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July 3, 1929 |
In the 1980s Herring played a role in helping U.S. Representative Charlie Wilson persuade the U.S. government to train and arm the Mujahideen resistance fighters to fight in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, which began in 1979. These events inspired the book Charlie Wilson's War ; Herring is portrayed by actress Julia Roberts in the 2007 film adaptation.
Herring remains very active in social circles in Houston, and regularly contributes to and participates in benefits to help American troops and the Afghan people. Her second book, Diplomacy and Diamonds: My Wars from the Ballroom to the Battlefield, was scheduled for release on October 19, 2011.
Born in Houston as Joanne Johnson, Herring grew up in the city's affluent River Oaks neighborhood, and her childhood acquaintances included James A. Baker, III, who would later serve as Secretary of State. She enrolled at the University of Texas at Austin, but left after her sophomore year to marry real estate developer Robert King.
A fixture on the Houston social circuit, Herring became notorious for the lavish, decadent birthday party her husband threw for her in 1959. The "Roman orgy"-themed affair included period costumes and a mock slave auction, and was covered by Life magazine and various local news media. In the late 1950s, she began a 15-year-long hosting tenure for the self-titled daytime talk show "The Joanne King Show" on Houston's KHOU-TV station. By 1974, her show had moved to KPRC.
After her divorce from Robert King, by whom she had two sons, Beau and Robin, she met oilman Robert Herring and married him after only five dates. During that time Joanne served as honorary consul to both Pakistan and Morocco. After Robert Herring's death, she married Lloyd Davis, owner of Fisk Electric.
Herring's two sons both live in Houston.
Herring appears as herself in the comic 1999 documentary feature Five Wives, Three Secretaries and Me and the 1970s German television news series V.I.P.-Schaukel. In the former — the story of a Houston businessman who marries five times — Herring playfully introduces herself by saying, "Well, my name is Joanne Johnson King Herring Davis, and I've had almost as many husbands as he's had wives."
Marshall Plan Charities
In 2009, Herring founded Marshall Plan Charities, which seeks to "complement the ongoing U.S. military effort in Afghanistan by rapidly and effectively redeveloping normal, healthy civilian life village by village."  The organization unites the efforts of various NGO's concerned with the Afghan people in hopes of providing villages with clean water, food, health care, schools, and jobs. With those five things, villages will no longer have to rely on the Taliban to provide them.
- Received the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge Award in the 1960s
- Was knighted by the King of Belgium in the 1970s
- Was made roaming Ambassador of Pakistan in the 1980s, and received the Quaid-e-Azam award, the highest honor given by the nation of Pakistan.
- Was made a Dame in Order of St. Francis in 2011
- MARTIN, DOUGLAS (February 10, 2010). "Charlie Wilson, Texas Congressman Linked to Foreign Intrigue, Dies at 76". The New York Times Company.
- "How Joanne Herring won Charlie Wilson's War". The Telegraph. 2 December 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2011.