her old home there, telling a close friend she felt “ghosts” in the house – I don’t think literally, but figuratively speaking. I know that she was in Newport with her mother in the summer of 1976 and during the Bicentennial celebration actually had to rush to Poland for the funeral of her ex-brother-in-law Stash Radziwill, with whom she maintained close relations. Thus, the gap in facts seems to be just how long or how frequently she returned there in the summers of 1977, 1978 and 1979. Some wire service photos identify her as being there for the July birthday celebrations of Rose Kennedy, but not in August or September. And too, as you helpfully point out, she returned there to plan her daughter’s wedding and attend other family events there even after she had moved into her own summer home on Martha’s Vineyard which she christened “Red Gate Farm.” If you could learn whether the house used in the summer of 1963 was, in fact, also used by Senator Edward Kennedy and his family – and if not, which house exactly that branch of the family used (was it a third and entirely different house on Squaw Island?), and it this is the same house once owned by Joan Bennett Kennedy’s family and which she was given after their divorce, that would be very helpful in clearing this up – and I would be more than happy to not only post the correction but to credit you directly for the research.

  15. Hi, Carl–

    I have bookmarked at least a dozen of your blog posts here that I intend to comment on, but for now–after a month or so of reading and so that no more time slips away–I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your writing and sharing here. It is hard to find–especially online–places that delve so deeply into history and politics without getting nasty about it. You are doing great work with this website. 🙂

    I’ll be back–

    Val

    • Thank you beyond word Val for saying that – I am committed to the website through January, but unless I can really make it worthwhile financially, the amounts of time I pour into the articles – (the sort I was once paid for but now I and all freelance journalists, historians, etc. do gratis) and take time away from making a living…well. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that I can figure something out. Words like your own are sort of the encouragement that keep me gong a litle4 bit longer, a little bit longer…do tell your friends! And thank you again. Carl.

      And a big P.S. here…..to plug your own website for other readers…

      The tagline that “Life Is Beautiful, even when it isn’t…” are words to live by.

      • Carl,
        – . . . if you have an agent: FIRE that agent and get another! You should be solidly booked with well-paying speaking engagements. I’ve been in audiences and heard you many times. In a line-up of five speakers – they remember you.
        As a “talking head” on television you are cogent, exact and always interesting. The New Agent should be looking into any and all films and TV programs heading into production that need history consultants. (Of course, the agent’s job will be to persuade them that they need that service.)
        The problem, as I see it is marketing. You are a great product and need to be sold. That’s all for today –

        • The biggest problem of all is finding an Agent who understands the hybridism so often at work here and who has enough perhaps mutual interest in the subjects I write about – the full range as reflected or perhaps I should say inter-connected here – to see those marketing opportunities. I have never met such a person. But I appreciate your vote of confidence Jim – a ton. Thank you.

  16. Thank you so much for writing this blog!! A friend pointed me to one of your articles online and I googled your name to find it.

    For the past two years I have been slowly reading through a biography for each of the first ladies and have been blogging my reflections on each book. It’s slow going since I’m just reading for fun, but I am so happy to see I will be able to read a number of your books in the future. I am reading in chronological order and have just finished a biography on White House hostess Priscilla Cooper Tyler that was EXCELLENT! It was interesting to see how her actress background prepared her to be hostess. Of course, friendship with Dolley Madison helped, too.

    Any chance you would write a biography on Hannah Van Buren or Anna Harrison in the future? There are none so far:(

    Thanks again!

    Rachel Schmoyer
    rachelschmoyer.blogspot.com

    • Well thank you for reading and joining it – I work very hard on it, and right now the website magazine is all for no pay, so receiving enthusiastic responses like your own make a big difference. As the national First Ladies Library Historian I also am in the process of rewriting older and shorter online biographies there and I believe you will find a level of detail there that isn’t found elsewhere. For example, the ones covering the women of the Andrew Johnson Administration – and the Tyler – reflect some new findings. Unfortunately, the publishing industry no longer supports the cost of researching and producing biographies on those who are considered relatively obscure unless one finds an outside sponsor to underwrite it. Plus, since so little is known about either woman, I’m not sure there would be enough to support a book – a booklet, yes. And I wish the homes of those presidents would have produced some – as did Ash Lawn with the one on Elizabeth Monroe. I will tell you that my biography of Ida McKinley will be published in June of 2013. Anyway, thanks for writing and joining and do take a look at the national first ladies library website at firstladies.org.

  17. I want to publicly say what I’ve “said” to Mr. Anthony privately – both this effort and he are incredible. Carl Sferrazza Anthony has a gigantic spirit and an intellect that are unmatched and unparallelled in the pantheon of Presidential historians. We are indeed exceedingly lucky to have such a person in out midst who has taken chances and written some of the finest Presidential history ever written. Those of us who are armchair historians, who love to read about the lives of these fascinating people, marvel at the level of detail and accuracy of Mr. Anthony’s work. Carl Anthony has been recognized by President’s, First Ladies and his peers for his outstanding contribution to American history. Each time I have written Mr. Anthony he has been kind enough to put up with yet another “fanboy” (my words not his). I have been a student of Presidential history since at least 1973, however, I lacked the courage and conviction of someone like Mr. Anthony. I wanted to let him and my peers in the “armchair” history community know that I appreciate this site, I appreciate his great body of work and to acknowledge that work. To the rest of you out there – thank you for reading this effusive acknowledgement of a man that I’m proud to know – at least virtually. I appreciate all of your comments. I apologize in advance for any of my inaccuracies and ask for your sufferance as well as that of Mr. Anthony. His graciousness will forever be appreciated by me.

  18. Mr. Anthony: Loved the program on Mrs. Garfield. A most engaging lady. I work at the General Lew Wallace Study & Museum. Wallace, author of Ben-Hur, was appointed U.S. Minister (ambassador) to the Ottoman Empire by Garfield after the President read Ben-Hur. Garfield hoped that this posting in the Middle East would encourage Wallace to write a follow-up to Ben-Hur–which Wallace did. Wallace knew William Henry Harrison, Zachary Taylor (whom he did not like) and from we’ve been able to divine, every President from Buchanan to Teddy Roosevelt. I was wondering if you have ever seen any mention of Lew or Susan Wallace in your research. Thanks so much. Larry Paarlberg

    • Dear Larry: Thanks so much for writing and glad you liked the show. Since my most intensive research is early to mid 20th century (McKinley thru Kennedy) I have no delved into the documentary record with considerable depth on the century preceeding that. I know of Wallace largely by his authoring the campaign biography of Benjamin Harrison. Wish I could be of more help on that, but greatly appreciate your writing.

  19. Dear Mr. Anthony, I’ve periodically watched the CNN series on the First Ladies (though not as many as I should be watching or want to watch, hopefully CNN will put them on DVD,) but I happened to see the one with you as the guest expert on Ida McKinley, and it was fascinating to watch. I love the whole series, and all of the guest biographers/ experts whom I’ve seen so far have been so knowledgeable, but your obvious enthusiasm for what you do and your ability to teach others is wonderful to see. I plan to begin reading your books, and I want to make a day trip to visit the McKinley home within the next few weeks. I live in Columbus, Ohio, so it will be an easy trip for me. I’ve been to the Rutherford B. Hayes home (Spiegel Grove) and I loved touring it. For the first 10 years after I had graduated from college, I lived in Tidewater Virginia, where I frequently visited many of the colonial plantations as well as the homes of all of the Virginia presidents. Presidential history fascinates me, and I’m so glad that I discovered you. Please continue to do what you do, and I look forward to following you at this website. Tom in Columbus

    • Dear Tom – Well I’m flattered and so greatly appreciate your generous observations. Maintaining this website is often a great chore when paired with all else I really need to do but hearing how genuinely you appreciate it is encouraging. I’m not sure just yet but I may perhaps return in the fall for the CSpan series on others whom I’ve written full-length biographies about. We will see. In any event, apologies for the delayed response and many thanks.

      • I hope that you DO return to do more programs on CSpan (my apologies, I incorrectly gave the credit to CNN.)

        On a different topic, I thoroughly enjoyed your essay on the Twin Towers – it was fascinating to read. I actually visited the towers as a typical first time in NYC tourist just 6 months before 9/11. When I think about that, and when I look at the photos I took there, it’s still almost impossible to think that those buildings no longer exist.

  20. Dear Mr. Anthony: I was just watching a re-run on Book TV of one of your talks on first ladies from 1994. I enjoyed it tremendously. I have always been interested in Jane Wyman, the first ex-wife of a U.S. president. Even though she was bored by Reagan and always said she hated politics, do you think in her heart of hearts, lying in bed at night, despite her successful acting career, that she really wished she had stayed with Reagan and become the first lady of the U.S.? Also, do you think she would have been photographed in Mr. T’s lap, giving him a kiss on the forehead, like Nancy Reagan was? Or would she have thought this was unbecoming for a first lady? Would be very interested to hear your response. Keep up the fantastic work!

    • First of all, thanks so much for making the effort to write Allen. What is fascinating about Jane Wyman is that she remained steadfast in her refusal to ever discuss Reagan as either a President or as a former husband. No luret of book contracts or talk show exclusives ever made her waver. Even long years after his presidency, she refused to publicly discuss him. I’m not so sure she would have wanted to be First Lady. Apart from the fact that she knew all too well the vagaries of fame and how it shadowed one forever, I think she was rather willfully ignorant about politics – and this may have made her a boring partner to him, even though an analysis of their relationship has always looked at it from her perspective. The closest she came to making a move which could be seen as vaguely making hay while the sun was shining was her taking the lead role on a nighttime soap opera in which she played a California matriarch who ruled her family with an iron hand – and was given the appearance of a hairstyle and red-colored suits and other clothes which unmistakably evoked the second Mrs. Reagan, then in the White House. It should also be noted that when it came to the most important part of anyone’s life, famous or not, she was sure to be there. Despite the eyebrows it might have raised, she attended the wedding of her birth daughter Maureen Reagan, and had planned to do so along with her former husband and his wife, the President and Mrs. Reagan. The necessary recovery from the March 30, 1981 assassination attempt on his life ultimately prevented the couple from attending. However, at Maureen Reagan’s funeral, following her death to cancer, the world saw Jane Wyman walk hand in hand with Nancy Reagan as they entered the church together.

  21. Absolutely. Wyman thought it was poor taste to discuss former husbands or wives. This made her very unique. Wyman and Nancy Reagan, as I’m sure you know, were distant cousins. Something about this bloodline was very appealing to Ronald Reagan! It must have been a little disconcerting for Nancy, though, to have the specter of his first wife flickering brightly every Friday night on telescreens across the nation, throughout Reagan’s entire presidency! Privately Jane Wyman called Nancy “Nancyvita”, and Nancy finally spilled the beans to Reagan’s biographer about Wyman’s suicide attempt to get Reagan to marry her. You see, I know all the gossip and dirt, but I’m sure you know much more…. Thanks for responding!

    • No idea they were related but I think there’s also some genealogy where one can find all sorts of famous people to be related” distantly. I guess I was not especially impressed by Jane Wyman as either an actress or intellect so I can’t seem to imagine her at all in the White House whereas I think the remarkable almost impossible degree of support the Reagans gave each other was a key factor in his rise to the presidency.

  22. There is an estate sale in DC this weekend that you may be interested in – it is the possessions of Washington society syndicated columnist Betty Beale. There are many letters, cards, pictures, correspondence, etc. chronicling political Washington and correspondence from First Ladies and presidents from Truman to Reagan.

  23. Title: White House History Infographic for carlanthonyonline.com

    Hi Carl,
    After researching the changes to the White House over the decades we’ve put together a piece which looks at how the building and grounds have changed over the decades. As you’ll probably know, each new President has the ability to change the look of the place, move around the walls or install the occasional bowling alley if they feel it’s required
    We’ve had a really good reception about the piece so far and wondered if you would be interested in sharing this with your readers?

    https://www.therugseller.co.uk/infographics/white-house-renovations-interior-design

    Many Thanks,
    Jake

  24. Mr Anthony, Last night I saw the FIrst Ladies Series on C-SPAN, and enjoyed your comments about Lucretia Garfield. Your enthusiasm came through when you were telling a story or answering a question about Mrs Garfield. I hope you are a guest on some of the other parts of the series. It is always a pleasure listening to your wealth of knowledge about the first ladies. I have read your books more than once.

    • Dear Robert – Thank you very, very much. And yes, I am also a guest on the forthcoming episode about Ida McKinley. And I hope to have more books come out down through the years ahead. But it’s awfully thoughtful of you to make the effort to write to me here and I appreciate your observations. You know, once one publishes their thoughts and findings, their individual perspective on historical events and those who were a part of them, it is easy to forget that those perspectives are there in perpetuity, so hearing from one like yourself is especially appreciated. Cheers.

%d bloggers like this: