Obit of the Day (Historical): Mamie Eisenhower (1979)
Mamie Doud Eisenhower, wife of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, died on this date thirty-two years ago. Mrs. Eisenhower is not seen as among the powerful women who have held the position of First Lady over the last seventy years, but she was one of her husband’s most trusted confidants. In his own words:
She is a very shrewd observer. I frequently asked her impression of someone, and found her intuition good. Women who know the same individual as a man do give a different slant. I got it into my head that I’d better listen when she talked about someone brought in close to me.
Mrs. Eisenhower refused to invite Joseph McCarthy, the infamous Wisconsin senator, to the Vice President’s dinner which was traditionally for all U.S. Senators. And two years later, she personally controlled the administrative work delivered to the president after he suffered a heart attack in 1955.
The first First Lady to be publicly kissed by her husband after the Inauguration she was also known for her love of pink and her bangs, both of which are evident in her official portrait:
But one her most jaw-dropping moments occurred in December 1960 when she invited Jacqueline Kennedy, the First Lady-elect, to tea at the White House. The tea was scheduled on the day Mrs. Kennedy was released from the hospital after recovering from the Caesarean section delivery of her son John Kennedy, Jr. Mrs. Eisenhower, who was apparently unhappy with the young Democrat who was replacing her husband, then proceeded to led the sore and weak Mrs. Kennedy on a lengthy tour of the Executive Mansion. Mrs. Kennedy was told wheelchair would be provided but it was not. Interviewed about the incident later, Mrs. Eisenhower, when asked why no wheelchair was provided for the ailing Mrs. Kennedy, replied, “She never asked.” (Listen to Mrs. Kennedy’s telling of the story here.)
She died at the age of 82.