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Helen Gahagan Douglas on the Anti-Lynching Bill

Helen Gahagan Douglas on the Anti-Lynching Bill

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Regulating Nuclear Technology

The United States ended the war in the Pacific by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, in August 1945, killing more than 100,000 Japanese civilians and demonstrating the devastating power of these new weapons. Neither Congress nor the public understood the terrifying capabilities of atomic weapons prior to August 1945, as development of the bomb had been shrouded in secrecy. Shortly thereafter, Congress debated how to meet the unprecedented political, social, and economic issues precipitated by the revolutionary development of the atomic bomb and nuclear technology.

Melvyn Douglas

Melvyn Douglas (born Melvyn Edouard Hesselberg, April 5, 1901 – August 4, 1981) was an American actor. Douglas came to prominence in the 1930s as a suave leading man, perhaps best typified by his performance in the romantic comedy Ninotchka (1939) with Greta Garbo. Douglas later played mature and fatherly characters, as in his Academy Award–winning performances in Hud (1963) and Being There (1979) and his Academy Award–nominated performance in I Never Sang for My Father (1970). Douglas was one of 24 performers to win the Triple Crown of Acting. In the last few years of his life Douglas appeared in films with supernatural stories involving ghosts. Douglas appeared as "Senator Joseph Carmichael" in The Changeling in 1980 and Ghost Story in 1981 in his final completed film role.


Roberts was born on September 14, 1879, in Chillicothe, Ohio, the son of Andrew Jackson Roberts (1852–1927), a graduate of Oberlin College, and Ellen Wayles Hemings (1856–1940), the daughter of Madison Hemings and Mary Hughes McCoy, a free woman of color. Ellen was 5'10" with blue eyes, and the granddaughter of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson. (When the Jefferson biographer Fawn Brodie saw a family photo of Ellen, she said she could see the strong resemblance to Jefferson.) [1]

When Frederick was six, his family moved in 1885 to Los Angeles, where his father established the first black-owned mortuary in the city. The Roberts had a second son, William Giles Roberts. They and their descendants became prominent in the Los Angeles area, with a strong tradition of college education, and working in public service. [1] Frederick Roberts attended Los Angeles High School and became its first known graduate of African-American descent.

Roberts began college at the University of Southern California (USC) where he majored in pre-law. He continued at Colorado College, where he graduated. He also attended the Barnes-Worsham School of Embalming and Mortuary Science.

In 1908 Roberts started editing the Colorado Springs Light newspaper. While in Colorado, he also served as deputy assessor for El Paso County. He went to Mound Bayou, Mississippi where he served some years as principal of Mound Bayou Normal and Industrial Institute, one of a number of schools founded for African Americans in the segregated state system. [2]

In 1912, Roberts returned to Los Angeles, where he founded The New Age Dispatch newspaper (later called New Age), which he edited until 1948. [1] When he partnered with his father in the mortuary business, they named it A.J. Roberts & Son. Eventually he took it over. [2]

As a newspaper editor and business owner, Roberts became a prominent leader in the growing African-American community of Los Angeles. In the 20th century, people arrived in the Great Migration out of the South to northern, midwestern and western states. He belonged to a Methodist church. He also became a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the Urban League, associations established in the early 20th century to work for political and civil rights for blacks. [3]

In 1921 Roberts married Pearl Hinds, who had studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music. They had daughters Gloria, who became a professional classical pianist, and Patricia, who lived in Los Angeles. [1]

In 1918 Roberts was elected to the California State Assembly from the 62nd District as a Republican in a hard-fought campaign, during which his chief rival made racial slurs against him. [3] While in office, Roberts sponsored legislation to establish the University of California at Los Angeles and improve public education, and proposed several civil rights and anti-lynching measures. [2] In June 1922, he welcomed Black Nationalist leader Marcus Garvey of the UNIA to Los Angeles and rode in his parade car. [1]

Roberts was re-elected repeatedly and served a continuous total of 16 years, becoming known as the "dean of the assembly." He was a friend of Earl Warren, governor of California who became Chief Justice of the United States. [1] In the 1934 mid-term elections, after the election of Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt as president two years previously in the midst of the Great Depression, Roberts was defeated by a Democratic African-American candidate, Augustus F. Hawkins. Following his 1934 California State Assembly defeat, Roberts ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives on two occasions. Until then, no African American had yet been elected to represent California in the United States Congress.

Beginning in the late 1930s and the early 1940s, the second wave of the Great Migration brought tens of thousands of African Americans from the Southern United States to the Los Angeles area for jobs in the growing defense industries. In 1946, Roberts campaigned for the 14th Congressional District against incumbent Helen Gahagan Douglas, but she kept her seat. [3] A few years later, Douglas lost a hotly contested U.S. Senate race to Republican Richard M. Nixon.

On the evening of July 18, 1952, a few days after attending the 1952 Republican National Convention, Roberts sustained serious injuries when the car he was driving was struck by another vehicle near his Los Angeles home. [4] He died the following afternoon at Los Angeles County General Hospital. Roberts is interred at Evergreen Cemetery. [3] He was survived by his wife and two daughters.

About five years ago, I placed a call to Mary Margaret Wiley, who served as President Lyndon Johnson’s personal secretary from 1954 to 1962. I was writing a chapter on LBJ for my book First Dads: Parenting and Politics From George Washington to Barack Obama, and I figured that Wiley could shed some light on Johnson’s relationships with his daughters, Lynda and Luci.

As soon as I identified myself as a biographer, Wiley shot back, “Do you want the dirt?”

“No,” I replied, “I am interested in talking to you about how LBJ interacted with his children.”

Without further ado, Wiley, who died last fall at the age of 85, hung up the phone. My interview was over before I could pose a single question. Puzzled about her remark, I turned to LBJ: Architect of American Ambition by Randall Woods. Wiley did not speak with Woods either, but he learned a lot about her by talking with her successor, Marie Fehmer, who worked for Johnson from 1962 to 1969. In her interview with Woods, Fehmer said that Wiley and Johnson had had a long affair. And Fehmer also admitted that LBJ had tried to seduce her. In November 1962, just a few months after she took over for Wiley, Johnson offered to set Fehmer up in an apartment in New York City, if she would agree to have his child—a proposal she politely declined.

So the “dirt” that Wiley was alluding to likely had something to do with the fact that our 36 th president was a sexual predator who preyed on his secretaries. As noted by Woods and a few other Johnson chroniclers—say, biographer Robert Dallek and longtime aide George Reedy—he also repeatedly groped his female staffers. Presidential speechwriter Horace Busby reported that once, while he was seated in the back seat of a car, he saw Johnson grab a woman under her skirt with one hand while driving with the other.

Surprisingly, in the first four volumes of The Years of Lyndon Johnson, the definitive chronicle of LBJ’s life and career, Robert Caro says nary a word about the president’s predatory behavior. (He is now finishing up the fifth and final volume.) In his new book Working, a primer on his approach to biography, Caro provides his rationale. His magnum opus, Caro explains, says little about “the many women with whom Lyndon Johnson had had sex … because none of them seemed to have any significance to him personally or to have any connection with his political or governmental activities.”

The 83-year-old Caro also explains why he covers just two of LBJ’s affairs in detail—with Alice Glass, the wife of Johnson’s mentor, Charles Marsh, and with California congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas. As Caro notes, these women were political players in their own right: “Alice Glass was in truth not just another bimbo … [she] had a political mind that made her advice on politics worth listening to, so much so that there were moments when her advice was decisive in Lyndon Johnson’s decisions.”

This unreflective use of the misogynistic term bimbo is disturbing, especially in the midst of the #MeToo movement. After all, bimbo was injected into the political lexicon by Bill Clinton’s aide Betsey Wright in the early 1990s—a move that she now deeply regrets. As the Arkansas governor was gearing up for his first White House bid, Wright compiled a list of all the women with whom Clinton had had a sexual encounter of one sort or another the campaign needed to be ready to respond if any of these women ever talked to the press—or, to use her infamous words, in the case of “bimbo eruptions.” For Wright, the shame for these encounters always fell upon the women (say, lounge singer, Gennifer Flowers) rather than upon her boss. And Wright was never bothered by the fact that some of these “bimbos” (say, Paula Jones or Juanita Broaddrick) had credible stories to tell, not of consensual sex, but of harassment or even rape.

How exactly does Caro address LBJ’s relationships with women other than his wife, Lady Bird, in The Years of Lyndon Johnson? From the get-go, Caro is clear that LBJ’s deep insecurity affected his sex life. In The Path to Power, he introduces readers to “Jumbo,” the name that Johnson gave his male member. Caro observes that in college, Johnson liked to boast of many lovers, telling his brother, Sam, “Well, I gotta take ol’ Jumbo here and give him some exercise. I wonder who I’ll fuck tonight.” But as Caro notes, the young Johnson exaggerated his sexual exploits to the point of fabrication.

In the next volume, Means of Ascent, we learn about Johnson’s intense connection with Alice Glass, with whom he began an affair in 1937, three years after his marriage. Caro stresses Glass’ intellectual heft, noting that “she possessed a political acumen so keen that the toughest Texas politicians enjoyed talking politics with her.” Glass longed to be Johnson’s wife, but he was unwilling to court the political suicide that a divorce would entail. Caro also notes that Johnson did not shy away from cheating on Glass with still other women—but these women go nameless. At the beginning of Master of the Senate, Caro describes the affair with Helen Gahagan Douglas, which lasted from 1944 until about 1949. Their bond, he emphasizes, also had strong political roots. He quotes Douglas, who said that a “mutual admiration of Franklin Roosevelt” is what drew them to each other.

In Working, Caro emphasizes that his books are better classified as studies in political power than as biographies and that he is eager to show the effect of that power on ordinary Americans. Of Robert Moses, he writes, “I just couldn’t write the book about the great highway builder—couldn’t outline it, even—without showing the human cost of what he had done. There really was no choice involved.” Yet Caro ignores that one of the prime movers of LBJ’s ambition was to exert more power over women—so that he could have more success in his attempts to exercise “Jumbo.” As George Reedy puts it, “Sex to Johnson was part of the spoils of victory.”

As Robert Dallek reports, throughout his career in elective office, Johnson “wanted beautiful women working for him and viewed them as fair game.” Dallek adds that Johnson, who would boast to his White House aides that he had “more women by accident than Kennedy ever had on purpose,” would not hesitate to use the Oval Office as a site for sexual activity.

While Caro does briefly allude to Johnson’s harassing demands upon his female staffers—such as his insistence that they lose weight—he tosses these comments into a brief section on how LBJ emotionally abused everyone who worked for him, both men and women. Remarkably, Caro neglects to mention how LBJ repeatedly invaded the physical boundaries of his female employees by groping them. This curious omission by America’s preeminent biographer, whose work is otherwise so thorough and sensitive, points to the depth of the problem that the #MeToo movement is trying to redress—that the sexual violence endured by generations of working women has long been nearly completely buried.

In the introduction to The Path to Power, Caro identifies a dark thread that runs through Johnson’s life, which he defines as “a hunger for power in its most naked form, for power not to improve the lives of others, but to manipulate and dominate them, to bend them to his will.” Perhaps nowhere is this cruel streak more salient than in Johnson’s relationships with his female staffers. That this exhaustive chronicler who writes so movingly of Johnson’s other character flaws overlooks his virulent misogyny is startling—and points to a long-standing blind spot not just in presidential biography but in the culture at large.

Helen Gahagan Douglas – the original movie star politician

These days they seem even more tired than a cliché – celebrity politicians.

You’ve got second-generation pro wrestling titan Linda McMahon running for public office in Connecticut. You’ve got comedian Al Franken serving in the U.S. Senate from Minnesota, the same state which – speaking of wrestling – once elected Jesse “The Body” Ventura as governor.

Of course, there’s also Arnold Schwarzenegger. And every few months it seems as if whispers surface that movie stars from George Clooney to Alec Baldwin are going to make the leap from the big screen to the political world.

Finally, there’s the former actor who seemed to blaze the trail for onetime movie stars who want to break into politics – Ronald Reagan.

But around the same time young Reagan was making films such as Bedtime for Bonzo, another former actor was making waves in Washington. As a woman entering political life back in the 1940s, she knew a thing or two about being a trailblazer.

And little did she know her future held an infamous showdown with a rising political star named Richard Nixon, and a love affair with yet another congressman with a future named Lyndon Johnson.

Not bad for a Jersey girl whose father was born in Ireland.

Her name was Helen Gahagan Douglas. A newly-published book, The Pink Lady: The Many Lives of Helen Gahagan Douglas (Bloomsbury Press) has resurrected interest in the long, complicated life of this actress-turned-politician.

She was born in New Jersey but raised in Brooklyn. Her father, an engineer, was not exactly interested in artistic pursuits.

Nevertheless, Helen pursued a career on the stage. But she was always cultivating political opinions -- including Irish ones.

As part of an oral history project in the 1970s, Gahagan said this about her days as a schoolgirl, “The one issue that I was passionate about was the independence of Ireland. Absolutely passionate about it.”

The interviewer then asks, “Did you have a lot of other Irish there who were on your side?”

Douglass replied, “No, no, no.”

By the 1920s, Gahagan was a Broadway star. In 1931, she married leading man Melvyn Douglas.

Her only Hollywood role was in the film She, which is about a woman with the power to tame tribes in the wilds of Africa.

It was in 1944 that Douglas became the first woman Democrat elected to the House of Representatives. Not surprisingly, Douglas represented California which, decades later, would elect the likes of Sonny Bono, Reagan and Schwarzenegger to public office.

Douglas was an unabashed liberal who, according to Lyndon Johnson’s most acclaimed biographer Robert Caro, had a love affair with the future president in the 1940s.

It was in 1950 that Douglas chased history and ran for the U.S. Senate seat. She was up against an ambitious fellow congressman named Richard Nixon.

Already, Nixon had learned that whipping up anti-Communist hysteria was a good way to score political points. So, he famously referred to Douglas as the “Pink Lady.” The suggestion was that Douglas may not be a Commie “Red,” but she was very close to it.

Nixon knew what he was doing. He won the election easily.

For what it is worth, Douglas earned a measure of revenge. It is believed that she coined the famous phrase “Tricky Dick,” referring to Nixon.

Memories of the Douglas-Nixon battle did not die easily. When Nixon was embroiled in the Watergate controversy in the 1970s, bumper stickers which read “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Helen Gahagan Douglas” were popular items.

Douglas lived another 30 years before she died in 1980 (yes, the year Reagan was elected).

Next time you hear a celebrity spouting off about politics, and running for office, think about Helen Gahagan Douglas.

You may want to give her credit or blame her for creating this mess. But, at the very least, think of her.

� Presidential Race” Republicans

Richard Nixon, center, is flanked by Dan Rowan, left, and Dick Martin right, of ‘Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In’ TV show at October 1968 campaign stop in Burbank, CA. Nixon appeared on ‘Laugh-In’ in mid-Sept 1968 in the humorous 'sock-it-to-me' segment, covered later below. (AP photo)

Historically, Republicans were more suspicious of liberal-leaning Hollywood than Democrats. And Hollywood itself, especially after the communist witch hunts of the late 1940s and 1950s, was leery of politics generally.

“People in Hollywood are generally afraid to be active in politics,” said actor Dick Powell in September 1960. “This is especially true of some in television who believe that their sponsors would not want them to be identified with a political party.”

Another actor, Vincent Price, added in the same 1960 interview: “Here in Hollywood, actors are not supposed to have political opinions.” But many did, of course.

Dick Powell, for example, was then, in September 1960, heading up a group of Hollywood Republicans supporting the Richard Nixon-Henry Cabot Lodge ticket then bidding for the White House. But by the later 1960s, and in 1968 in particular, celebrity involvement in politics would become much more prominent.

Ronald & Nancy Reagan at victory party after winning the 1966 California governor's race.

Murphy & Reagan

In fact, by the mid-1960s, Republican actors began running for, and winning, public office. Actor/dancer George Murphy was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1964, and actor Ronald Reagan won the California Governor’s race in 1966. Murphy was a film actor who danced with Shirley Temple in the 1938 film Little Miss Broadway and acted opposite Judy Garland in Little Nellie Kelly (1940). Murphy became active in California politics in the 1950s and had served as director of entertainment for Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential inaugurations of 1953 and 1957. By 1964, Murphy became a politician himself, winning a California U.S. Senate seat.

Ronald Reagan had been movie actor in the 1930s and 1940s, appearing in variety of films, and also became a familiar 1950s TV host for the popular “General Electric Theater.” Reagan’s second wife, Nancy, had also appeared in Hollywood films. In addition to Reagan and Murphy winning office, one of Hollywood’s most notable childhood stars from the 1940s, Shirley Temple, ran for an open seat in Congress in 1967, but did not win. Still, by the time of the 1968 presidential election, with Ronald Reagan as California’s governor and George Murphy in the U.S. Senate, Hollywood and its celebrities were clearly a presence in Republican politics. But among the candidates for the Republican presidential nomination that year, was the very “un-Hollywood” former Vice-President, Richard M. Nixon.

Nixon’s Rise

Nixon cheering himself over election returns in 1950 in defeat of Democrat Helen Gahagan-Douglas in U.S. Senate race.

Nixon first made his way onto the national scene in 1946, elected as a Congressman from California. In Washington he quickly made a career for himself in the late 1940s as a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), which pursued alleged communists in government and in Hollywood. Although Nixon became known for his role in the Alger Hiss case — a State Department official accused of being a Soviet spy — he also helped HUAC query Hollywood actors and executives suspected of communist activities or lacking in their loyalties. In 1947 hearings, for example, he asked Jack Warner of Warner Brothers, “How many anti-communist movies have you made?”

George Murphy, shown here with Shirley Temple in 1938, helped Richard Nixon in his bid for the White House in 1960, and became a U.S. Senator himself in 1964.

As a young Congressman and then a Senator, Nixon rose quickly in the Republican party, becoming Dwight D. Eisenhower’s vice-presidential running mate in 1952 (though Nixon did have one brush with controversy that year nearly costing him his career see “Nixon’s Checker’s Speech”). The Eisenhower/ Nixon ticket, in any case, won two successive terms — 1952 and 1956. But when Nixon ran for President in 1960, opposing John F. Kennedy, he lost. Then in 1962, he tried to become California’s Governor and lost again, this time to Democrat Pat Brown. In each of these elections, from the early 1950s, there was always some contingent of Hollywood — both actors and studios — supporting Nixon and/or the Eisenhower/Nixon ticket. Nixon first met entertainer Bob Hope in the 1950s when Nixon was Vice President. Hope would become a friend and supporter thereafter. In 1960, when Nixon ran for the White House, Hollywood stars George Murphy and Helen Hayes formed a “Celebrities for Nixon Committee.”

Nixon had met Bob Hope in the 1950s when he was Vice President with Eisenhower. Hope became a Nixon supporter, and is shown here in September 1969 with President Nixon in the Oval Office.

Nixon on Jack Paar TV show, believed to be March of 1963. Parr is holding Nixon’s book, ‘Six Crises,’ published in 1962.

Loss to Pat Brown

But after Nixon lost badly to Pat Brown in the 1962 California Governor’s race — by nearly 300,000 votes — he charged that the media had showed favoritism to Brown. Many pundits at the time thought Nixon was finished as a politician, especially since he declared the day after his loss: “You won’t have Nixon to kick around anymore because, gentlemen, this is my last press conference.” But several months later, Nixon appeared on The Jack Paar Program, (a talk show similar to that of today’s David Letterman or Jay Leno ) leaving the door open to his political future.

And sure enough, by the mid-1960s, Richard Nixon was rising from the ashes of his prior losses, on his way to one of the biggest political comebacks in American history. Nixon joined a New York law firm after his California gubernatorial defeat, and from there laid the groundwork for his return. He campaigned vigorously for Republicans in the 1966 Congressional elections, providing a key base of indebted members. Republicans added 47 House seats in that election, three in the Senate, and eight governorships. Nixon was also traveling and advancing his ideas on national politics and international affairs among Republican insiders. So it was no surprise to party regulars in January 1968, when he formally announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination.

Romney, Rocky & Reagan

In some 1967 polling, Michigan Governor George Romney, a former auto company executive, led Nixon among moderates.
Nelson Rockefeller, shown on Time’s Aug 1960 cover, had previously battled Nixon for the nomination and lost.

In the first primary of 1968 — New Hampshire on March 12th, now without Romney — Nixon took 78 percent of the vote. Republicans wrote in the name of then yet-to-announce Rockefeller, who received 11 percent of the vote.

Rockefeller became something of a reluctant candidate, but allowed party members and others to work on his behalf. And eventually, Rockefeller did get into campaign mode, putting forward a plan to disengage from Vietnam and also offering some novel Republican strategies to address urban problems. But throughout the 1968 primary season, Nixon generally led Rockefeller in the polls, although Rockefeller won the April 30th Massachusetts primary.

The other Republican candidate then on the horizon, and a potential problem for Nixon, was filmstar-turned-politician Ronald Reagan.

Ronald Reagan and Nancy Davis star in 1957's ‘Hellcats of the Navy,’ by Columbia Pictures.

By 1968, with support from conservatives, Reagan emerged as a potent challenger to Nixon. According to Gene Kopelson, author of Reagan’s 1968 Dress Rehearsal: Ike, RFK, and Reagan’s Emergence as a World Statesman (2016), Reagan at the time was being mentored, in part, by President Eisenhower, and he actually viewed Democrat Robert F. Kennedy as his main potential political rival. During his 1968 bid, Reagan first raised the issues he would pursue in his later presidency – tearing down the Berlin Wall, proposing an antimissile defense shield, and pushing for freedom behind the Iron Curtain. During the 1968 contest, Reagan had campaign staff across the nation, and he focused on the Wisconsin, Oregon, and Nebraska primaries. In the Nebraska primary of May 14th, he was Nixon’s chief rival. Still, Nixon took 70 percent of the vote there to 21 percent for Reagan, and 5 percent for Rockefeller. Nixon continued to win the primaries, with the exception of California, which he conceded to Reagan — a primary in which only Reagan’s name appeared on the ballot.

Reagan’s large margin in California, however, gave him a narrow lead in the nationwide primary popular vote — Reagan had 1,696,632 votes or 37.93% compared to Nixon’s 1,679,443 votes or 37.54%. Some believe that if Reagan had made a committed run for the nomination, and had mounted a more determined campaign earlier, he could have beat Nixon. Still, by the time the Republican National Convention assembled in August 1968, Nixon had 656 delegates, needing only 11 more to reach the nomination at 667. Author Gene Kopelson notes, however, that many delegates were obligated to Nixon on the first ballot, but could not wait to vote for Reagan had Nixon been stopped.

Celebrities for Nixon

Nixon shown here with Rudy Vallee in the 1960s. Vallee had been a well known radio and Hollywood film star of the 1930s & 1940s.
John Wayne’s movie, ‘The Green Berets', was released in July 1968.

Wayne had backed Nixon over Kennedy in the 1960 presidential race, and in 1968 he was backing Nixon again. Wayne liked Nixon for his anti-communist stance. A supporter of the Vietnam War, Wayne was a critic of Lyndon Johnson’s handling of the War. Wayne had made a popular war movie at the time that used Vietnam — a very patriotic film called The Green Berets (June-July 1968). The film had a premier in Atlanta, Georgia on June 25, 1968, which coincided with that city’s “Salute To America” celebration. Wayne served as grand marshal in the parade, and the overall event attracted some 300,000 people. The Green Berets film, meanwhile, was cheered in the south, but protested in northern cities and university towns. Nixon’s campaign staff had noted Wayne’s appeal to blue collar voters and a certain segment of the white southern vote. One of Nixon’s campaign aides at the time, Kevin Philips, explained Wayne’s appeal to a segment of voters Nixon needed: “Wayne might sound bad to people in New York,” he said, “but he sounds great to the schmucks we’re trying to reach through John Wayne — the people down there along the Yahoo Belt. If I had time I’d check to see in what areas The Green Berets was held over [in theaters], and I’d play a special series of John Wayne [Nixon campaign] spots wherever it was.” Wayne was also scheduled to speak at the Republican Convention in Miami that August.

Green Bay Packer quarterback Bart Starr – shown on a ‘Sport Illustrated’ Jan 1967 cover – was a Nixon supporter in 1968.

Bart Starr & Wilt

Among other Nixon supporters were famous athletes, including, former heavyweight boxing champ Joe Louis, Los Angeles Lakers basketball star Wilt Chamberlain, and Green Bay Packer quarterback Bart Starr. Joe Louis was long retired from the boxing ring by then, but his name was still well known to sports enthusiasts. Bart Starr was probably the most famous professional football player in the country at the time. He had led the Packers to NFL Championships in 1961, 1962, 1965, 1966, and 1967. In 1966 and 1967, he also led the Packers to convincing victories in the first two Super Bowls and was named the Most Valuable Player of both games.

Pro basketball player Wilt Chamberlain — the LeBron James and Shaqueal O’Neill of his day — was nearly ten years into his career by then, and had played for the Harlem Globetrotters, the Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, and Philadelphia 76ers. He would help Nixon reach out to the black community and tout Nixon’s ideas on “black capitalism.”

Tex Ritter, who sang the famous 1952 movie song, ‘Do Not Forsake Me Oh, My Darlin’, was a Nixon supporter in 1968.

Another Nixon supporter in 1968 was Tex Ritter, a singing cowboy who began a radio career in the late 1920s, and also had success with stints in radio, film, Broadway, and recording. Ritter, father of the late actor John Ritter, was also known for singing the famous High Noon film song of 1952, “Do Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin.” It won an Academy award for Best Song of the year and also became a popular hit. Ritter sang the High Noon song at the Academy Awards ceremony in 1953, the first to be televised. By 1968, Ritter had also become quite active in Republican politics, supporting the runs of various candidates including, John Tower of Texas, Howard Baker of Tennessee, George Murphy of California, Barry Goldwater of Arizona, and Ronald Reagan in California. A personal friend of Nixon’s, Ritter also wrote a campaign song for Nixon in 1968. On one occasion when Ritter was on tour in Germany, Nixon arranged for a plane to meet Ritter and his wife so that Ritter could entertain a political gathering being held for Nixon in Nashville, Tennessee where nearly 25,000 supporters were gathered. Nixon would also garner the support from Roy Ackuff of the Grand Ole Oprey.

Republican convention in Miami, August 1972, where Nixon was nominated on the first ballot.

Miami Convention

On August 5, 1968 at the opening of Republican National Convention, Miami Beach Convention Center in Miami Beach, Florida, there were mini-skirted Rockefeller girls, Nixon men on stilts costumed as Uncle Sam, and live elephants out in the street. Celebrities such as Hugh O’Brien and John Wayne were on hand too. On the first morning of the convention, delegates cheered enthusiastically as John Wayne spoke. Nelson Rockefeller, technically still in the running at that point, had his celebrities, too — among them, Kitty Carlisle, Teresa Wright, Nancy Ames, Hildegarde, and singer Billy Daniels. On the evening of August 7th, 1968, an estimated guest list of some 8,000 were wined and dined at a Nelson Rockefeller reception. Lionel Hampton’s band provided music, and among the guests were hundreds of celebrities.

John Wayne adressing convention.
Ronald Reagan threw his full support to Nixon at the 1968 convention.

Nixon campaigning in the Philadelphia, PA area, July 1968.

The Celebrity Preacher

Another prominent American who had the ear of the middle America, and was also a supporter of Richard Nixon in 1968, was evangelist Billy Graham. Graham was a very popular religious leader with a huge following. A long-time friend of Nixon’s, Graham had prominently supported Nixon over Kennedy in the 1960 presidential election. In the 1950s, he had also supported Eisenhower. When Nixon was Vice President, Graham arranged for Nixon to address major gatherings of Methodists, Presbyterians, among others, and wrote at least one speech for him, according to Garry Wills. Billy Graham’s huge popu- larity in the south was seen as especially helpful to Nixon’s “Southern strategy.” “Graham worked closely with Nixon in the 1968 campaign, advised him on relations with the Evangelical community, and vouched for him in that community,” explains Wills in his book Head and Heart: American Christianities. Graham’s huge popularity in the south, in particular, was regarded as especially helpful to Nixon’s “Southern strategy” in 1968, a bid to appeal to conservative white Democrats in southern states, many still fearful of racial desegregation. Although Graham had desegregated his own religious activities in the South during the 1950s, he denounced civil rights agitators in the 1960s. His endorsement of “law and order” fit nicely with Nixon’s plan to attract Southern whites to the Republican side by denouncing liberal activists.

Billy Graham & Richard Nixon, 1970.

Connie & Jackie

Popular singer Connie Francis, shown here on an album cover, made a TV ad for Nixon in 1968.
Jackie Gleason, popular in his 1950s ‘Honeymooners’ TV sit-com, shown here in the 1961 film ‘The Hustler.’

In the fall of 1968, Jackie Gleason, the TV entertainer and film actor — making his first endorsement in national politics — threw his support to Richard Nixon. Gleason was the star of The Jackie Gleason Show and The Honeymooners, both of which were popular TV shows of the 1950s and early 1960s. Gleason had also made a few movies by then, including The Hustler of 1961, in which he played opposite Paul Newman as pool shark Minnesota Fats. ( Newman had supported Democrat Eugene McCarthy). Gleason in 1968 was still a popular celebrity and had a following throughout the country.

In the fall campaign, Gleason kicked off a one-hour long televised rally for Nixon from New York’s Madison Square Garden on October 31, 1968. He introduced the hour with his personal endorsement of Nixon, stating on the tape it was his first ever political endorsement as he made his appeal to voters.

On the tape, after a narrator introduces Gleason — who is dressed in a dapper suit with a carnation in his lapel — he makes his pitch:

Nixon with Jackie Gleason on golf course.

“I love this country. It’s been good to me — beyond my wildest dreams. And because I love America so much, lately I’ve been concerned. Like a lot of you, I’m concerned about where American is going in the next four years. That’s why I’ve decided to speak up for Richard Nixon. He sees it like it is. And he tells it like its is. I’ve never made a public choice like this before. But I think our country needs Dick Nixon — and we need him now. I think we’ll all feel a lot safer with him in the White House.
In the next hour, you’re going to see him, hear him speak. Listen to him. Make up your own mind. Never mind what everybody else tells you he says. Listen to him say it, yourself. And see if you don’t agree with me. Dick Nixon’s time has come. We need him. You and I need him. America needs him. The world needs him. …And so Madison Square Garden, ‘a-wa-a-a-y we go!’.”

Richard Nixon with Jimmy Stewart, Fred MacMurray, and Bob Hope at Burbank, CA Lakeside Golf Club in January 1970. (AP photo)

In addition, both were avid golfers, and Gleason would have Nixon as a guest at some of his later celebrity and charity golf tournaments.

During his Presidential years, Nixon would also play golf with Hollywood celebrities from time to time.

T.V. Strategy

Esquire’s May 1968 cover had some fun with a stock Nixon photo mixed with some cosmetics ad copy. ‘This time he’d better look right,’ said the cover note, alluding to Nixon’s poor showing vs. JFK in 1960. Nixon did not debate Humphrey in 1968 and held few press conferences.

“Sock it To Me”

Nixon did, however, make one notable TV appearance in the 1968 election an appearance on one of the more popular TV shows of that day — Laugh-In. Formally known as Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In, the comedy and variety show was something like the Saturday Night Live of its day, though more of a fad show. But it was quite popular among the young. It offered witty skits and political barbs, and made stars of Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin. But most importantly for advertisers and politicians, Laugh-In had a very good rating, with millions watching. In mid-September 1968, Nixon broke from his general election campaign to appear on the show and recite the show’s signature catchphrase, “sock it to me,” often done by noted celebrities. Some believe that Nixon’s ‘sock-it-to-me’ appearance on Laugh-In helped him win the election, as it cast the otherwise formal and stodgy Nixon in a few seconds of self-deprecat- ing humor. Nixon’s taped appearance ran on September 16, 1968. Nixon himself had been reluctant to do the spot, not being a big fan of TV to begin with. And most of his aides were not very keen on the idea either, and advised against it. But one of the show’s writers, Paul Keyes, was a friend of Nixon’s, and when Nixon was out in California for a press conference they took a camera and got him aside to do the phrase. But it wasn’t easy. It took several takes. Nixon kept saying the phrase in an angry tone. Finally, Nixon did the line as a question, “Sock it to me?, with emphasis and uptick on the “me.” That was the version used, and the producer thought it made Nixon look good — so good, in fact, they thought Hubert Humphrey should appear on the show in an equal role. For Humphrey, they were thinking of using a variation of the phrase — “I’ll sock it to you, Dick” — as if responding to Nixon. But Humphrey’s handlers thought it would appear undignified, so Humphrey did not appear. Happily for Nixon, his Laugh-In appearance may have helped him in the election. Some believe that the brief clip had cast the otherwise formal and stodgy Nixon in a few seconds of self-deprecating humor. Even Humphrey would later tell the show’s producer that not making the appearance on Laugh-In might have cost him votes in the election. Nixon would also make an appearance with Laugh-In’s Dan Rowan and Dick Martin at a campaign stop in Burbank, California in October 1968 (see photo at beginning of story above).

Nixon campaigning in Philadelphia, PA, on Chestnut Street, September 1968. (AP photo).

On election day that November, in one of the closest elections in U.S. history, Nixon beat Humphrey by a slim margin. Although Nixon took 302 electoral votes to Humphrey’s 191, the popular vote was extremely close: Nixon at 31,375,000 to 31,125,000 for Humphrey, or 43.4 percent to 43.1 percent. Third party candidate George Wallace was a key factor in the race, taking more votes from Humphrey than Nixon, hurting Humphrey especially in the south and with union and working class voters in the north. Wallace recorded 9.9 million votes, or 13.5 percent of the popular vote, winning five southern states and taking 45 electoral votes. Democrats retained control of the House and Senate, but the country was now headed in a more conservative direction.

In his victory, Nixon brought some of his famous friends along with him to celebrate at the inaugural festivities. And beyond that, a few also made it into the realm of policy and received formal appointments. Shirley Temple Black was appointed by Nixon to be U. S. Representative to the United Nations. Other of Nixon’s famous friends became informal advisors and helped set a new cultural and even moral tone in the country.

Esquire magazine ran a June 1969 cover story on ‘the Nixon style’ featuring his celebrity friends (behind Nixon): Art Linkletter, Billy Graham, Rudy Vallee & Lawrence Welk.

In June 1969, Esquire magazine poked fun at the new “Nixon style” in Washington with a cover story depicting Nixon supporters Lawrence Welk, Rudy Vallee, Billy Graham, and Art Linkletter along with Nixon himself for the story, “Getting Hep to the Nixon Style.”

Nixon would subsequently win re-election in November 1972, crushing Democrat George McGovern. But the Watergate scandal — which began as a back-pages, police-blotter news story about a bungled break-in at the Democrat’s Washington, D.C. headquarters — was already in motion. Watergate would soon unravel to become a full-fledged national scandal that would shake the federal government to its core, bringing Nixon to impeachment and then resignation as President in August 1974. Meanwhile, back in California where Nixon’s career had begun, there were those who remembered the 1940s and 1950s, and proudly sported a popular bumper sticker during the Watergate years that read: “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Helen Gahagan-Douglas!”

Other Richard Nixon stories at this website include: “Nixon’s Checkers Speech, 1952” (during which the Vice President extricates himself from scandal through the “magic” of television) “The Frost-Nixon Biz”(covering the famous 1977 David Frost-Richard Nixon TV interviews and the related book, stage, and film productions that followed) and “Enemy of the President” (about cartoonist Paul Conrad and some of his famous Nixon Watergate cartoons). Nixon is also covered in part in, “JFK’s 1960 Campaign,” as well as “The Pentagon Papers, 1967-2018,” where the seeds of Watergate were first planted. See also at this website, the Democrats’ 1968 story at, “1968 Presidential Race – Democrats.” Thanks for visiting – and if you like what you find here, please make a donation to help support the research and writing at this website. Thank you. – Jack Doyle

Newstalgia Reference Room - Helen Gahagan Douglas On Racial Discrimination - 1948

(Helen Gahagan Douglas - coined the phrase "Tricky Dick" in referring to Nixon)

Helen Gahagan Douglas had several distinctions during her short-lived career in politics. She was one of the first women to be elected to Congress, one of the very first who went from an acting profession to politics (and you thought Reagan was the first), and was probably the first to be the victim of the vicious smear tactics employed by another upstart Congressman, Richard Nixon. It was during a particularly virulent campaign that Douglas coined the phrase "Tricky Dick" in referring to Nixon. Nixon, in turn claimed "Douglas was Pink all the way down to her underwear". Ah, the good old days of ruthless personal smears!

Helen Gahagan Douglas was a Congresswoman from California who went on to be defeated in her bid for the Senate in 1948 by Richard Nixon. But up to that time, she was a tireless advocate for Civil Rights legislation and had introduced several Anti-Lynching bills to the House in the 1940's.

This talk, given in 1948 follows that theme, the subject of racial discrimination in hiring and housing.

Helen Gahagan Douglas: “We are a nation blessed by God with material riches beyond all others, Our mountains, our plains, our rivers, our harbors, have given us industry and commerce, agriculture and mining resources that are the envy and the despair of the rest of the world. Our richest and our greatest resource however, is people. People living under free and fair institutions which permit them to develop fully the talents God gave them. We waste this resource if we sanction discrimination.”

Sadly, none of her introduced legislation ever won passage and she left politics after suffering a 59% defeat in her bid for the Senate. She is probably better known today as the Woman Nixon smeared by allegedly tying her to Communist causes. But at the time she was trying to make a difference. History wound up being on her side in the end.

Helen Gahagan Douglas: The Hillary Clinton of the 1940s

As Hillary Clinton continues her “excuse” tour regarding her decisive loss to Trump, ranging from the now well-worn Russian collusion thesis to weak support from Obama during the campaign to an ineffective and shattered DNC, many Democrats have sought to acquaint her with the painful reality that she was simply a bad candidate.

Such frankness, however, has not attached itself to a cherished liberal history lesson regarding an eerily similar 1950 California Senate race between Republican Congressman Richard Nixon and Democratic Congresswoman Helen Gahagan Douglas. For liberals then and now, Nixon’s victory was achieved by his métier of red-baiting and character assassination, with a heavy dose of misogyny thrown into the mix.

To encapsulate all of Nixon’s admittedly thuggish attacks on Gahagan, liberals have cited his infamous mixture of anti-feminism with anti-communism, when he bellowed about Gahagan’s politics, that “she is pink right down to her underwear” (a statement the Nixon campaign borrowed verbatim from Gahagan’s Democratic primary opponent, Sheldon Boddy).

Although Nixon’s dodgy at best character, ruthlessly dishonest at worst, and the white-hot political climate of 1950, probably the most intense expression of domestic and apocalyptic anti-communism during the Cold War, owing to a series of hysteria-causing events (the fall of China to communists the Soviet acquisition of the Atomic Bomb the atomic spy trials of the Rosenbergs and the Korean War) played a considerable role in Gahagan’s defeat, the politically incorrect truth was that she was a terrible candidate.

For Douglas was the worst kind of liberal: sanctimonious, over-emotional, Manichean, and morally vain. Emulating Republican President George W. Bush’s public confusion over a scanner in a store check-out, Douglas’ attempt at populism by riding streetcars was bungled when she had to ask which end to board.

She was often was patronizing toward minorities, as when she told a black church audience that “I just love the Negro people,” and insulted a considerable number of African-American Republicans in the 1940s by writing that if she were a “Negro” she would join “liberals of all faiths, all shades.”

As with a tactic she criticized Republicans for, she often wrapped herself in the religious flag, once telling Congressional opponents of a fair-employment bill that they needed to “get on the side of God.”

Moreover, she was a poor Congresswoman, more agitator than lawmaker, who could not get any of her legislative proposals passed. Like Bill Clinton, she was long-winded and self-promoting in her speeches which narcotized audiences. She would go onto publicly praise Democratic Senator Claude Pepper, a fervent supporter of Josef Stalin, who as late as 1948 lauded the dictator’s regime as giving minorities “more freedom, recognition and respect” than anywhere else in the world.

Rarely mentioned in liberal retrospectives was that Gahagan was willing during the Senate campaign to get into the gutter with Nixon on red-baiting. Indeed, it was she who red-baited first, attacking Nixon as “the Congressman the Kremlin loves” based on the Republican’s “refusal” to support an economic aid package to South Korea.

Characterizing Nixon as representing the “failure of so many to understand the communist threat in the Far East,“ Gahagan linked Nixon’s opposition to the South Korean aid package as assuring North Korea’s invasion of the South.

As with Nixon and Senator Joseph McCarthy, her accusation was easily invalidated. Nixon’s initial refusal to support the aid package was because the bill did not also supply economic and military funding to the exiled Chiang Kai-shek government in Taiwan. When this aid was included, Nixon promptly supported the bill.

She applied this red-baiting tactic to the Republican Party as a whole, accusing those in the GOP who did not support liberal domestic programs as acting like the kind of saboteurs of “our national strength that the Communists hope to enlist.”

Such sabotage, Gahagan stated, made these Republicans worthy of joining “the Order of Stalin.”

But these accusations were self-destructive, as they aided the Nixon campaign’s strategy of making the communist issue front and center. For even his enemies such as Eleanor Roosevelt conceded that Nixon was an extremely effective and convincing speaker on the communist issue, and warned Gahagan to stay away from the issue advice she ultimately did not heed.

Gahagan was extremely vulnerable on this issue. Three years before the campaign, in 1947, Douglas was one of the few who voted against the Truman Doctrine and its objective of aiding countries threatened by the Soviets. It must be said, however, that beneath all the sanctimony and gutter politics was a figure of considerable courage and a voice of reason in a hysterical time.

Along with her husband, actor Melvyn Douglas, she was very much a premature anti-fascist (both founded the Hollywood Anti-Nazi League in 1936) and also a premature anti-Stalinist, who waged a valiant and doomed campaign against communist influence in the League, especially regarding members’ defense of the Hitler-Stalin Non-Aggression Pact in 1939—a defense that both resigned over.

A decade later, Gahagan emulated her husband (much more politically astute than her he correctly predicted that members of the Hollywood Communist Party would not defect over the Hitler-Stalin military partnership which later caused him to warn liberals not to support the civil rights of Stalinists) by refusing to support the frankly pro-Soviet presidential candidacy of Henry Wallace, FDR’s Vice President in 1940, and instead threw her weight behind Harry’s Truman’s in 1948 an action that several of her fellow New Dealers condemned.

When ten movie industry figures in 1947 were subpoenaed to appear before Congress and answer questions about their political affiliations, Gahagan took the increasingly unpopular stance (all of the Hollywood Ten had been or currently were Communists and accordingly, refused to answer questions directly) of condemning the Congressional hearings and its verdict.

While Nixon went with the Congressional majority by supporting the Contempt of Congress charge lodged against the Ten, Gahagan was one of only seventeen who cast a nay vote. She tried to make a crucial distinction between condemning the hearings and its assault on individual rights without defending the obvious Communist politics of the Ten.

She also took the increasingly unpopular stance—in light of New Dealers like Alger Hiss outed as Soviet spies—of defending liberalism from charges that it was strongly linked to Communism, and correctly gauged that such charges were harmful to the American government.

Against lawmaker Jack Tenney, who, as head of the California State Un-American Activities Committee, charged Hollywood liberals as Communists, Gahagan accused Tenney of “undermining our form of government when he attempts to make people believe that liberal and Communist are synonymous.”

But the hysterical tide, as well as her own unattractive aspects, went against her, and she was soundly defeated by Nixon, who garnered 59 percent of the vote. To her credit, however, she never engaged in martyrdom as did Hillary Clinton, and had a clear-eyed view that Nixon’s red-baiting accusations were superfluous as she was bound to lose anyway.

From the Archives: Helen Gahagan Douglas, Ex-Congresswoman, Dies

Helen Gahagan Douglas, the actress-turned-congresswoman who lost the 1950 U.S. Senate race to Richard M. Nixon in one of the most vitriolic campaigns in the state’s history, died Saturday in a New York cancer hospital. She was 79.

The New Jersey-born Democrat was a stage star and operatic singer who moved to the California film community and eventually to California politics. She was a three-term congresswoman whose McCarthy-era votes against funding for the House Un-American Activities Committee and opposition to contempt citations for the “Hollywood Ten” prompted opponents — including Nixon — to label her “soft on communism.”

That charge, and the nickname “pink lady,” which clung to her throughout the campaign, were enough to give then-Congressman Nixon — fresh from the investigation that led to the January, 1950, perjury conviction of Alger Hiss — a 60% vote in his bitterly fought campaign against Mrs. Douglas. That race ended her political career.

During that campaign, Mrs. Douglas accused her opponent of conducting a campaign of “fear and hysteria.”

Nixon, she said, “is throwing up a smoke screen of smears, innuendos and half-truths to try to confuse and mislead . . . I despise totalitarianism in any form — fascism, Nazism or communism. I despise the cheap thinking that is being injected into this campaign in California and throughout the country.”

Mrs. Douglas had entered Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center a week ago, according to a family spokesman, for treatment of a recurrence of cancer. She had undergone a mastectomy seven years ago, a quarter-century after introducing a bill urging researchers to pool their efforts to combat cancer.

At her side when she died early Saturday morning were Oscar-winning actor Melvyn Douglas, her husband of 49 years, and her daughter, Mary Helen. Her son, Peter, had visited her the day before, the spokesman said.

Mrs. Douglas’ professional life crossed a spectrum of careers. Reared in Brooklyn, she was a Barnard College student in 1922 when she made her theater debut in “Dreams for Sale” and later appeared in such plays as “Trelawney of the Wells” and “Mary of Scotland” before taking voice lessons that eventually took her to the operatic stage.

She sang in three languages and on two continents, performing in “Aida” and “Tosca” in Vienna, Budapest and Prague before returning to the United States and a Hollywood Bowl engagement in the late 1930s.

While she was performing in “Tonight or Never” in 1930, she met Douglas, whom she married in 1931. Together they went to Hollywood to star in “She,” the 1935 film about the fantastic goddess-queen of the H. Rider Haggard novel.

Of the character, Mrs. Douglas said then, “She ruled her kingdom by terror and she herself was fear-ridden. Personally I’ve never been afraid of anything — at least I can’t think of anything right now.”

It was in California that Mrs. Douglas took up political cudgels, testifying in mid-1940 before the Assembly subcommittee about the housing problems of migrant workers during the Depression.

Within a few months, she was selected as a Democratic national committeewoman from California, working for the party ticket in the November elections against the GOP presidential candidate Wendell Willkie. Asked at the time if she had a message for the state’s Democrats, she said “Yes, — do not underestimate our opponents. They are working every street, alley and boulevard.” As early as that 1940 campaign, charges of “reputed leftist support” began to be leveled at Mrs. Douglas, whose newcomer status and social and economic beliefs caused concern and disgruntlement among some of Southern California’s Democratic women.

Appointed as a civil defense volunteer by President Franklin D. Roosevelt shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Mrs. Douglas was chosen in 1944 as the Democratic nominee for Congress in Los Angeles’ 14th District amid “carpetbagging” charges. She did not live in the district, and although that was not then a condition of candidacy, one opponent called her “a political gypsy who is trying to push her tent into the 14th District.”

Mrs. Douglas won a close race, and by the time of her swearing-in in 1945, she and blond Connecticut Republican representative Clare Booth Luce were being called the “congressional glamour girls.”

Her appointment to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where she served for three terms, put her in the spotlight on post-war international issues, although it was on domestic matters that Mrs. Douglas encountered her most vehement criticism.

She was one of only 17 representatives who voted against contempt citations for the “Hollywood Ten,” writers and entertainers who, to her “personal regret,” refused to answer questions about their alleged Communist Party membership before the House Un-American Activities Committee.

In 1950, when Sen. Sheridan Downey retired, Mrs. Douglas decided to run for the Senate. It was a campaign in which her voting record — including opposition to a $150,000 appropriation for HUAC and to subversive activities control bill requiring registration of Communists — was used as evidence of her alleged leftist sympathies.

But Mrs. Douglas declared herself opposed to Communist aggression abroad, saying, “The Cold War launched by Communist imperialists has been a costly, nerve-racking and distasteful affair.”

Difficulties dogged her Senate campaign, in which her opponents dubbed her “the pink lady.” A group of USC students, in what was later described as a fraternity initiation prank, sprayed her with seltzer water and threw hay at her as she spoke on campus.

One reporter, present when Mrs. Douglas was speaking at an Orange County rally, said the candidate left the podium in tears after hecklers disrupted the meeting, booing her speech and distributing leaflets hinting as her alleged communistic leanings. The leaflets were printed on pink paper.

Nixon’s Southern California campaign manager, Bernard Brennan, said late in 1950 that Mrs. Douglas’ record “discloses the truth about her soft attitude toward communism.”

Although she was supported in her bid by many Eastern Democrats, Mrs. Douglas encountered divisiveness among Democrats in her own state. When she lost the 1950 election to Nixon, she declared later, “To me, politics is not a career, but a service. By being defeated, I did not give up my rights as an American citizen.”

The bitter scars left by the 1950 campaign did not fade. As many as 10 years later, she had eggs thrown at her in Boston during a speech on foreign policy.

But more than two decades later, there was a measure of satisfaction.

During Nixon’s dark Watergate days, bumper stickers proclaimed: “Don’t Blame Me — I Voted for Helen Gahagan Douglas.”

After the 1950 loss, she returned briefly to the stage, acting with the late Basil Rathbone, giving concerts and poetry readings and working on her memoirs.

Family spokesmen said there will be an autopsy, for the benefit of cancer research, before her body is cremated. Memorial service plans are incomplete.

Watch the video: Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Bill (May 2022).


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