Letitia Baldrige

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Letitia Baldrige
White House Chief of Staff to the First Lady of the United States
In office
1961–1963
Appointed by Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy
Preceded by None
Succeeded by Liz Carpenter
Personal details
Born (1926-02-09)February 9, 1926
Miami, Florida, U.S.
Died October 29, 2012(2012-10-29) (aged 86)
Bethesda, Maryland, U.S.
Spouse(s) Robert Hollensteiner
Children Clare, Malcolm
Occupation Public relations executive
Etiquette expert
Religion Roman Catholic

Letitia Baldrige (February 9, 1926 – October 29, 2012) was an American etiquette expert and public relations executive who was most famous for serving as Jacqueline Kennedy's Social Secretary.

Known as the "Doyenne of Decorum", she wrote a newspaper column, ran her own PR firm, and, along with updating Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette,[1] she published 20 books and appeared on Late Night with David Letterman and the cover of Time Magazine.

Life[edit]

Letitia Baldrige was born February 9, 1926 in Miami, Florida, and grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, the youngest child of Republican Congressman Howard Malcolm Baldrige and his wife, Regina (née Connell). Her brother was Howard Malcolm Baldrige, Jr., the initial Secretary of Commerce during the Ronald Reagan administration . She attended Miss Porter's School in Farmington, CT, where she met Jacqueline Bouvier, the future First Lady.[1] The two also attended Vassar College together, from which Baldrige graduated in 1946 with a bachelor's degree in psychology.

Early career[edit]

After first being denied a position and told to improve her secretarial skills,[1] she reapplied and was hired by the State Department as social secretary to David K.E. Bruce, US ambassador to France.[2] After three years she would be appointed secretary in Rome to the American ambassador to Italy, Clare Boothe Luce, followed by a position as director of public relations for the jeweller Tiffany & Co.[1]

Although then a registered Republican, in 1960 she was invited to work for the Kennedy campaign in Massachusetts once he secured the Democratic presidential nomination, going on to work officially for the First Lady after his victory.[1] Saying she "had had it" with the long days in Washington and serving the administration on overseas trips, she resigned early in 1963, to return briefly to aid the First Lady after her husband's assassination in November of that year.[1]

After the Kennedy White House[edit]

She served on the board of directors of the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. She also did significant charity work with Jane Goodall to help fundraise for the preservation of habitats for wild chimpanzees.

In 1964, the year after marrying her husband Robert Hollensteiner, whom she met while working for a Kennedy family firm, she founded her own PR business, Letitia Baldrige Enterprises, Chicago.[1] Earning the nickname the "Doyenne of Decorum" with a newspaper column and a string of successful books, in 1978 she appeared on the November 28th cover of Time Magazine.[1]

Death[edit]

Baldrige died of cardiac complications at a nursing facility in Bethesda, Maryland on October 29, 2012.[3] At an imposing 6 ft 1in in height, Baldrige said her focus was always on simple good manners, not a set of strict rules.[1] She had a self-deprecating reputation, fond of telling embarrassing anecdotes about her own socially awkward behavior, such as looking up in a 1947 garden party at Buckingham Palace to see the man she had just tripped was none other than Winston Churchill.[1] She had continued working into late life, publishing books in every decade from the 1950s, through the internet and cell phone revolution until her last in 2007, Taste: Acquiring What Money Can't Buy.

Career[edit]

1946 Bachelor's in Psychology, Vassar College
1946–1948 Graduate studies, Université de Genève, Switzerland
1948–1951 Personal Social Secretary to David K. E. Bruce, U.S. Ambassador, Paris
1951–1953 Intelligence Officer, American Embassy, Paris
1953–1956 Assistant to Clare Boothe Luce, U.S. Ambassador, Rome
1956–1961 Director, Public Relations, Tiffany & Co.
1961–1963 Social Secretary and Chief of Staff for Jacqueline Kennedy
1964–1969 President, Letitia Baldrige Enterprises, Chicago
1969–1971 Director, Consumer Affairs, Burlington Industries
1972–2005 President, Letitia Baldrige Enterprises, New York City
2006–2012 Baldrige & Lewris, Washington DC

The honor recognized her effort to appear on the Inman Literacy Foundation Lecture Series.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Roman Candle, 1956
  • Tiffany Table Settings, 1958
  • Of Diamonds and Diplomats, 1968
  • Home, 1972
  • Juggling: The Art of Balancing Marriage, Motherhood, and Career, 1976
  • The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette, 1978
  • Amy Vanderbilt’s Everyday Etiquette, 1979
  • Entertainers, 1981
  • Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide to Executive Manners, 1985
  • Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide to a Great Social Life, 1987
  • Letitia Baldrige’s Complete Guide to the New Manners for the '90s, 1989
  • Public Affairs, Private Relations, 1990 (a novel)
  • Letitia Baldrige’s New Complete Guide to Executive Manners, 1993
  • Letitia Baldrige’s More than Manners! Raising Today's Kids to Have Kind Manners and Good Hearts, 1997
  • In the Kennedy Style: Magical Evenings in the Kennedy White House (with Rene Verdon), 1998
  • Legendary Brides: From the Most Romantic Weddings Ever, Inspired Ideas for Today’s Brides, 2000
  • A Lady, First: My Life in the White House and the American Embassies of Paris and Rome, 2001
  • Letitia Baldrige’s New Manners for New Times: A Complete Guide to Etiquette, 2003
  • The Kennedy Mystique (with Jon Goodman, Hugh Sidey, Robert Dallek and Barbara Baker Burrows), 2006
  • Taste: Acquiring What Money Can't Buy, 2007

External links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Letitia Baldrige, Obituary, The Telegraph, October 31, 2012, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/9646580/Letitia-Baldrige.html
  2. ^ Letitia Baldrige Hollensteiner, recorded interview by Mrs. Wayne Fredericks, April 24, 1964, John F. Kennedy Library Oral History Program. [1]
  3. ^ Letitia Baldrige dies at 86, by Emily Langer, Washington Post, October 30, 2012 [2]