Baldrige dies; “Parkland” to overshadow Blaine’s film

Kennedy social secretary Letitia Baldrige dies

The 86-year-old told America how to eat salad tastefully and say ‘I do’ gracefully.


Letitia Baldrige stands in 1998 in front of the Georgetown home where Jackie Kennedy, her friend and former employer, lived for about a year after the assassination of JFK. (Photo: H. Darr Beiser, USA TODAY)

  • Through books and columns, Baldrige meted out manners with humor
  • Her rules evolved with the times, and technology
  • She was not above self-reproach

10:18PM EDT October 31. 2012 – Letitia Baldrige, the mighty manners maven who taught America everything from how to eat a salad tastefully to how to walk down the aisle gracefully, died Monday in Bethesda, Md., reports The New York Times. She was 86.

Baldrige emerged as an empress of etiquette during the Kennedy White House, as the first lady’s social secretary (officially, her chief of staff). But her impact endured for decades thereafter, as an author, newspaper columnist and all-around expert on civility.

But Baldrige was no fusty, finger-wagging school marm. Standing 6-foot-1 and known as “Tish,” she meted out manners with a side of humor.

“We ought to be vigilantes for kindness and consideration,” she told USA TODAY in 2002. “If somebody is disrespecting somebody, we should step in — even at the risk of getting slugged over the head.”

She called cellphones “hellphones” and applauded the few who used them correctly. “I love people who lurk behind columns” in public spaces, whispering into their devices, Baldrige said. “I go up and say, ‘Good for you.’ ”

She had a rule book for rites, however. “There are people who don’t really care about traditions,” she told USA TODAY in 2001. “They want a cute wedding, and this desire of cuteness is paramount.”

Trendy theme weddings “are not eternal,” she said. “They fade in and out of popularity with amazing speed. You may think Barney (the purple dinosaur) is hysterically marvelous one year and the next year think, ‘What? I did that?’ ”

Nonetheless, the Miss Porter’s and Vassar graduate (Jackie Kennedy’s alma maters, as well) adjusted her rule book to the changing times. And perhaps no change has affected the rules of civility as much as technology. Regarding e-mail, she told USA TODAY a decade ago: “Most people don’t even bother to put their names. You get some initials and a phone number. It’s sort of like having a dinner with two courses and no dessert, no end of the meal.” She turned her nose up at the trend toward shortened sign-offs when it came to electronic missives: “Soon,” “All best” and “Best.”

But she wasn’t above scolding herself for mannerly mishaps (minor as they were). A lifelong re-gifter (gasp!), Baldrige told USA TODAY in 2001 that she once sent a silver picture frame to a business associate. “He said to me wryly one day, ‘That was a wonderful engraving job.’ ” Baldrige’s initials were etched into the back.


Paul Giamatti, Billy Bob Thorton & Jacki Weaver Head To JFK Assassination Film ‘Parkland’



It’s no secret that Tom Hanks as a producer is fond of looking at the past, whether through the prism of the space race, in “From The Earth To The Moon,” or through war — specifically World War II — as in companion pieces “Band Of Brothers” and “The Pacific.” Now, Hanks will set his sights on one of the most traumatic events in American history, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, with “Parkland,” which has cast its leads.

Paul Giamatti will star alongside Billy Bob Thornton and Jacki Weaver, whose stock continues to rise after her Oscar-nominated turn in the 2010 Australian crime film “Animal Kingdom.” Making his directorial debut, Peter Landesman (former journalist-turned-novelist) will adapt the film from Vincent Bugliosi’s “Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.” The film will focus on the chaotic events that occurred at ParklandHospital (where the President’s body was rushed to) on that fall day in 1963.

Barring a TV mini-series and Oliver Stone’s conspiracy epic “JFK,” Hollywood has shied away from dealing with the tragedy directly. “Parkland” will apparently follow in the footsteps of “Bobby” by being an ensemble affair, but no other names have been cast yet. With a release date scheduled for the 50th anniversary of the assassination next year, the film will begin shooting primarily in Austin, Texas, presumably with some filming taking place on the actual site of Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas.



About vincepalamara

Vincent Palamara was born in Pittsburgh and graduated from Duquesne University with a degree in Sociology. Although not even born when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, Vince brings fresh eyes to an old case. In fact, Vince would go on to study the largely overlooked actions - and inactions - of the United States Secret Service in unprecedented detail, as well as achieving a world's record in the process, having interviewed and corresponded with over 80 former agents (the House Select Committee on Assassinations had the old record of 46 with a 6 million dollar budget and subpoena power from Congress), not to mention many surviving family members, White House aides, and even quite a few Parkland and Bethesda medical witnesses for a corresponding project. The result was Survivor's Guilt: The Secret Service & The Failure To Protect President Kennedy. Vince is also the author of the books JFK: From Parkland To Bethesda, The Not-So-Secret Service, Who's Who in the Secret Service, and Honest Answers about the Murder of President John F. Kennedy: A New Look at the JFK Assassination. All told, Vince has been favorably mentioned in over 140 JFK and Secret Service related books to date (including two whole chapters in Murder in Dealey Plaza, The Secret Service: The Hidden History Of An Enigmatic Agency by Philip Melanson, and the Final Report of the Assassination Records Review Board, among many others), often at length, in the bibliographies, and in the Secret Service - and even medical evidence - areas of these works. Vince has appeared on the History Channel's THE MEN WHO KILLED KENNEDY (VHS and DVD), C-SPAN, Newsmax TV, A COUP IN CAMELOT (DVD/BLU RAY), KING KILL '63, THE MAN BEHIND THE SUIT (DVD), National Geographic's JFK: THE FINAL HOURS (including on DVD), PCN, BPTV, local cable access television, YouTube, radio, newspapers, print journals, at national conferences, and all over the internet. Also, Vince's original research materials, or copies of said materials, are stored in the National Archives (by request under Deed Of Gift by the ARRB), the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Harvard University, the Assassination Archives and Research Center, and the Dallas Public Library. Vince Palamara has become known (as he was dubbed by the History Channel in 2003) "the Secret Service expert." As former JFK Secret Service agent Joe Paolella proclaimed: "You seem to know a lot about the Secret Service, maybe even more than I do!" Agent Dan Emmett calls Vince a Secret Service expert in his new book.
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1 Response to Baldrige dies; “Parkland” to overshadow Blaine’s film

  1. Hollywood Mark says:

    Vince: Landesman is a very controversial journalist. His facts have been assaulted in almost every article he has written. He also has very strong intelligence connections. He has gone through Hollywood in 0-60 seconds and is now directing a film that is based on one of the most contentious pieces of American history. You readers should be aware of these issues regarding “parkland”.

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