Margaret Truman portrait by Greta Kempton, circa 1947
|Born||Mary Margaret Truman|
February 17, 1924
Independence, Missouri, U.S.
|Died||January 29, 2008 (aged 83)|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Resting place||Truman Library, Independence, Missouri|
|Alma mater||George Washington University (B.A.)|
(m. 1956; died 2000)
|Children||4, including Clifton|
|Home town||Independence, Missouri,|
Mary Margaret Truman Daniel (February 17, 1924 – January 29, 2008), also known as Margaret Truman or Margaret Daniel, was an American classical soprano, actress, journalist, radio and television personality, writer, and New York socialite. The only child of President Harry S Truman and First Lady Bess Truman, she was "a witty, hard-working Midwestern girl with singing talent who was neither particularly pretty nor terribly plain."
After graduating from George Washington University in 1946, she embarked on a career as a coloratura soprano beginning with a concert appearance with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1947. She appeared in concerts with orchestras throughout the United States and in recitals throughout the U.S. through 1956. While she did occasionally perform opera arias in concert, she never appeared in staged operas and mainly focused her career on performing works from the concert soprano, lieder, and art song repertoires. She made recordings with R.C.A. Victor and made television appearances on programs like What’s My Line? and The Bell Telephone Hour.
In 1957 Truman abandoned her singing career to pursue a career as a journalist and radio personality when she became the co-host of the program Weekday with Mike Wallace. She also wrote articles as an independent journalist as well for a variety of publications in the 1960s and 1970s. She later became the successful author of a series of murder mysteries and a number of works on U.S. First Ladies and First Families, including biographies of her father, President Harry S. Truman and mother Bess Truman. She was married to journalist Clifton Daniel, managing editor of The New York Times. The couple were prominent New York socialites who often hosted events for the New York elite.
Mary Margaret was born in Independence, Missouri, on February 17, 1924, and was christened Mary Margaret Truman (for her aunt Mary Jane Truman and maternal grandmother Margaret Gates Wallace) but was called Margaret from early childhood. She attended school in Independence until her father's 1934 election to the United States Senate, after which her education was split between schools in Washington, D.C. and Independence.
In 1942, she matriculated at George Washington University, where she was a member of Pi Beta Phi and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1946. In June 1944, she christened the battleship USS Missouri at Brooklyn Navy Yard, and spoke again in 1986 at the ship's recommissioning.
After classical vocal training, Truman's singing career began with a debut radio recital in March 1947 followed shortly thereafter with her professional concert debut with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. She sang professionally for the next decade, appearing with major American orchestras and giving several national concert tours. Some of her credits include concert appearances with the Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the National Symphony Orchestra, the NBC Symphony Orchestra, the Pittsburg Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Saint Louis Symphony among others. While she never performed in staged operas, she did perform opera arias in concert. Her performances were mainly of both sacred and secular art songs, lieder, and works from the concert soprano repertoire. In 1951 she recorded an album of American Art Songs for RCA Victor. She also made recordings of German lieder for NBC. A 1951 Time Magazine cover featured Truman with a single musical note floating by her head. She performed on stage, radio, and television through 1956.
At the beginning of her career, critical reviews of Truman’s singing were positive or diplomatic in tone, with one later reviewer speculating that negative opinions were held back out of deference for her father as a current sitting United States President. This practice was broken in 1950 when Washington Post music critic Paul Hume wrote that Truman was "extremely attractive on the stage... [but] cannot sing very well. She is flat a good deal of the time. And still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish." The review angered President Truman who wrote to Hume, "Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you'll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!" His response was published by The Washington Post and drew international headlines, becoming a minor scandal for the Truman administration. Reviewers after that felt more free to be honest in their reviews of her performances, with mixed criticism for her singing thereafter.
Acting and journalism
Truman's professional acting debut occurred April 26, 1951. She co-starred with James Stewart in the "Jackpot" episode of Screen Directors Playhouse on NBC radio. On March 17, 1952, Truman was guest soloist on The Railroad Hour in a presentation of Sari.
Truman also performed on the NBC Radio program The Big Show. There she met writer Goodman Ace, who gave her advice and pointers; Ace became a lifelong friend, advising Truman even after The Big Show. She became part of the team of NBC Radio's Weekday show that premiered in 1955, shortly after its Monitor program made its debut. Paired with Mike Wallace, she presented news and interviews aimed at a female listening audience.
Truman's full-length biography of her father, published shortly before his death, was critically acclaimed. She also wrote a personal biography of her mother and histories of the White House and its inhabitants (including first ladies and pets). A series of murder mysteries, the Capital Crimes series, set in and around Washington, D.C., were published under her name; they were ghostwritten, first by William Harrington (according to Harrington).
After Harrington's apparent suicide, a self-written obituary was found in which he referred to Margaret Truman and others as his "clients". Harrington's literary agent (who was also Truman's agent) denied any collaboration with Truman, while somewhat obliquely acknowledging Harrington had "worked on" books credited to another author. Harrington has been "squarely" credited by at least one verifiable source with ghostwriting all the books published by the child of another United States president, Elliott Roosevelt and then, allegedly, those published by Donald Bain.
- Clifton Truman Daniel (born June 5, 1957), Director of Public Relations for Harry S Truman College.
- William Wallace Daniel (May 19, 1959 – September 4, 2000), a psychiatric social worker and researcher at Columbia University.
- Harrison Gates Daniel (born 1963)
- Thomas Washington Daniel (born 1966)
Later years and death
In later life, Truman lived in her Park Avenue home. She died on January 29, 2008, in Chicago (to which she was relocating to be nearer her son Clifton). She was said to have been suffering from "a simple infection" and had been breathing with the assistance of a respirator. Her ashes, and those of her husband, were interred in Independence, in her parents' burial plot on the grounds of the Truman Library.
|Souvenir, Margaret Truman's Own Story||1956||OCLC 629282|
|White House Pets||1969||OCLC 70279|
|Harry S. Truman||1973||ISBN 0-688-00005-3|
|Women of Courage||1976||ISBN 0-688-03038-6|
|Letters From Father: The Truman Family's Personal Correspondence||1981||ISBN 0-87795-313-9|
|Bess W. Truman||1986||ISBN 0-02-529470-9|
|Where The Buck Stops: The Personal and Private Writings of Harry S. Truman||1989||ISBN 0-446-51494-2|
|First Ladies||1995||ISBN 0-679-43439-9|
|The President's House: 1800 to the Present||2004||ISBN 0-345-47248-9|
|The Life of a White House Girl||2003|
- Times online, February 2, 2008
- "Margaret Truman, 83, Singer and Author". The New York Sun. January 30, 2008.
- "Margaret Truman Daniel bio". Truman Presidential Library. Retrieved June 2, 2011.
- "Notable Pi Phis". pibetaphi.org. Archived from the original on July 13, 2010.
- Time, February 26, 1951.
- "Truman's Letter to Paul Hume". Truman Library, Independence Mo. December 6, 1950. Retrieved June 2, 2011. Years later Margaret Truman recalled, "I thought it was funny. Sold tickets." (Staff writer, Truman's only child dies at 83, MSNBC, January 29, 2008, retrieved January 29, 2008.)
- "Margaret Truman To Star Tonight On Radio Drama". New Mexico, Las Cruces. Las Cruces Sun-News. April 26, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved November 14, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Kirby, Walter (March 16, 1952). "Better Radio Programs for the Week". The Decatur Daily Review. p. 44. Retrieved May 23, 2015 – via Newspapers.com.
- Thomas, Bob (November 2, 1951). "Tallulah Bankhead Praises Margaret Truman's Talents". Reading Eagle. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- House, Allan (November 11, 1955). "Margaret Truman Gets a Kick Out of Radio-TV". The Fayetteville Observer. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- "'Monitor' to debut on KDKA Sunday". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. June 10, 1955. Retrieved March 17, 2012.
- "Radio:Woman's Home Companion". Time. November 28, 1955. Retrieved January 14, 2011.
- "The Giselle MacKenzie Show". TV.com. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
- "William G. Harrington, 68; Wrote Mysteries and Thrillers". New York Times. November 16, 2000. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
- Breen, Jon. The Ghost of Miss Truman, Weekly Standard, November 18, 2002; retrieved January 29, 2008.
- Bain, Donald (March 14, 2014). "A Novel of My Own". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
- Gelder, Lawrence Van (January 29, 2008). "Margaret Truman Daniel Dies at 83". The New York Times. Retrieved October 14, 2016.
- "Truman celebrates heritage, history with grandson of US president". Kirksville Daily Express. September 15, 2011. Archived from the original on March 31, 2012. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
- Daniel, Clifton Truman (2009). "Adventures with Grandpa Truman". Retrieved April 20, 2013.
- "Hit by Cab, a Grandson of Harry Truman dies". The New York Times. September 6, 2000. Retrieved September 15, 2011.
- Goldstein, Steve (January 31, 2008). "First Daughter". Obit-mag. Archived from the original on January 1, 2010. Retrieved April 3, 2010.
- Meyer, Gene, "The ashes of Margaret Truman Daniel are put to rest in her roots", Kansas City Star, February 23, 2008. Retrieved March 13, 2008.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Margaret Truman.|
- Margaret Truman at Find a Grave
- Works by or about Margaret Truman in libraries (WorldCat catalog)
- Appearances on C-SPAN
|Awards and achievements|
Charles E. Wilson
| Cover of Time Magazine
February 26, 1951
Lt. Gen. Matthew B. Ridgway